Creating a great place to work: a lesson from Google

happy workplaceIn the Employees’ Choice Awards 2015, run by recruiter Glassdoor, Google has been recognised as the best company to work for in the UK.

The results are based on anonymous feedback from employees, given to Glassdoor voluntarily via a survey of staff in organisations across the UK. The survey covers elements such as work environment, company culture, job satisfaction and senior leadership.

So if you want to create the kind of organisation where people want to, and are proud to, work and become natural brand ambassadors, what can you learn from Google?

Google often says that its success is based on its people. But in order to give people the opportunity to succeed, you need to create a workplace environment that allows them to thrive.

5 lessons from Google: creating a great place to work


1. Get the right people

Having a successful business, that people want to work for, starts and ends with the people you recruit: you need to hire people that ‘fit’ your business. At Google they look for people who have diverse experiences, are digitally savvy, ready to experiment and are passionate about the Google cause. Jim Collins, author and teacher, calls it “getting the right people on the bus.” Look for people who share the same values as you, and make sure they align to your business values and mission. Other characteristics of highly productive employees include resourcefulness, personal responsibility, resiliency, reliability and openness to change.

2. Share everything

Communication is key to creating an organisation people want to work for. At Google they share the entire Board Letter, and the same slides that are presented to the Board of Directors, with all 26,000 employees in a company-wide meeting. Sharing information makes employees feel part of the business and increases employee engagement. Organise meetings to communicate your business results, why decisions are made in a certain way, and what is going on in your business. Encourage teams to share what they are doing with other teams, and create ongoing discussion between them.

3. Create the right kind of workspace

happy workmanThe wrong kind of workspace can demotivate your employees – we all remember those cubicles. The right kind of workspace can boost creativity, improve innovation and collaboration, and improve employee morale and performance. Google has notoriously quirky workspaces: for example every floor has a different layout to encourage employees to explore, and they have open workspaces to encourage people to sit together. Get your employees involved in designing their own workspace or, if you can’t redesign the whole office, give them a small amount of money to furnish their own workspace.

4. Encourage employees to think big

Sometimes employees have great ideas, but they get shut down due to management being afraid of the risk. Google has a phrase: 10x. 10x stands for doing things ten times better instead of focusing on incremental change. This simple phrase gives employees the permission to not be afraid to come up with new ideas. Every new and innovative idea has to start somewhere, whether it’s a new product, process or project. Encourage a culture where the initial idea is encouraged and developed, and, if it can be backed up with data, say ‘yes’ and implement it.

5. Embrace Failure

If you want to succeed, your employees need to be able to implement ideas without fear of being blamed if it goes wrong. At Google they give their employees some direction and guidelines, but then they leave their employees to figure things out. Give your employees the freedom to experiment with new ideas and, if it does go wrong, don’t assign any blame, instead work with them to figure out why it didn’t succeed, and what the business can learn from it.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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