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What all employers can learn from Google



Google has been rated the world’s most attractive employer in two categories, business and engineering, by Universum. The rankings were based on responses from 160,000 career seekers. So what can employers learn from Google to improve their own attractiveness?

The results were obtained by surveying students at top universities in the largest economies of the world.

Google excels at attracting and retaining employees, and wisely so, at a time when top-performing employees are becoming a scarce commodity. Sure, Google may be well-known for its relaxed atmosphere and employee perks like onsite massages and fitness centres, but there must be more to this company that makes it so attractive. I think this is something employers should be interested in, and excited about learning.

Katherine Scarrow at the Globe and Mail suggests that one reason may be that the company recognizes the need to foster the personal and professional development of its employees, and it is more likely to offer professional training through customized learning programs and global leadership opportunities.

Let’s take a closer look. I searched Google’s website, which lists about 35 products, and visited the careers section. Wow. This is the first statement you see: “We at Google Canada have found that giving people what they feel they need to work best really pays off in the long run.”

Or how about this one on the “Joining Google” page: “Google is organized around the ability to attract and leverage the talent of exceptional technologists and business people. We have been lucky to recruit many creative, principled, and hard-working stars.” The page then sets out what to expect during the hiring process, including preparing a resumé and preparing for the interview.

And how many companies tell prospective employees this: “We don’t just want you to have a great job. We want you to have a great life. We provide you with everything you need to be productive and happy on and off the clock.”

Google wants to make it clear that it is no conventional company; it is committed to retaining a small-company feel, even though the company is enormous and growing, and reinforcing a belief that every employee is integral to the company’s success.

Furthermore, the company provides individually tailored compensation packages that can comprise competitive salary, bonus and equity components, along with the opportunity to earn further financial bonuses and rewards.

In its three Canadian company offices (Montreal, Toronto and Waterloo), and worldwide, Google’s employees appear to be quite happy.

It goes on. Under “Life at Google”, the website lists benefits of working at Google. Assuming it’s all true, I can see why the survey results list Google as number one in attractiveness:

  • Health and well-being: medical and health packages, and generous nutrition and fitness benefits
  • Financial rewards: competitive compensation packages; opportunities to receive additional bonuses and Google discounts
  • Peace of mind: life and disability insurance, confidential employee assistance for personal, financial and legal matters
  • Learning and development: training and career development programs
  • Time away from the office: generous annual leave allowances and policies so employees can work hard and have plenty of time away to “play hard”
  • Supporting families: commitment to supporting families of all shapes and sizes; “We always strive to go above and beyond the norm for maternity and paternity leave, and we also give new parents a financial boost after the birth of a baby to help feed their growing family”
  • Giving back and being green: time off for volunteering in local communities and encouragement to give something back whenever employees can
  • Gift matching program: matching contributions of up to $12,000 per year from eligible employees to approved non-profit organizations

After reading this, it is not difficult to see why prospective employees would consider it attractive to become a “Googler”.

What can employers take from this? Employers are recommended to review their policies and practices and attempt to create an environment that is attractive, including the support of employee health, work-life balance, peace of mind, appreciation, development and rewards.

A focus on employee appreciation and acknowledgment is definitely a step in the right direction if the goal is to attract and retain top performers!

Christina Catenacci
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor

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Christina Catenacci

Christina Catenacci, BA, LLB, LLM, was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002 and has since been a member of the Ontario Bar Association. Christina worked as an editor with First Reference between February 2005 and August 2015, working on publications including The Human Resources Advisor (Ontario, Western and Atlantic editions), HRinfodesk discussing topics in Labour and Employment Law. Christina has decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Western Ontario beginning in the fall of 2015. Read more
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