The Google Problem Working at Google is seen by many to be the ultimate dream. What these people do not know, however, is that the company has some issues that require urgent resolving if it is to continue with its trailblazing trend of being innovative and at the forefront of bringing to the consumer useful, cutting-edge technology. The root of Google’s problem, then, is that it cares, perhaps too much, about its employees. Google was founded by geeky engineers who then proceeded to make it a company that is comprised almost entirely of more geeky engineers. So many are these engineers, in fact, that if one is not part of this clique, they risk becoming a second-class employee. The fact that there are many engineers at Google is not, however, the chief issue. The problem, unfortunately, is that in becoming a distributed corporate tech campus, Google has invested in ensuring a lot of awe-inspiring perks for its employees exist so that they cannot even consider jumping ship to any other competitor (Adams, 2011).
On the one hand, most of the engineers who build the Google products that we use are very intelligent and boast superior IQs. Their products fail so often, however, because they are not in touch with the real world in as meaningful a way as they ought to be. This isolation and the out-of-touch existence of Google employees is exacerbated by the fact that they have everything provided for them on their corporate campuses – this includes free food all the way to medical services. The only thing a Google employee needs to leave the corporate campus for is sleep, which means that around ninety percent of an employee’s working life is spent dealing with other Google people (Adams, 2011). The Current Culture – and Areas of Weakness In line with having engineers that can be correctly said to be out of touch with the real world, the company’s corporate culture is one that can be a little disconcerting for employees. One of the major drawbacks of hiring exceptionally talented people for every role in the company has been that the feeling of being under-utilized.
The fact that the company can, and often does, hire the very best people means that many employees are overqualified for the roles they end up performing. The company’s size also makes it that a single individual that is not exceptionally talented enough to create something new will not have any significant impact on the business. Instead, these people are left ensuring that everything runs smoothly and hardly ever feel like they have challenging or utterly engaging roles to play in the company.
Indeed, the culture at Google more often than not rewards those engineers who are able to solve tricky technical problems while ignoring those who thrive at dealing with the harder role of product development – smoothing out edges and adding functionality that is based on what product consumers suggest, plus maintaining and keeping a product debugged (Edwards, 2016). It is the daily interaction with Google coworkers as one eats Google food, wears the company’s gear, uses its phones, and talks in Google acronyms, however, that comprises a big part of the culture while working at this company. The problem comes in when one slowly loses touch with how life is independent of Google, and this can prove problematic in designing solutions and products for consumers that live in the real world. Part of the challenge of being a Google employee is that there can lack sufficient room for growth or promotions, primarily due to the number of outstanding staff already present in the company. It can be especially challenging to advance anywhere if one does not have improvements based on hard metrics to back them up (Edwards, 2016). Google’s admission in the past that it has a diversity problem demonstrates yet another weakness in the manner in which the business operates. With 70 percent of its employees being men, and a dismal 17 percent of employees with technology position being female, the company had justifiable reasons for being reluctant about disclosing information related to the diversity of its workforce – public backlash and reputation woes would undoubtedly accompany such a revelation (McGregor, 2014).
But while Google made a significant leap of faith by choosing to highlight the diversity issue publicly, it is still struggling with cultural change as evidenced by the fact that it has been under investigation for paying women lesser than their male counterparts. This development, along with employee memos indicating that women’s biological tendencies such as empathy and agreeability are just what make them inferior or less equipped than men for certain jobs, make it seem that Google is not yet out of the woods. When employees feel that they can express such opinions as those that imply that having diversity at the workplace only serves cosmetic or specific political ideas, it shows that the culture itself is part of the problem as it facilitates the development and fermentation of such feelings (McGirt, 2017). Solutions While several areas have been identified as potential, and some even actual, problem spots for Google, there remain a number of methods that can be used to conclusively deal with them so as to refocus the company on being the great and innovative business that it is.
As Google continues to look for better avenues, other than pure advertising, for earning revenue, it should perhaps start off by reducing some of the expenses that it expends on its employees. By cutting back on some of the perks such as free food every day, all day, Google will encourage them to interact more and more with the people for whom they develop their products. When the company ensures that its engineers are once again in touch with everyday people and the challenges that they encounter, it will have succeeded in a substantial way in boosting the number of successful, applicable in everyday life projects that come out of its labs. As Google ventures into coming up with solutions for daily and practical challenges, it will find that it engages more and more of its staff in doing projects that are suited to their creative geniuses, especially as the company is known for hiring the very best. More diversification at Google will also mean that there will likely be more channels available for promotions and growth, and this will result in employee satisfaction with the employer. Indeed, the company ought to invest in ensuring that it recognizes the role of even those who work hard to ensure that products pushed out to clients are smooth and in line with consumer wants and needs, and not just those engineers who solve tricky technical problems.
Finally, Google made a brave move by announcing its diversity figures. Now, it needs to work towards incorporating more women and other minority groups, all exceptionally qualified, in its teams – and paying them equally or fairly as per the tasks they are meant to perform. Only by doing so, and hopefully being successful at it, shall the company manage to disabuse of their notions those who believe that tech is an exclusionary field. Executive Summary The Google Taskforce found in its research that Google engages in certain practices that have potential drawbacks in as far as resource utilization and engineer creativity are concerned. By providing for everything its engineers need – with the exception of overnight sleeping quarters, Google denies them the chance to interact with the people for whom they are expected to draw cutting-edge innovations and solutions.
The company needs to redirect some of the resources it expends in facilitating free meals, snacks, and all manner of perks to areas that will contribute to further revenue generation. This is not to say that every Google perk should be scrapped off. The objective should be that engineers are able to interact with people who are not engineers or Google staff so that they may be able to get better perspectives on what it is that Google’s consumers want. Google was also found to be underutilizing a segment of its employees. The brilliant minds that the company hires should be able to come up with solutions for challenging problems as opposed to merely taking down flagged content on YouTube or other such sites. Google also needs to work on its reward and recognition scheme so that it is more all-rounded as opposed to being one that only favors a particular section or skillset. Seriously tackling the issue of diversity will also play a key role in ensuring that the company attracts and retains exceptional talent thanks to the creation of the perception of fairness and non-discrimination.
The desired outcome here is a corporate culture that feels, and is, more inclusive, and one that is geared more towards solving consumer problems than catering to employees alone.