Google’s human resources strategies are effective. The objective of Google’s human resources strategy is to attract the best workers in its industry and to retain them. Knowledge industries compete for the brightest workers by offering them a variety of enticements — money, perks, benefits and opportunity to work on projects that interest them. It is basically HR by highly intelligent, creative people for highly intelligent, creative people. The point is that Google needs to experience continuous innovation in order to maintain its position as industry leader in a fast-evolving knowledge industry. Thus, it needs to attract and find the brightest, most creative people. Google’s track record speaks for itself in terms of success. It is one of the most valuable companies on the planet, dominates its industry, generates over $1 million in revenue and $200,000 in profit per employee (Sullivan, 2013). By any metric you can name, Google has achieved its strategic objectives and this flows directly from its unique, analytical approach to human resources.
The Google approach to human resources relies on attracting individuals with a high degree of intrinsic motivation. While there is some motivation provided as many employees have access to equity-based compensation, Google is specifically seeking the highly-motivated individual, and is attracting these people by offering the best working environment. The perks are part of it, but Google also gives its employees time to work on their own projects, and of course the opportunity to work with equally talented people. Google is not really interested in employees that it will need to motivate; it wants the motivated people to come to it. Google also recognizes that it is in a state of intense competition for these high-caliber employees. Many of the perks are common in the best Silicon Valley firms, and Google’s edge comes from giving employees time for their own projects, and in the creative work environment it provides. Google sells employees on giving them jobs that will genuinely allow them to become more actualized people, and that is very enticing, even for the most talented people.
Finding good people is a challenge for any organization. One organization with which I am familiar is FedEx. FedEx has a number of strategies for attracting talent. The first strategy for attracting talent is actually quite simple — the company gets its name out in public on its trucks, on its airplane, and with advertising. Larger companies often have an advantage in this regard because people think of them more readily — exposure is an important part of sales, and attracting talent is definitely a sales job.
FedEx has also sought to build its employer brand. Many employees are basically unskilled labor, but FedEx wants the best of unskilled labor. The company has a number of benefits that it offers to its employees, including health care plans, retirement savings plans, employee stock purchase plans, spending benefits (Bryan, 2014). Another aspect is that FedEx is loath to lay off full-time employees, even though its business is highly correlated with the business cycle. With respect to health care, FedEx has sought to provide a number of different options to its employees. In particular it seeks to improve the state of preventative care in order to reduce health issues for its employees, to everybody’s benefit (FedEx, 2004). It is not just that FedEx does these things, but that it seeks to ensure that the public is aware of these things — FedEx is building its employer brand this way to attract a higher caliber of employee.
From there, the company has a program for selection to ensure that it finds the best people in its pool of prospective employees. FedEx seeks employees that have specific traits — good customer service, hard work, loyalty — because when it hires it generally wants to find people that it can put into a long-term employment stream, knowing that turnover is bad for its business but that the industry inevitably will have high turnover rate among new employees. The company’s selection process appears to generally be successful.
A lot of retention at FedEx therefore starts with attracting a broad pool of employees, then selecting those with the traits that the company desires, and offering them the sort of benefits that encourage long-term employment and a commitment to building a career.
FedEx did not design its HR policies based on things it found in HR textbooks, but on the experiences of founder and CEO Fred Smith in the Marines. The company shows loyalty to the employees in the no lay-offs policy, and which is an enticement to employees who are seeking a company in which they can have a high degree of trust. FedEx rightfully recognizes that many of its competitors for low-skilled labor do not offer this trust, but that trust is important for employees. Trust actually provides some degree of motivation, because employees feel that their extra effort will result in reward — if the company is willing to sacrifice for them then they will do the same for the company. I suppose, to an extent, bringing in good people reinforces the idea that the people already there are good, but FedEx actually tells you directly, rather than sending oblique indirect signals. The company has daily meetings at the start of shifts, in order to ensure that employees’ positive contributions are reinforced and to bring everybody together for an element of team spirit. New employees end up integrating seamlessly into the company because of the team-first attitude that is fostered.
Bryan, C. (2014). Everything you need to know about FedEx benefits. Answers.com. Retrieved June 17, 2014 from http://jobs.answers.com/benefits/everything-you-need-to-know-about-FedEx-benefits
FedEx. (2004). Choice offsets cost for FedEx workers. Workforce. Retrieved June 17, 2014 from http://www.workforce.com/articles/choice-offsets-cost-for-FedEx-workers
Sullivan, J. (2013). How Google became the #3 most valuable firm by using people analytics to reinvent HR. Ere.net. Retrieved June 17, 2014 from http://www.ere.net/2013/02/25/how-google-became-the-3-most-valuable-firm-by-using-people-analytics-to-reinvent-hr/
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