Hiring is a difficult and laborious process, generally because it’s very hard to determine which particular person will actually perform well on the job. (I spent years studying this in grad school, and have spent years implementing it in my office. Believe me – It’s very, very hard.) However, research suggests that there’s one trait that universally predicts job performance better than any other, and that’s general intelligence. Basically, the smarter you are, the better you’re likely to do on performance ratings. As such, companies that select staff based on how smart the applicants are will have employees with higher performance ratings, and if performance ratings are correlated with the marketplace performance of the company, hiring and retaining smart people should result in a stronger bottom line.
Consider for example how Google goes about getting new crew members: They hire brilliant people. Not only do they want to know where you went to school and if you graduated with a degree, they want to know what your GPA was while you were there. (Fortunately for my ego, I haven’t put in a resume.)
Once they’re on board, Google keeps their brilliant people entertained with personal projects. “Google screws around with a lot of far out, even cockamamie projects — well, because it can and it’s fun. Two good reasons that few can fault.” It’s not hard to imagine that having one out of every five days of work to devote to your own ideas would be very intellectually stimulating for someone with the brainpower to have brilliant ideas.
Google provides services on campus so that their brilliant people don’t get distracted by the everyday minutiae like getting their oil changed or their hair cut. And they require all employees to get at least 120 hours of training and development every year, to keep them abreast of what’s going on in their field. (There’s also the unlimited sick leave and 27 days of paid vacation every year. And don’t get me started on the free gourmet lunches and dinners.) You put all these factors together, and you get a gigantic company staffed entirely by brilliant people that repeatedly gets acknowledged as one of the best companies to work for in America. ‘Nuff said.