HR at Google: More Than Just Food and Dogs

This very interesting article in Workforce Management magazine notes Google is the only company that ranks in the top five on both of Fortune’s lists for America’s Most Admired Companies and the Best Companies to Work for.

“Well, sure!” many would say. “Look at all the free food they give you and you can bring your dog to work. The reality is actually something quite different. HR at Google is closely tied to management with the primary goal to achieve business objectives through just that “fun” work environment.

Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president of people operations, says: “If you stripped out all the dogs and cafes, the culture would remain. People are curious. If you respect their intelligence and explain what you are trying to do, they will be far more engaged and aligned with your business objectives than they would at any company where you simply tell them what to do.

I wholeheartedly agree. It is the culture you inspire that has the most lasting effect and impact on the bottom line. Usually, what your company is trying to do is clearly expressed in the stated vision, mission and values. Most employees couldn’t quote those values without reading it off the wall plaque however. Reinforcing those values and the company mission is a simple thing to do when you align them with strategic recognition.

When every employee behavior you recognize and reward is linked to a value you want demonstrated or to a major goal achieved that advances the company mission, then you begin to change the company culture to one of appreciation in which employees choose to give greater discretionary effort – the very definition of employee engagement.

Bock’s HR group also relies on analytics to measure everything they do. This is a critical component of any strategic initiative that is often lacking in HR programs. To derive the greatest benefit from strategic recognition, you must set clear objectives and measure outcomes.

What is your company culture? Would your neighbor in the next cube or office agree with your assessment?

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