Organizational psychology points out the fact that successful firms do not rely on competitive advantages, and market realities only for their success; rather, they consider human resources as their most vital organizational asset (Armstrong, 2006). In this regard, human resource management is one of the most important organizational processes, which is mainly involved with the management of people and people-related issues in the firm. According to Axson, (2010), there is a direct link between human resources, and the achievement of the strategic goals and objectives of the firm; this is because the implementation of the strategic visions of a firm relies solely on the value of its human capital. To that end, Barrows & Neely (2011) maintain that human resource management should make use of both individual and group psychology with the aim of ensuring that employees are committed towards the achievement of organizational goals. With the primary objective of attaining its strategic goals through attraction, retention, and training, and developing of employees, human resource management acts as the link between employees and the organization. In this regard, Cokins (2009) maintains that an organization needs to, first, have an understanding of its employees’ needs, and later, evaluate and understand these identified needs with the objective of making employees view their job as an integral part of their personal life, and not just like any other routine obligation. With this respect, Dressler (2004) argues that HRM is an extremely vital for the functioning of an organization, since it plays an instrumental in the creation of loyal employees, who are committed towards the organization’s goals and objectives. Different organizations deploy different HR strategies to attract, retain, and develop employees. In the wake of this view, this paper critically evaluates the recruitment, retention, training and learning and development strategies of Google Corporation; its strategies implemented for positive employee relations, performance management, and reward; its performance monitoring techniques, used with recommendations for Google to enhance the efficiency, and effectiveness of these operations.
HRM in Google Corporation
The HR department for any form organization often faces a unique challenge, which revolves around ensuring that the employees are committed and motivated towards the firm with absolute honesty and integrity (Epstein 2004). The HR practices, used by Google are often referred to “People Operations”, which serves to underpin the fact that HRM is not just an administrative function at the organization, but also seeks to establish a strong employer-employee relationship. According to Vise & Malseed (2008), the HR practices, used by Google are clear indication of the way their HR model gets impressive results, increasing the productivity of its employees. The HR team at Google is comprised of recruitment teams, learning, and development, line managers, internal consultants, and HR business partners (General Books LLC 2010). There are also a number of specialists, involved in benefits and compensation; however, most of the team members constitute the internal consultants, and HR business partners. Having provided an overview of HRM at Google, the following subsection critically evaluates the recruitment, retention, training and learning and development strategies of Google Corporation.
Recruitment, Retention, Training and Learning, and Development Strategies of Google Corporation
According to Hitt, Ireland & Hoskisson (2010), recruitment is the first step, regarding the overall HR processes at Google. A primary philosophy that guides the Google selection and recruitment process is “hiring the right people.” For instance, the median age of the workforce at Google is 27 years, which makes Google have the youngest workforce in the technology industry (Scott 2008). The retention and turnover data for Google affirms that the company has been successful in attracting, retaining, and motivating the most difficult group of employees: the cyber generation professionals and geeks of the Y-generation, who are known to change their affiliations every now and then (Scott 2008). Google makes use of a centralized recruiting team to fill its increasing range of job positions. The centralized recruiting team comprises of hiring specialists. In order to ensure that it attracts and retains the top talent in the industry, Google utilizes a “disruptive approach” for its recruitment process. Google has devised a “recruiting machine” that groups the jobs positions to facilitate the recruitment process, which provides the details of the entire company, and the requirements of the company, ranging from entry level employees to top leaders (Google Corporation 2011). Google has significantly relied on its HR branding, recruiting efforts and public relations to ensure that it attracts the top profession from the industry and learning institutions. For instance, Google has been branded as the best place to work. In addition, Google has deployed measures, aimed at changing the manner, in which employees work in order to attract and retain top employees in the industry.
Since Google aspires to acquire only the best employees, as stipulated in its HR philosophy, it has embarked on a rigorous selection process. For instance, the interviewers often rank the prospective candidates, using a scale range of 1 to 4, where 4 is the highest (Google Corporation 2011). In addition, the shortlisted candidates are further subjected to about four tough interviews. These interviews are often informal and conversational, and seek to assess the prospective candidates on their daily problem-solving ability rather than placing emphasis on their prior experience. In addition, prospective employees are also assessed, basing on their “Googleyness”, which refers to their individual ability to work in small teams, and under flat organizational structure. Since creativity and innovation is core to the success of Google, during the selection process, close attention is paid to the academic records of the candidates rather their work experience (Dressler 2004). In order to ensure that the selection and recruitment process does not miss any best talent, Google enthusiastically funds the entire recruiting process, which makes it unique. Having a ratio of one recruiter for 14 applicants, the HR at Google stands as one of the best funded recruitment and selection programs globally. Despite the recruitment and selection function of Google being innovative, there are a number of loopholes in the process. For instance, it is characterized by slow interview process, recruiting and screening of candidates; the hiring process is often annoying, time consuming, and long (Verweire & Berghe 2004). Nearly all candidates, applying for jobs at the company have affirmed that the screening, recruiting, and interview processes are slow. Hitt, Ireland & Hoskisson (2010) maintains that, the keystone behind slow speed is inclined towards the requirement that senior management must approve all new-hired professional. This approval happens in one day per week and, to some extent, the activity hinders hiring efforts, and wastes much time and resources. As much as the approvals are important at top, related time to fill the empty positions must be addressed as the company goes global.
With regard to employee retention, Google uses a compensation structure that makes the company the most sought, after yet it is one of the firms that underpay their employees. Nevertheless, the HR strategy adopted by Google is in fit with its vision and business model, wherein employees are not only attracted to the short monetary gains but also help to support an organization system that could assist them develop anything (Google Corporation 2011). Google acknowledges that employees often join and stay with a firm not only because of the pay check, but something more than that. Fundamentally, employees care the package that the company offers, as a whole. Verweire & Berghe (2004) asserts that it is a blend of the factors that helps employees to decide, whether a company is an appropriate workplace for them. In this regard, smart organizations develop a well constructed package of benefits and pay in order to ensure that they acquire the appropriate mix of employees, needed for their success. Tonchia & Quagini (2010) consider Google to be a leader, with respect to non-salary compensation that helps to retain its employees. The compensation structure (pay for performance) for Google, which is its retention strategy, places emphasis on rewarding employees for superb performance, and providing training to underperforming employees to overcome their weaknesses. In addition, training and learning is also an important aspect of its retention strategy. Google places emphasis on employee development using on-the-job learning, regular departmental meetings, lectures, and training. The employee motivation mechanisms, adopted by Google focus on creating an atmosphere that encourages employees to be creative and innovative, and empower them for rapid decision-making (Google Corporation 2011). Google takes the ideas, developed by employees seriously, and approves them for implementation; this strategy plays an integral role in the boosting employee productivity and morale. Another employee retention strategy, adopted by Google is the use of good salaries; for instance, fresh MBA receives about $ 80,000-120,000 annually, while experienced engineers receive $ 130,000 (Google Corporation 2011). According to Shields (2007), a combination of good salaries and perks with a good work culture has made Google an employment brand that is different from its rival firms in the industry.
With regard to the training and development strategies, adopted by Google, the company offers its employees several opportunities for learning and growing. Some of the professional development opportunities, available to its staff, include classes on management and leadership, delivering feedback, executive speaking, business writing, content development, and individual and team development skills (Google Corporation 2011). Other training and learning opportunities include foreign language classes. In addition, it is a requirement for all Google employees to undertake training and development sessions for at least 120 hours per year, which affirms the amount of money, time, and effort that Google allocates to invest in its employee in order to ensure that they are abreast of any technological and professional advancement in their respective fields (Scott 2008).
Strategies Implemented For Positive Employee Relations, Performance Management, and Reward
Positive employee relations, performance management, and reward are some of the core roles of the HRM to ensure that the HR department upbeats the challenge of employee motivation and commitment towards the success of the organization (Mckenna & Beech 2008). One of the strategies that Google uses to create positive employee relation is the use of a strong organizational culture. Google Inc. focuses on the informal corporate culture, whereby the corporate philosophies are based on casual principles, as opposed to the formal corporate philosophies (Scott 2008). The Google culture embodies innovation as being the key success factor for the company. The company’s commitment to innovation is fostered by a limited company feel, provided by a working environment that is characterized by comfort, and the freedom to express ones views and ideas. Each employee of the company is perceived as integral part of the company’s success (Mathis & Jackson 2011). The above-mentioned is favored by the informal corporate culture at Google, as evident in their philosophies such as: one can be serious without being in a suit; work must present a challenge to tackle, when tackling such challenges should be fun. The Google culture also focuses on motivation, which is implemented, using a policy, referred to the Innovation Time Off. This policy provides an opportunity for the Google engineers to embark on personal projects that could be of benefit to the company. In fact, some of Google new products and services are the result of this policy. In this regard, Google puts more emphasis on ability, rather than hiring. The company’s organizational culture plays a significant role in pulling the best technological talent, available in the market. In addition, it fosters motivation, which is the company’s strategy behind its success (Marczyk 2009).
The cultural environment of Google in itself promotes positive employee relations. Jackson, Schuler & Werner (2011) consider Google’s organizational culture to be somewhat organic, which is typified by teamwork, empowerment and flexibility. The organic structure fits Google because it is cross functional and non-hierarchical in the sense that there are no barriers between various functional units in the organization. On the ground of the organic structure, employees are often encouraged to be involved in their own activities. In addition, the office doors of the top management are always open, so that employees can feel free to talk directly to them. An outstanding feature of Google organizational culture is the decentralization of power and employee empowerment. Employees at Google also receive rewards for outstanding work in an environment that can be perceived as relaxed and facilitating through such social events as the roller hockey. Social events at Google provide an opportunity for employees to meet one another, and promote team work (Tonchia & Quagini 2010).
With regard to staff performance, it is apparent that the success of the company can be attributed to innovation among employees, which is a core performance measure for its staff (Shields 2007). In fact, Google expects its employees to be innovative, since the company allocates 20 percent of their time for them to embark on innovative projects. Scott (2008) argues that Google drives its success from the HR activities and policies, and cites that Google’s performance stems from the performance of its staff. In order to promote interaction and creativity among employees, the company has designed offices to offer lighting and shared rooms. The HR practices, adopted by Google, point out that the firm’s approach is playing an instrumental role in enhancing productivity among the employees. It is estimated that the average Google staff member generates at least $ 1 million in revenue annually (Google Corporation 2011). This has played an instrumental role in helping Google to leverage the productivity of its employees, which subsequently improves employee morale and performance. Google has adopted a different recruiting methodology from the traditional form of recruitment, wherein the focus is on recruiting good performers that have the capability of becoming top performers. According to Scott (2008), Google realizes that talent management is vital for its organizational performance.
Employee reward system is also an integral part of Google’s HR strategy, which has been vital in ensuring the high rates of employee attraction and retention. Verweire & Berghe (2004) define a reward as “something that seeks to express the norms and values, to which organizational members should conform, and response individuals can anticipate to get as a result of their outstanding performance.” With regard to this definition, Google deploys a number of performance-based and hierarchical rewards systems to acknowledge exceptional employees’ contributions to the firm. The employee reward system, deployed by Google is both performance-based and hierarchical, since employee performance is defined both qualitatively and quantitatively, informal and formal feedback is deployed expansively, bonuses for employees draw upon individual, corporate, and team performance; and there is a multifaceted structure for promoting employees, and distributing stock options among organizational members (Vise & Malseed 2008). Moreover, Google has a strong clan culture and a flat organizational structure, which makes the firm a hybrid of two employee reward systems. In addition, there are founders’ awards to employees, which seek rewards staff members, who have spearheaded projects that are exceptional. The founders’ awards are given on a quarterly basis and worth millions of dollars; they serve to thank employees for their efforts. Besides the Founders’ awards, Google gives out stock options and bonuses that are both individual and company performance based (Vise & Malseed 2008).
Performance Monitoring Techniques, Used With Recommendations for Google to Enhance the Efficiency and Effectiveness of These Operations
The performance monitoring system, used by Google to evaluate employees comprises of informal and formal feedback. The formal evaluation system deploys the 360 degree review approach to assess the performance of employees. Under this method, the performance monitoring does not rely on appraisals derived from a single source but appraisals obtained from several sources (Epstein 2004). At Google, the review process is comprised of the employer‘s manger and the individual reports. Furthermore, the employee is to select, also, at least three peers to perform a review on his/her performance. Nevertheless, these reviews should be a surprise because the informal feedback reviews are characterized by regular check-in, and are often comprehensive, when compared to bi-annual performance reviews (Google Corporation 2011).
It is apparent that Google relies on performance reviews to evaluate the performance of its employees. The mechanisms for formal performance reviews by Google include partially self-assessment and partially peer-assessment. Self-assessment draws upon the reflection of the employee towards his/her performance in the last year. In this case, an employee can opt to solicit feedback from his/her colleagues (Google Corporation 2011). For self-assessment, the employee is required to highlight his/her significant contributions that he/she has made since the previous review. In addition, an employee is also required to highlight his/her weaknesses and strengths, and the potential areas that need improvement. For the case of peer reviews, employees must select about 3-8 peers, who are supposed to write their peer reviews. In some cases, managers can opt to assign extra people to write peer reviews, who comment on one’s contributions and projects, areas that need improvement, and strengths and weaknesses. The purpose of the peer reviews is to allow one’s peers to offer direct feedback; allow the manager to undertake a performance rating, which determines one’s annual bonus multiplier; and can be used as a component of one’s promotion application packet (Google Corporation 2011).
It is apparent that there are a number of inefficiencies and gaps in HR operations at Google. First, the HR system of Google cannot monitor the on-job performance of newly recruited employees. With Google increasing its size, there is an impending challenge of the company continuing to maintain a fun-filled and open work culture (Google Corporation 2011).
Conclusion and Recommendations
It is apparent that Google draws its success from organizational flexibility, something that its competitors, such as Yahoo and Microsoft, are lacking. Google’s ability to successfully manage and motivate a youthful workforce is vital in guaranteeing its future success. Google has been successful in building a culture that can accommodate urgency, shifting roles, and flexibility. With its continued growth in strength and size, there is an impending challenge for Google to sustain its current pace of innovation and there is a risk for the firm to lose its dynamism and become increasingly bureaucratic. In this regard, Google has to make sure that it continually maintains its small teams in order to mitigate the risk of the emerging bureaucratic decision-making. In addition, the company should strive to balance business and fun-filled activities at the workplace, especially in the wake of the looming growth. Despite the fact that offering freedom to employees might be a good strategy to attract and retain employees, Google should ensure that it does not move away from its core business model and strategy. In order to eliminate the inefficiencies, associated with the selection and recruitment processes, Google needs to restructure the employment of recruiters from temporal to permanent one, to speed up the recruiting process. This will create enough time that will facilitate productivity leading collective goal achievement, which is an objective of the performance management strategies.