Workplace Wellness: What We Can Learn From Google Inc.

If you have seen the movie The Internship, Google Inc. would seem like the dream workplace for you! Truth be told, the film is not far off from reality as the tech giant has been awarded the number one spot in Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for three consecutive years. Ratings from the Great Place to Work Institute (2015) indicate that 90% of Google employees say they often or almost always enjoy their colleagues and find their workplace to be fun and cooperative. An additional 7% of workers indicated that they sometimes benefit from these qualities, accounting for a combined positive rating of 97% in Fortune’s “Great Atmosphere” category. Although it may be difficult for other corporations to allow for perks such as nap pods and an endless supply of free nutritious foods, I am curious as to what other factors make Google such an amazing, healthy workplace and how these can be of use to other employers. 

1. JUST RIGHT CHALLENGES

Google employees report that the company often or almost always provides needed training for professional development, fair promotions, and personally challenging work. A significant number of these employees are thought to carry a large amount of responsibility in the organization without managers having to micromanage them. Managers act with integrity and care, are competent in their respective positions, and provide clear directions and vision for the organization as a whole.

“Google and the senior management team always strive to do the right thing for Googlers and for our users. You are also encouraged to take risks with your work, and if you fail, that's ok! You learn and keep growing. Managers have your best interests at heart. They care about your well-being and health.” – Google employee

2. FUN AND CELEBRATIONS

At Google, employees establish a sense of camaraderie by creating groups for activities that are non-work related, both inside and outside the office. Examples of activities at Google include: 

  • Sports teams
  • Happy hours and birthday parties
  • Baby showers and engagement celebrations
  • Guitar Hero, Mortal Kombat, and Dance Dance Revolution competitions - can you say fun!? 

Takeaway: Your colleagues can make working a pleasant (or not so pleasant) experience. It is important to establish a sense of belonging and family within a team to foster collaborative efforts. Try tapping into your colleagues’ interests and scheduling a fun activity when appropriate.

3. CARING AND SUPPORT

Google has an employee assistance program that is available to all employees who need extra support during difficult times. This multi-faceted program offers assistance in legal matters, credit scores and assessments, finding a veterinarian for pets, and help for those who are grieving, among other things. Google also offers onsite counseling services as well as clinical counselors free of charge.

Tip for Employers: Ensure that your employees are aware of the resources offered and how to access them appropriately.

4. GREAT COMMUNICATION

At Google, 87% of employees report that they often or almost always experience a free and transparent exchange of ideas and information within the organization. Google has a whopping 26,633 employees spread out across more than 30 offices in the United States. Each of these employees are connected through open communication portals and by having access to the resources they need. Nine out of ten employees say that management is approachable and easy to talk with.

“I've been in this company for several years and I'm still often truly amazed by its culture. Engineers are free to speak up against bad decisions and the senior management (and even CEO) are willing to take it seriously and discuss solutions.” – Google employee

Tip for Employers: It is important that management genuinely seeks and responds to employee suggestions and ideas. Employees must also be informed about important changes and issues so that they can fulfill their duties given clear expectations.

5. OTHER NEAT GOOGLE PERKS!

  • Onsite package/mailing service
  • Hair salon
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Fitness classes & Weight Watchers meetings
  • Subsidized public transportation
  • Personal concierge service
  • Discounted ticket sales
  • Car wash

Although Google Inc. may be at the pinnacle of workplace wellness, there are many facets that can be effectively transferred or improved upon in other workplaces.

What has your organization done to increase wellness in the workplace? Let us know in the comments below!

References

Fortune. (2015). 100 Best Companies to Work For. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/best-companies/google-1/

Great Place to Work. (2015). Google Inc. Retrieved from http://reviews.greatplacetowork .com/google-inc