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Google Case Notes

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This case highlights the human resource management (HR) practices at Google that are integral
to the company’s long-term success. The case illustrates specific components of Google’s HR
strategy and also provides insights on some of the challenges Google faces as it continues to
grow. Specifically the case explores the company’s benefits, pay, hiring, employee development,
and employee retention practices. The challenges shared include those related to the need to
shift hiring practices as a company grows, maintaining a strong company culture, and
internationalization.

Questions:

B-12. What do you think of the idea of Google correlating personal traits from the employees’
answers on the survey to their performance, and then using that as the basis for screening job
candidates? In other words, is it or is it not a good idea? Please explain your answer.

Hiring practices are clearly integral to Google’s success. Google depends on the talent of its’
employees to maintain the company’s competitiveness and they use their selection process to
identify the talent that holds the traits that have helped them succeed. As the company grows,
their intensive interview process has become difficult to maintain. Thus, an assessment that can
screen candidates based on these important traits will help effectively evaluate candidates.

However, there are legal implications in using tests in hiring, and thus, the company needs to
make sure that any test used is reliable and valid. The process of correlating the personal traits
that the employees reported to their performance demonstrates the criterion validity of the traits.
Thus, this process is a good idea to help develop a reliable and valid test.

B-13. The benefits that Google pays obviously represent an enormous expense. Based on what
you know about Google and on what you read in this text, how would you defend all these
benefits if you’re making a presentation to the security analysts who were analyzing Google’s
performance?

Employee benefits are an important component of the total rewards an organization offers its
employees. Google makes a significant investment in benefits and the benefits provided help to
create the unique and creative company culture. This company culture is an important
component of the company’s overall strategy. Thus, the investment in employee benefits is
intended to contribute to the company strategy. Google can use metrics to demonstrate this value
to security analysts. Strategy-based metrics, for example, focus on measuring how activities help
achieve organizational goals. In this case, Google might be able to demonstrate how the
employee benefits contribute to attracting and retaining top talent.
B-14. If you wanted to hire the brightest people around, how would you go about recruiting and
selecting them?

Google has built a reputation as a great place for the brightest people around to work. This
makes their recruiting process a little easier, but brings them selection challenges as they get
about one million job applicants a year. Their intensive selection practices have shifted over the
years to accommodate screening those candidates.

However, other companies may not have the reputation to attract the brightest and must make
strategic recruitment efforts to hire the brightest people. A larger pool of candidates will likely
yield the brightest employees. One thing that Google has done effectively is that they have
established a brand image as an attractive workplace. Their benefits and work culture are known
for inspiring creativity, and this attracts the bright candidates they are seeking.

A company should then use targeted outside sources of candidates to attract the brightest people.
For example, a company can recruit on top college campuses, or ask current employees for
referrals.

From a selection perspective, a company can use an assessment tool such as a cognitive ability
test to select the brightest applicants. A structured interview process that asks job-related
questions can also help identify the brightest candidates in the recruitment pool.

B-15. To support its growth and expansion strategy, Google wants (among other traits) people
who are super-bright and who work hard, often round-the-clock, and who are flexible and
maintain a decent work–life balance. List five specific HR policies or practices that you think
Google has implemented or should implement to support its strategy, and explain your answer.

There are many HR policies or practices that can support its strategy to grow and expand with
the support of super-bright, hardworking employees. Some examples include:

 Workplace policies that support a flexible and supportive work environment, such as
flexible work hours and convenience services such as on-site cafeterias.
 Employee benefits such as paid time-off, comprehensive healthcare insurance, and
generous retirement benefits that help employees relieve stress.
 Recruitment and selection practices that attract and select hard-working and smart
employees.
 Performance management systems that provide employees with valuable and
developmental feedback.
 Base and incentive pay plans that provide appropriate rewards to retain workers.

B-16. What sorts of factors do you think Google will have to take into consideration as it tries
transferring its culture and reward systems and way of doing business to its operations abroad?

The first challenge Google will face is transferring its company culture to an international
context. The creative and flexible work environment may not be as accepted in different national
cultures. Further, incentives and rewards may not be effective in different cultural contexts. For
example, some cultures are less individualistic than the U.S., and thus, our individual incentive
awards may not be as effective. Wide variances in the cost-of-living around the world also create
challenges in establishing appropriate pay levels.

B-17. Given the sorts of values and culture Google cherishes, briefly describe four specific
activities you suggest they pursue during new-employee orientation.

Just hiring the right employees will not ensure Google is successful. The onboarding or new-
employee orientation process is important to socialize the employee into the organization’s
culture and help them understand what workplace behaviors will help them be successful. Given
Google’s values and culture, the following are examples of specific activities that could be
included in the new-employee orientation:

 A review of Google’s policies, including the Employee Handbook, so that the employee
is aware of the benefits available, such as flexible work schedules.
 A tour of the facility so that the new employee knows of all the facilities and benefits
available.
 An introduction to the employee’s new team and possibly some team-building activities
to help them begin working with the team.
 A review of incentive pay plans or other reward programs so that the employee
understands what is rewarded.