Google Inc. or simply Google is the provider of the search engine technology that has the status of the most used engine. Moreover, the word “Google” was the most frequently used word on the Internet in 2002 under the version of the American Dialect Society (Kuntze, 2010, p. 2). The name of the company comes from misspelled “Googol,” which defines as “1 followed by 100 zeros.” Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded the company in 1998 being students at the Stanford University (Kuntze, 2010, p. 2). Now the corporation’s headquarters are located in Mountain View, California. Starting as a search engine, now Google offers many additional options and products for Internet users.
The aim of the current paper is to research Google’s human resources management practices from different perspectives and within different levels of company organization.
The methodology of current research requires collecting relevant information from different sources in order to provide an appropriate analysis of Google’s human resources management. The paper will analyze both qualitative and quantitative data from afore-mentioned sources. Data will be collected from Internet sources, articles, books, and reviews, which will be considered to contain valid and relevant information about the company.
The most important focus of the company is on producing such services as Google Search, Advertising, Android Operating System, and Enterprise. The search engine of Google is known as “the most efficient and accurate means of searching the internet for content.” Google carries approximately 66% of all search queries on the Internet (Investment Group, 2012, p. 2). Moreover, the company offers different types of advertising to billions its users. The most popular advertising service that Google provides is Google AdWords, which is an advertising program based on an auction that gives its consumers an opportunity to create a text-based advertisement, which later would be targeted to Internet user’s geographic regions, searches, content, and others. Google also provides such service as Google Mobile, which helps to deliver advertisements to cell phones and tablets. As for operating systems, Google created a well-known Android operating system. Currently, Android is the most popular and frequently used OS for mobile devises. Google also introduced Chrome OS, which is an open source OS design on the base of Google Chrome web browser. In addition, the corporation established Google+ service, which is a social media platform; Google TV, which makes it possible to watch TV and browse on a single screen; and Google Books. For the business purposes, Google offers such products as Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar, and many others. There are also such useful products as Google Maps, Google Earth, YouTube, Google Translate, Google Photos, cloud storage Google Drive, and many others (Investment Group, 2012, p. 2-3). Since its foundation, Google has expanded from an 8-employee small company to the world-famous giant corporation with more than 45 thousand workers.
Google’s corporate strategy constantly changes in line with its development. At first, the only service offered by the company was Google Search, so the focus was quite narrow and dedicated to that only service. Later, after presenting the email system Gmail in 2004, the company expanded rapidly. This event indicated the beginning of the new strategy of the company, which aimed to provide launching of new products and business initiatives. The company continued to introduce new products, such as YouTube in 2006, Android in 2007, and Google Chrome in 2008, which indicated a shift in the direction of its corporate strategy. The issue is that at the beginning of its operation, the company focused on the quality of its services, not their quantity. The company’s homepage stated that “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Meanwhile, the company started to provide so many services and products that its concerns about management significantly lowered (Grant, 2013, p. 709-710). In 2011, co-founder of the company, Larry Page replaced Eric Schmidt, who was a veteran of the Silicon Valley and company’s CEO from 2001 (Grant, 2013, p. 710). After a year of Page work in the position of the CEO, a new era of Google’ strategy focus began.
Wired magazine commented on this event in the following way:
Page’s reign has been characterized by focus. Focus on product. Focus on the threat from a social networking movement embodied by Facebook. A focusing of Google itself, from a collection of disparate services to a single one with intermeshed components. And a more focused leadership structure where every employee can cite a single name when asked who is in charge.
Google’s short-term strategy can be defined as need to expand workforce for the following growth, continuously increase the company’s presence at the market, and keep producing new products and services. The organizational structure of the company is highly functional and includes several geographical locations. As Google intends to grow and perform successfully, the company implements the policy of hiring only highly professional employees, who receive adequate treatment. The company encourages its personnel to place a weekly review of their performance to the company website and post ideas on a mailing software application so that every employee can get familiar with those ideas (Hummer, 2006).
The short-time goal of expanding the workforce directly influences the company’s long-term strategy of delivering brand new advertising technology. In addition, the company has a long-term objective to develop a mechanism of tracking and provide a larger base of information to Internet users. As Google’s dominant business is its search engine, the company has been working on improving this product. As a result, now Google Search is the most competitive search engine in the field because of its differentiation. Therefore, the company’s key strategies are innovation and concentric diversification (Hummer, 2006). Google Inc. produces many new products every year, but the main function of that production is to put an advertisement on those products (Kelleher, 2013). Although the corporation’s stakeholders were at first concerned about such a strategy to develop in several different directions, the current revenue rate shows a positive result of such a strategy, as may be seen in Table 1.
Although the leadership of the company believes that the revenue will continuously grow in the future, the data shows evidence that the company does not perform consistently strongly. Therefore, the company should consider selling the stock shortly until its level will be closer to moving averages. Google has a significant potential to grow, so the long-term investors should not be concerned with selling stocks. Instead, they would be able to buy stocks for a much cheaper price after a little waiting.
Table 1 Consolidated Quarterly Revenues of Google Inc.
Note. Adapted from “Google Revenues: $14.4 Billion In Q4, Over $50 Billion In 2012” by Greg Sterling, 2013, Marketing Land.
Google’s Human Resources department is called People Operations, and most of the company’s employees use the shortened version POPS (POps). From 2006 to 2016, the head of the department was Laszlo Bock. Bock did a great work changing HR practices in the company, which had some disadvantages though. For instance, around the 2010s the HR department noticed that many women decided to leave the company. The majority of Google’s employees were men, so executives sought to hire more females. The main reason the corporation was so concerned about this problem was that they were losing many qualified workers. Moreover, the administration recognized the problem with employees’ well-being. When women started to leave the corporation, the leadership recognized it as a sign of happiness problem. The main mission of Google’s Human Resources department is to detect reasons why their workers might not be satisfied and fix the source of the problem. It turned out that the reason why women massively resigned from Google was unsatisfactory maternity support to women who recently gave birth. To solve the problem, Google implemented an “industry-standard maternity leave plan.” Compared to the old maternity support plan, which offered 12 paid weeks of maternity leave, now mothers have five months off work, full pay plus benefits, and they could split up that time on their own discretion. Google also pursues a policy of “ever-increasing luxuries for tech workers,” which is achieved by free gourmet food, Wi-Fi commuting shuttles, lavish maternity leave plans, etc. The new maternity leave policy brought its positive effects, such as an increased level of employee satisfaction and more cost-effectiveness (Manjoo, 2013). For its largesse, Google has become country’s best employer, which might be proved with ratings of Fortune magazine, which called Google the best company to work seven times (including 2015 and 2016) and eleven times placed it in the top-100 list, strongly outpacing Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook (Manjoo, 2013).
The company also has several social scientists who comprise People & Innovation Lab (shortened PitLab), which studies the organization. They carry out tens of experiments on employees to improve the way of successful leading such a big company. Although not all Google’s HR lessons fit in other companies, they are still renowned and taken as an example or straightly implemented by many companies (Manjoo, 2013). The head of “people analytics” group Prasad Setty describes POPS’ mission with these words: “What we try to do is bring the same level of rigor to people decisions that we do to engineering decisions. Our mission is to have all people decisions be informed by data.” The company uses predictive models under strategic workforce planning. Using the predictive algorithm based on data analytics within the company’s scientific approach makes it easier to predict which talent may result in success. Google believes that the most talented people with highly technical skills are those born between 1980 and 2000 (known as the Generation Y) and determines benefits for its employees based on these expectations. In addition, Google has several programs on healthcare: in offers on-site access to physicians and nurses’ service, gyms, fitness classes, and healthy meals alternatives. As many Google’s workers spend a lot of time at the workplace, POPS has decided to allow dogs in the office, yoga, running trails, rock climbing walls, haircuts, car washes, laundry machines, and ride from and to work, and many other (Lanz, 2015).
HR management in Google is related to different strategies to meet the needs of workforce. Even though there is a significant diversification within the business organization, the company has certain HRM approaches in different areas. Google’s human resource planning uses effective forecasting of employees’ surplus or shortage in order to correct the supply and demand for qualified workers. For this purpose, the company combines trend analysis and scenario analysis. The first one is based on the quantitative technique, which allows predicting possible demand for employees by taking into account current conditions and changes in business. The second one involves an analysis of different possible combinations of variables to determine the demand for each scenario. Generally, it is a mixture of quantitative and qualitative approach. To perform successfully, Google’s POPS also provides job analysis and organizational design. Organizational design allows the company to address HR needs in all aspects. Thanks to interconnections in the organizational structure, HR managers are able to identify interdependences within different organization’s divisions more easily and based on them make the job analysis and design. Such organizational design of the company is considered to make it more optimized in the area. The company combines two methods for better job analysis: worker-oriented and work-oriented. For positions connected to research and development as well as design and manufacturing, Google makes a bigger accent on the work-oriented method. As for the worker-oriented method, it is applied in positions that require “significant interpersonal skills.” Grand sizes of the corporation require more specific descriptions and specifications for jobs. Generally, Google demands smartness and striving for perfection for all vacancies (Lombardo, 2015b).
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Google’s human resource management uses only specific methods, strategies and techniques that underwent careful selection. Google’s HRM consists of three sections, such as recruitment practices and selection process, which provide a proper workforce, and retention programs for retaining employees. Human resources management also remains one of the most attractive attributes of the company. The recruitment practices of Google constitute a combination of several sources and methods. To form the most effective work team, the company uses a combination of external and internal recruitment sources. Thus, the company provides different transfers and promotions and invites the most talented trainees or interns as the basic internal recruitment source. As for the external recruitment source, Google places job advertisements to educational institutions and respondents. The company also manages job ads at the Careers section of Google’s website. The above-mentioned sources provide a large influx of professionals. Methods that the company uses in its recruitment practices, in turn, are also a combination of two parts: direct and indirect methods. Direct recruitment methods include direct work with possible interns and future employees in academic institutions. On the other hand, indirect recruitment methods are more important for the company as they bring more workers. Indirect methods work similar to job ads in Google’s website. Combination of direct and indirect methods with internal and external sources is a guarantee of successful HR recruitment (Lombardo, 2015d).
Selection of employees is based on personal criteria, such as creativity, acumen, drive for excellence, and compliance with the company’s policies. The presence of work experience is not considered as a significant criterion for selection. Instead, the corporation values candidates who are encouraged to maximize innovation and maintain Google’s broad strategy of differentiation. Generally, the company checks candidates’ background by means of on-the-job tests, preliminary screening, and interviews. HRM in Google exploits different procedures for different positions in the corporation. Employee retention practices, in turn, are successfully accomplished by compensation packages, which are widely competitive and quite above average. To be more specific, the company offers high salaries and wages, and many other benefits and incentives. To attract young creative and innovative employees, Google made its offices creative and fun. In order to support employees’ skills, the company provides coaching and mentoring (Lombardo, 2015d).
Google’s HRM provides the most effective training programs for its employees to maintain the most productive team. Google carries out an analysis of employee’s needs, which enables to create the most efficient workforce. The company also regularly evaluates training programs and their results to ensure that they remain proper and meet the HR’s needs. The process of training Google’s employees consists of four steps: needs analysis, program design, delivery, and evaluation.
Needs analysis includes three more narrow types of analysis. First, the company conducts an organizational analysis to identify POPS needs based of the current situation in the department or the company in general. For instance, when Google develops new products or invests in a new business, the company carries out an organizational analysis to check how employees meet the HR requirements. Then, the company does a work analysis to identify particular requirements to comply with work tasks. This analysis is used in case of creation of new jobs or some restructuring within the organization. Finally, the cost-benefit analysis detects the efficiency of training programs and activities. The goal of this type of analysis is to maximize benefits from training.
The next step in training practices is program design, which is a mixture of the result-oriented approach and the relational model. Thus, the latter is responsible for optimizing relations between employees, and the former is aimed to ensure that POPS works effectively. The training program delivery may take the form of a discussion, which allows to involve employees so that the process can involve healthy communication; on-the-job training, which helps employees to better understand work details; and a simulation to enhance creativity. Lastly, the process of evaluation of the training program takes place. It includes the summative purpose, which identifies efficiency of the program, and the descriptive purpose, which evaluates the outcomes of the training (Lombardo, 2015c).
Corporate career development programs pursue the goal to give employees substantial opportunities for both professional and personal growth. Google uses performance appraisals and interviews in one combination to provide information for HR managers to make sure that employees fit properly for their jobs, departments, and teams. Correspondingly, the company provides such approaches of HRM that meet person-job fit, person-organization fit, and person-group fit. Additionally, these approaches also meet the corresponding levels of resulting performance. As for career opportunities and requirements’ identification, Google’s HRM defines them with a combination of job analysis and coaching. Job analysis helps POPS to identify potential career options for each employee, and coaching facilitates understanding the dynamics of an employee and his or her potential career growth within the corporation. This approach not only helps to provide continuous opportunities for workers but also helps to identify requirements for career possibilities. Another method used to provide career development is the assessment potential employees. It can be achieved through interviews, coaching, and appraisals. Interviews and coaching help POPS to define potential effectiveness of workers within different positions, and appraisals give an objective evaluation of that potential. The last but not least thing the company implements is career development initiatives. The company offers both regular and irregular institutions for different kind of jobs (Lombardo, 2015a).
Google’s practices in relation to performance management start with planning. Performance planning involves different levels of the company’s HRM, such as communication, customer service, support for diversity, and the ability to solve problems. Accordingly, to succeed at those levels, Google uses different performance appraisal programs. Performance practices are connected to the company’s objectives for HRM as they ensure that each worker is capable of maintaining corporate business performance. For performance management practices, Google’s HRM uses a series of standards and measurements in different areas of the department. The company measures individual ethical conduct, contribution to innovation, and the level of outcome. HRM also uses the collaboration level as a team variable, creativity measure of HRM’s performance. Generally, Google demands high standards for all measures due to its drive for excellence. In order to improve the performance, POPS conducts performance interviews. During those interviews, employees can share their concerns about both individual and team performance. More specifically, individual performance interviews concern skills, knowledge, abilities, and other characteristics. Team performance interviews, in turn, relate to employees’ performance in relation to their teams. The company offers different types of interviews, such as formal and informal, structured and unstructured. Unstructured and informal interviews usually take place at “fun” places, such as coffee and snack bars in Google’s offices. Although Google’s HR managers take company’s performance management practices quite seriously, the company still faces some problems. For instance, HRM is usually concerned about performance in the areas of employee behavior and work quality. Employee behavior problems lie in negativism, delays, and power struggles, and work quality suffers errors and ineffective work techniques (Lombardo, 2015c).
Google’s compensation strategy is oriented on highly qualified employees. It is also highly competitive within similar corporations. Google offers high salaries along with nonconventional benefits and comprehensive incentives. In addition, the company offers proper moral incentives. Moreover, corporate policy provides many benefits, such as medical insurance, free meals, pensions for retainers, and free access to exercise equipment. As Google attracts tens of brilliant employees, one can assume that the company succeeded in its compensation strategy and provides effective benefits (Lombardo, 2015a).
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Google demands a high level of performance from its employees and offers them respectful support since “Things move quickly around here. At Internet speed.” Therefore, Google requires its HRM to be flexible in its work and hiring practices. As it was already mentioned, a significant part of Google’s workforce was recruited via the company’s website. Indeed, Google describes its demands and benefits for potential employees shortly but persuasively. Google states that it seeks for people who are “great at lots of things, love big challenges and welcome big changes.” The company makes it clear that there is a competition between potential employees and it chooses only the best of the best. To accomplish that, the company first offers a conversation with a potential employee and an interview on the phone or in the office. Besides, Google implemented some options that differ from regular hiring practices.
Google proved that it provides impressive hiring and development practices for its HRs, but the company’s internal social environment and culture are very important as well. To improve its effectiveness, the company should implement proper socialization strategies. Google should also care for new people in social and work aspects so that they could get accustomed to their positions quickly and easily.
Employee relations are leaded by three main positions: the founder and CEO Larry Page, the executive chairperson Eric Schmidt, and the Senior VP and Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora. Mr. Page as the CEO is responsible for day-to-day operations, technological strategy, and product development. Schmidt, in turn, is in charge of government outreach, partnership building, relationships, and advising the leadership on strategic and businesses matters. At last, Nikesh Arora provides Google’s business strategy (Investment Group, 2012).
As for the company’s discipline, or as Google calls it, culture, the company offers a high-energy workspace. The company has organized its office in a way that allows its employees to work and have fun at the same time. Using such approach in corporate culture, Google creates an “informal value-added environment.” Employees can freely play foosball, table tennis, beach volleyball, and many other games on the campus. Google disseminates a credo that the Google is not for money, but for a lifestyle. The company identifies itself as the one that moves towards changing the world. Google expects to accomplish this objective through a multinational teamwork and a creative involvement. The majority of workers feel proud to work in such a corporation; it is a pleasure for them to be so-called Googlers. Sergey Brin once said that innovative workers are “the bedrock of the culture.”
Google’s internal communication is generally organized in three general approaches: verbal, written, and audiovisual. Verbal connection is usually used in small groups and in interpersonal communication. Even though it may be more expensive for the company than non-verbal connection, it provides more relevant reactions and a high level of understanding. The written approach emerges in a form of continuous reference to the used material. This approach also has a positive outcome, specifically a written record of discussion. As for the audiovisual approach, it is a combination of two above-mentioned approaches, and its strong side is that it can be used right after it was developed and often. Generally, employees feel free to interconnect with anyone whenever they want as the corporate strategy pursues informal atmosphere at the workspace. Therefore, every employee can decide which kind of communication is best for him or her, which makes the employee feel more comfortable and thus be more productive for the firm.
The high speed of company’s development and HR growth brings new challenges for Google’s HR department. It was already mentioned that the company faces some lowering in the quality of its performance by focusing on the number of innovations. It might pose a risk for the company of becoming more bureaucratic and losing its dynamism. There is also information that Google pays poor attention to the workforce guidance and monitoring. This means that workers are able to organize their work time on their own. For those employees who are confident with their smartness, creativity, and want to work, such free atmosphere may be a favorable circumstance. However, there are workers who are not so good in organizing themselves. As a result, individuals lacking self-discipline might feel helpless, which can even result in project delays. Another challenge the company faces is the difficulty in getting promotion. For most employees, promotion looks temping and desirable as it means salary growth. However, the issue is that promotions are often not so easy to achieve. As a result, many workers will not only stop seeking for promotion but also can lose motivation to develop. The company is generally said to break the promises it makes and to “make a lot of empty promises.” Consequently, such reputation may result in lowering recruitment rates.
If the company aims to keep the environment with minimum monitoring and supervision, it should consider giving extra focus to the process of staffing and recruitment. At that stage, the company should consider hiring only strong and confident people. The company should also consider changing its position in relation to employees’ previous experiences. It is good to have a worker who comes with a “clear” history, so the company can educate him or her from the beginning and thus have a better worker. However, employee’s experiences may not always be a hindrance. People who already know what to do in the area might use their gained fortitude, self-discipline, and the developed skills in organizing their work time and workspace in Google. To avoid possible unwanted shadow of experience from former jobs on employee’s performance, the company should seek for mentally strong and independent candidates. That would simultaneously satisfy the corporation’s demand for qualified workforces and ensure that employees are capable of continuous and productive collaboration. The company should also revise its training system and make it more efficient to ensure that new workers are able to work under Google’s extraordinary HR management. In case the company does not consider such a scenario as possible, it can provide several additional middle-chain vacancies so that employees feel more control over them.
Additionally, the company should divide the performance evaluation system between new and old workers. The change must reflect older workers as soon as they are familiar with the company’s strategy and can perform successfully without frequent evaluation of their work. By contrast, new workers should get more control so as not to create an additional burden for the company.