Google’s Human Resource Management Strategy

Google’s HRM: A Look at the Tech Giant’s Strategy, Policies and Practices.

Human capital and its management has become more important than ever in the 21st century. However, very few are ‘good as Google‘ (Parent company – Alphabet) at managing people. Google has proved that it relies upon innovation in every aspect of its business, even HRM. It has established an employee centred culture at whose core is employee empowerment.  The HR function is a strategic partner at Google and it has focused on benefiting the company’s core operations by hiring and retaining only the best. Apart from Google’s technological capabilities, innovative and efficient HR is the reason that it has acquired as much success and fame. It differs from most others in terms of its focus on employees and their happiness. When it comes to keeping employees happy, Google believes in nothing less than the best.  It favours ability over experience and hires only the smartest people. Several things are different about Google’s HR approach. Most outstanding thing about the tech giant is its mix of salaries and perks meant to keep its employees motivated and satisfied. Moreover, nothing is sufficient in today’s world. There is too much competition even in HR. You have to do outstanding things to be noticed and invite the best talent.

Google caters to a global audience and its diverse workforce reflects the diversity of its global customer audience.  In more than 40 countries around the world, it has opened more than 70 offices. Google is headquartered at Mountain View, California.  The search engine giant provides a variety of internet and cloud based services aimed at individual, professional and business use. Google has reached a leading position in the technology industry with the help of a highly talented and motivated workforce that it has managed with great care.

HR Management at Google
Googleplex. Image Source: Pixabay

However, with time it has grown famous for its employee friendly work environment and HR policies just as much as for its search engine and other internet products.  Being ranked continuously as the best employer requires intense focus on HR management. However, Googlers themselves tell the stories of how great it feels inside those offices. (You can ask directly on Quora and find out from Google engineers.) Google has not achieved these things by managing an airtight environment like several other companies. Instead, every individual employee is given enough space to use his talent and perform at his best. In this regard, you can say, it has managed to maintain higher transparency than others. The focus is also on the use of technology to drive employee performance.  The focal point of its HR strategy is maximum care and assistance so that employees can work with dedication.  The perks Google provides its employees are awesome that media often quotes with appreciation and awe.  Apart from job security, the high risk reward ratio at Google guarantees job satisfaction. A well designed training and performance management system ensures everyone receives appropriate guidance and support.  [Read: Number of Google Employees]

Innovative and employee friendly work culture:

The secret of Google’s success is its innovative work culture. This culture drives commitment. Some key facts about its culture are as follows:

  • Committed employees driven by a passion for innovation.
  • Efficient leadership that empowers and strives to create an environment of trust.
  • Recognition and incentive system that encourages performance and innovation.
  • Learning environment that ensures continuous learning and growth.
  • Top leadership committed to technological innovation
  • Inclusive policies that encourage diversity

Google’s success is because of its culture and work environment and its HR has played a major role in sustaining these things. Google’s organizational structure supports a system made to pursue innovation. Google’s HR nurtures its creative and innovative company culture  by formulating policies that hire and retain the best talent. If Google has stood at the top as the best employer for years continuously, the reason is that its focus on HR management is exceptional.

Recruitment and Staffing at Google:

Human resource policies begin from great hirings. Every year more than 2 million applicants apply to secure a job at Google. Thousands of applications are filed each year for every vacant position. The main focus of Google’s recruitment policy is to have the right person in the right position.  It does not officially reveal its number of recruiters but sources say that more than 400 internal and external recruiters were working for hiring new Googlers in 2009. These recruiters are well paid professionals, many of them external recruiters, to recruit new candidates.  In 2012, the number of new recruits Google hired was more than 8000. Recruiters focus on hiring staff that is highly talented and culturally compatible. Culture plays an important role when it comes to hiring new people. How culturally compatible you are with Google decides how well you will perform once you are inside. The role of culture and cultural compatibility has also been highlighted by research. The more culturally compatible are the employees, the higher will be the overall productivity of an organisation.  

However, the recruitment process is not so straightforward. Instead, the applicants have to be through a lengthy and complicated process. The budget for recruitment at Google is also high.  Productivity matters at Google and so there is a lot of investment behind hiring each new employee.  It tests several things before recruiting. To some, it may appear too complicated but then things are complicated inside technology companies and it is also why their turnover rates are higher compared to other industries. Surviving the pressure is not possible for everyone and in this sense Google is not wasting money by spending on recruitment. The way Google does it has also become a lesson for other players in the industry.

Recruitment is not only the HR function’s job, but the entire organisation is somehow involved.  Another key focus of Google’s recruitment strategy is diversity. It has partnered several organizations to make its selection process a success and to bring a highly diverse workforce together. Diversity is not just an HR concern, instead something visible in all aspects of Google’s business.  Google itself notes, There’s no one kind of Googler, so we’re always looking for people who can bring new perspectives and life experiences to our teams. If you’re looking for a place that values your curiosity, passion, and desire to learn, if you’re seeking colleagues who are big thinkers eager to take on fresh challenges as a team, then you’re a future Googler. Google has created an efficient recruitment system composed of skilled people. The recruitment team has members in roles like recruiting research analysts, candidate developers, process coordinators, candidate screeners and several others. Handling such a high number of applications as Google receives each year is not an easy task and requires a lot of planning and coordination.

Performance management at Google:

Google’s HR function has to handle a major responsibility and therefore its size is also larger than average. Throughout the various stages from hiring to performance management, Google cares for equity and believes in providing each Googler with equal chances of growth and development. The rewards for good performance are quite big and there is a downside to being an under-performer. Its payment strategy is based on the pay for performance scheme. 360 degree feedback is used for performance review and reviewers can be selected from all across the organization. It is not just your seniors but your subordinates too can be a part of your review team. So that people can perform at their best, Google’s leaders have taken care of a few important things

  • A person is assigned to a task he is interested in.
  • Everyone can learn continuously.
  • Challenges are there for everyone.
  • Everyone feels being recognized for his contribution.

Innovation is the norm at Google, followed in every aspect of business including performance management.

Training and development at Google:

If millions are chasing the dream of working at Google, the reason is that working there can be the most rewarding experience of life. Its HR policies target employee satisfaction and empowerment. Employee loyalty is very difficult to obtain in today’s era. It holds true especially in the case of tech companies. If Google is investing more than average, then it is to retain its precious talent.  The task would be difficult if Google was not investing in each employee sitting inside its offices. So, apart from hiring great talent, the focus is on managing it tactfully.

Google has created a work environment that fosters continuous learning. Employees get opportunities of continuous learning and growth. Google has special training programs related to presentation skills, content development, management and leadership. Free classes in foreign language and culture are also provided to Google employees. The group of engineers at Google is paid special attention for its important role. They are provided orientation and training plus mentoring by a special group called engEDU. These programs have been designed by the engineers for the engineers.

Learning and development receive special attention at Google whose learning and development team has continued to expand. This team works on leadership programs for developing future leaders for Google. 120 hours of training and development every year is mandatory for all Google employees. This is triple the industry average. All that focus on employees is what makes Google a splendid employer. However, the story does not end here. There are special reimbursement plans for the Google employees if they want to pursue further education. The Stanford MS program is designed to cater to the needs of engineers needing technical expertise in a specific area. The full cost of this program is born by Google. Its global education leave program allows upto 5 years of leave and reimbursement of up to $150,000 for employees who want to take their education further.

Benefits and perks:

The list of perks provided to the Googlers is so tall to inspire jealousy in others. These perks are a critical part of Google’s HR strategy and designed in a manner to inspire motivation, collaboration and innovation.

Here is a short list:

  • Flexible work hours
  • Casual dressing
  • Onsite medical care
  • Pets allowed
  • Health benefits applicable soon after joining
  • Free gourmet meals, drinks and snacks
  • Onsite gym
  • Expert help with financial management so Googlers can remain worry free.
  • Generous parental leaves
  • Retirement savings plans
  • Death benefits and the list continues………………

So, for someone working at Google, his job can be a highly rewarding experience. These benefits are designed to manage a very high level of motivation and dedication.  Its compensation packages are larger than the industry average and they also include stock plans.

Innovative and employee friendly HR policies:

Google has created an environment focused on inclusion. It makes sure that its employees’ suggestions are valued. New products are first released internally and employee suggestions are invited as a part of product development process. The staff provides its feedback on the usability and other features of a product before final release. The 20% project at Google allows the employees to devote 20% of their time to projects outside their general responsibility area. Google has managed a smart HR policy aimed to retain its talent pool. Fairness and equity are evident in all aspects of its HR management. However, there are challenges before it in terms of recruitment and staffing. It is continuously innovating in this area to better its recruitment strategy and increase the effectiveness of its retention plans.  Its organizational culture has received most critical acclaim. Designed to inspire innovation and loyalty, Google’s culture drives performance. It also inspires a personal feeling of belonging and dedication.

Conclusion:

The secret of Google’s success is its innovative work culture. Its culture drives innovation and performance which is exemplary and a source of inspiration for others. At the centre of its smart culture and structure is the strategic role of the HR. Google’s highly innovative HR machinery ensures that the culture it has created is sustained.  The success and reputation Google has earned in a short period, is not based on just its technological capabilities but on HR innovation too. It is a successful company that knows how to value its human capital. Its facilities and perks are matchless. However, if the turnover rate is high then HR in technology companies is really a challenging area. First of all, Gen Y’s loyalty is difficult to obtain and maintain. Google might need to innovate further to match its expectations fully. Apart from it, several more things are complicated inside the tech companies including the work itself. Still, if media hails it as the best employer, the reasons are more than evident. By investing in HR, Google has generated attractive results. It is satisfied with its employees and their contribution to making Alphabet a success. Sunder Pichai, the CEO of Google wrote in the annual founders letter, “Since becoming CEO in 2015, my optimism has only increased. A big part of that is because of the people I work with every day. I have the privilege of leading a committed group of employees who are pushing the boundaries of technology and helping us to be a better company”.

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Abhijeet Pratap

I am Abhijeet Pratap, editor of notesmatic. I am an MBA with marketing (major). Apart from writing on various topics in business management, marketing and English literature, I like to read and write about technology.