“When it comes to keeping employees happy, Apple Inc. appears to be taking some inspiration from Google Inc.,” Jessica E. Lessin reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Earlier this year, Apple told some employees about a new initiative called ‘Blue Sky’ that allows a small group of staffers to spend a few weeks on a pet engineering project, according to three people told about the program,” Lessin reports. “It is a more limited version of similar initiatives for hatching new ideas that have long existed in Silicon Valley. The most well-known of those is Google’s ‘20% time,’ which allows employees to spend up to a fifth of their time on projects outside their normal responsibilities.”

Lessin reports, “The idea was previously anathema at Apple. The Cupertino, Calif., company is known for organizing teams around a few focused projects that come from the top. Employees have often griped about the lack of leeway… But under Chief Executive Tim Cook, who took over from co-founder Steve Jobs last year, Apple is becoming more employee-friendly. Mr. Cook has introduced small corporate benefits that Mr. Jobs resisted or never cared much about, such as new employee discounts on Apple products and a charitable matching program.”

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