What Can we Learn From the Google Employment Culture?
27 September 2013 by Lawrence Adams
The 15th Anniversary of Google, the Internet search engine, is probably as good a time as any to delve into employment culture and the workplace. Afterall, Google is world renowned for offering innovative workplaces and exciting perks. Do its ideas really motivate its workforce? More importantly, what can you, as an employer, learn from this? We take a closer look at the practices and the
The idea of employee incentives is nothing new. The majority of work places offer advantages to their customers, many by way of season tickets, fitness passes or even through traditional annual bonuses. Google has a pretty unique way of incentivizing its employees.
Its thought that Google offers a wide variety of job perks which range from breakfast, lunch and dinner free of charge in one of the various on-site restaurants to free gym facilities. In fact, Google’s philosophy is to give its employees as much reason to stick around as possible. Perhaps the most famous benefit is the 20 percent time program. Google allows employees to use up to 20 percent of their working week to pursue projects that interest them yet are unrelated to their normal workload.
Even the interior design of the Google buildings have a purpose. Employees work often work in groups of three to four. The company wanted these employees to work together in the same area. Architect Clive Wilkinson came up with the glass pod solution whereby each employee has their own work space in the same area yet separated by glass walls.
It isn’t just Google employees that get such tantalizing perks. UK companies have started to follow suit with certain companies offering innovative perks for employees. Take for example Propellerhead, a Brighton-based Digital Agency who have a lottery style machine which, when the firm hits its targets, a lucky staff member the opportunity to make one of their dreams come true. Netflix is another example. Employees who work for the digital media company enjoy having no official office hours.
So what can we learn from such innovative perks structures? The first thing to point out is that many of the companies that offer innovative perk packages are rather larger than normal small business. Often the types of companies that offer these all-inclusive ‘lifestyle’ perks are startup tech companies and the Google philosophy will almost certainly be inappropriate for any other business.
With that said, several lessons can be drawn from their practices. The first is that often, small, inexpensive but innovative benefits can have a significant effect on employee morale. Take for example, Google’s policy of letting employees take advantage of company-paid social events such as trips to the cinema. The costs of doing so are minimal yet employees get a chance to bond with their team, enjoy themselves and relax away from the work place.
Often when an employer offers something different and unique for employees, it boosts involvement in the workplace. Employees anticipate that moment when they get something in return and morale is increased by the anticipation.
One of the best pieces of advice available comes from an ex-Google employee who says: “It needs to be tailored to your staff and to your company because you can’t do everything that everyone else does. But I think just making that little bit of extra effort to acknowledge what your staff want and get feedback is important.”
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