The purpose of this assignment is to develop learners’ ability to describe the organisational culture of a chosen organisation, identify any inherent problems and propose changes for improvement.
Choose an organisation which you are familiar with (e.g. your workplace or university) and describe the characteristics of its organisational culture. Identify any inherent problems in the organisational culture and propose some changes for improvement.
Organizational culture plays a significant role in making or breaking any organization. Organizational culture is famously described as a set of values, assumptions, principles, rules and beliefs on which the employees of the organization work. These factors are developed with experience and understanding of the top management and the employees in order to decide a mutual ground on which the business operates in order to achieve the goals set by the organization. It is basically an accumulation of the needs and expectations of the management from its employees and vice versa. The reason that makes the organizational culture so important is the fact that workers are the building blocks of the company and they can either take the company to new heights to make it fall to the ground. Happy employees are the key to successful business (Adams, 2011).
This report analyses the work culture at the world famous organization Google. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) happens to be one of the most liked organization globally, to an extent that “googling” became a popular term while referring to searching information on the internet. Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996 laid the foundation of this organization as their university project while studying at Stanford University. The company became the leader among other search engines in 2009 crossing over 1 billion searches in a day (Kim, 2013). Later it introduced other innovative applications like Google earth, Google Maps, Picasa, Gmail, Google maps and the most successful Google Chrome. It is also among the most favored companies among others when it comes to job attractiveness. Everybody wants to work for Google. The existing employees enjoy a number of facilities which makes Google one of the best companies to work for. The organizational culture at Google is often highly admirable, but has a key issue of lack of diversity among other less prominent problems. The company has been highly criticized for being biased towards certain castes and creeds and has also been called sexist numerous times. This report discusses the organizational culture at Google, its problems and limitation and in the end provides some suggestions on how the company can encourage diversity at work and increase the rate of employee retention at work (Bulygo, 2016).
Organizational culture refers to the overall work environment prevailing at any organization in which the employees of the organization work on a daily basis. Organizational culture can be a critical factor in making a business successful or unsuccessful. Google has often been characterized with a very good organizational culture. The company has been among the leaders in the list of “Fortune 100’s Best Companies to Work for” (McGregor, 2014). The employees working at Google enjoy facilities like afternoon volleyball breaks, subsidized massages, free chef-prepared food and many such perks. Google believes in the saying “All work and no play, will make Jack a dull boy”. The company is well aware of the fact that working with them an sometimes be too overwhelming for its employees and hence it has enabled its employees to have access to some leisure activities at the workplace. This makes the company to attain employee loyalty and increase employee retention.
There are several factors that contribute to the excellent corporate culture at Google. The company undertakes a thorough hiring process to select the brightest and the best people among different people in the talent pool (Kennedy, 2017). The company receives around 1.2 million applications every year and only hires 0.6% people from among those applicants. The company does not only look for highly educated and well experienced people, but also gives great importance to characteristics like creative thinking, excellent problem solving skills and quick thinking abilities. The hiring process at Google helps the company to filter the best available candidates who can contribute and enhance the vibrant organizational culture of the company.
Employees at Google work in an environment where they can freely share their opinions and ideas with each other. Google believes in constantly doing better than what they are currently doing. The employees at Google are given a chance to speak and they are also being listened to carefully as Google considers its employees to be the source of innovation and creativity at work. The employees who provide good ideas are often rewarded by the organization which sets an example for the peers to invest their knowledge in the company too.
Google has also turned the human resource into a science. This means the management of human resources in the organization is done using a scientific approach, which includes taking decisions based on data and analytics. The human resource department in the organization is often referred to as the People Operation department. The studies conducted by this department include subjects like retention algorithms, how to gauge its personnel’s efficiency and studies that suggest the company detail like optimal size of its cafeteria space (Ehteram, 2014). For instance, Google used retention algorithms to identify the cause of the problem that involved women leaving the organization twice more than the men. The cause for this was the maternity plan for the new mothers. The company then made the desirable changes in the existing maternity leave plan, which eventually increased women employee retention. This clearly shows how effectively the company is managing its organizational culture and the relevant problems by using a scientific approach towards the HR management (Kokalitcheva, 2015).
The organizational culture at Google is also characterized by a casual and democratic atmosphere. The company has lesser number of middle managers which reduces the amount of autocracy in the organization. The lack of top-down hierarchy cultivates a more open atmosphere which allows the employees to be more vocal about their opinions and grievances. The company conducts several employee engagement surveys. This also contributes highly to the organizational culture of the company.
Having a clear mission also makes the organizational culture comfortable for the employees. This encourages an intentional culture where employees are clearly communicated about the mission of the organization and what is expected from them. This enables the employees to know their role in the organization and how can they can improvise their skills. Employees are aware what they are doing, why are they doing it and how can they do it in the best possible way which makes the employees love their work altogether more (Sheffield, 2015).
Factors contributing to a good organizational culture at Google
Google also uses transparency and open-door environment to keep its organizational culture great. The company conducts weekly meetings called TGIF where information sharing is conducted and this establishes transparency in the organization. Making the employees stay up to date about where the company is planning to go and how its it planning to reach their gives the employees a clarity of their role and responsibilities and additionally makes them feel included in the organization.
Employee recognition for big and small contributions makes the employees love their work. Google understands that appreciation is the best way to reward the employees for whatever small and big contributions they have made towards the organization. Google holds several employee recognition events like ‘The Founders Awards’ which provides employees with outstanding performance incentives in terms of money and facilities. The company doesn’t only celebrate but also celebrates failure which makes it one of the best companies to work for.
Lastly, the company indulges in several community engagement activities outside the work which boosts the organizational culture. Excellent corporate culture is often characterized by a strong commitment to community. Google has made a contribution of around $1.2 billion to the Berkley County data center facility as a long-term investment and almost $1 million towards various charitable trusts in South Carolina (Baker, 2014). The company also holds events like Google Fest that gives the employees of the company to get involved in community building and activity. The involvement in such activities gives the employees a chance to enhance their relationship with their co-workers outside the work premises which makes the organizational culture smoother. This great organizational culture contributes highly towards increasing the employee productivity and the productivity of the business.
Even though Google has always been among one of the best companies to work for, yet there are a number of problems in the organizational culture of Google which have been discussed as follows:
- Biased Hiring Procedure
Google is often criticized for having a biased hiring procedure. Even though the company is constantly trying to recruit a diverse workforce, the recruitment team ends up selecting candidates that are white skinned or male candidates. The company is also criticized for using vague terms like “culture fit” while hiring people, which clearly has no relevance with the personal skills and experience of the candidates (Pichai, 2017).
- Toxic Work Culture
A black engineer named named Erica who used to work for Google told Fast company that she stopped working at Google because of the racism that she was facing at her workplace. She explained how she felt embarrassed because a lot of people would mistake her to be the security guard. She even overheard various conversations where her coworkers did not believe her skills and made comments about black people being less intelligent. A survey conducted by Pysch Tests showed that this toxic organizational culture was the reason for a number of employees leaving Google. In fact, it was the second most common reason for employees working with the organization to leave it (Singal, 2017).
- Lax responses to sexism and racism
According to the employees, Google has a strict policy against racism. The policy states that the company has zero tolerance towards sexism and racism, but it only seems to be restricted to the papers only. This policy is not being applied to practical use. The employees state that the managers are required to at least penalize people, if not fire them for not adhering to the company’s strong values against racism and sexism. Nobody at Google has yet been fired for this reason, which clearly shows that neither the employees nor their managers are taking the policy and this value seriously (Winegarner, 2017).
Google - A Scientific Approach to HR Management
Additional to these main problems, the company has several other loopholes in the organizational culture. Lack of appropriate training is one of those loopholes. The company does not provide relevant training to its employees where they could learn the importance of diversity and how they can benefit from a diverse team force. In fact, this training is much needed since the problem of racism is very evident in the organizational culture of Google. Also, Google has a staggering percentage of white or Asian men in its organization. This makes the organization look sexist on the whole. "We're still not where we want to be when it comes to diversity," the tech giant said alongside data from January that shows 70 per cent of Google’s workforce is male, rising to almost 80 per cent at the most senior level. The demographic analysis of the organization clearly reveals that the stereotypes of white and Asian men working in the technology sector is not a myth and that Google has a long way to go to change this about its corporate culture. The black people working at Google form only 2.3 percent of the total employees while the percentage of Hispanic people is around 3 percent (Weiss, 2017).
Google’s organizational culture is not representative, partially due to the effects of the firm’s managerial structure. In real meaning, the structure and culture has assisted to influence the capabilities of the organization. The Google’s organizational culture is:
The company’s Openness is attained because of the flexibility and the matrix organizational structure. The overall environment of the Google’s workplace becomes tepid due to the company’s work environment helps to sustain a company which facilitates friendly environment, where the people can interact with each other and share knowledge opinions and ideas with each other, including the CEO Larry Page. Thus, Google’s organizational culture assists excellence in modernization with sharing of ideas and competence to quickly respond to the market.
Some of the recommendations are mentioned below in the form of points:
- Google needs to get rid of the root cause of the problem of a diverse workforce, which is biased hirings. A black person applying for a role at Google will face far more obstacles than a person with white skin. This blocks the entry of diverse people in the organization at a very initial level. Any person whose name sounds like the name of a black person is not even called for an interview sometimes, and most of the ones who make it to the interviews are rejected in the heads of the recruiters as soon as they look at them. To get rid of this, Google needs to provide training to its HR team that is responsible for recruiting people (McGregor, 2017). In this training the importance of diversity should be made clear to the team so that they do not reject the applicants only on the basis of they creed ad skin color.
- The Society for Human Resource Management suggests that getting the employyes trained withEnglish language skills is a great method to encourage diversity in the workplace. This has been stated at the Workforce Diversity Network website. This kind of training helps the employees to gain confidence. Sometimes a very skilled employee is not able to give his/her best at work because of the language barrier and lack of confidence. Such programs will also help the employees to become aware about various trends and practices that are prevalent in the organization (Joseph, 2017).
- Google should also introduce an evaluation form. A standardized form should be used to evaluate the skills and capabilities of the applicants. This will help to prevent any discriminatory practices during the process of recruitment. This kind of form will allow the company to judge all the applicants on the same evaluation criteria which will minimize the chances of any bias-ness and interjecting personal prejudices.
- Google should also conduct several meetings where the employees are explained about the benefits of having diverse team force. People can be more welcoming towards the minorities, if they feel they can have any personal benefit from their presence in the organization. The company should conduct such meetings before every new recruitment session has to take place, so that the new recruited employees do not have to face a hostile environment at work during their initial days itself (Thomas, 2012).
- The company should additionally make sure that the policies that have been framed on paper are also put to use practically. As a globally famous company, Google has a set of policies ad rules to deal with organizational culture problems, the use of which is only restricted to being present in the policy book. They never get implemented, either because of unawareness or unwillingness. The company needs to become more strict about issues like these so that the employees can trust the company and feel safe at work (Krawcheck, 2014).
To conclude, it can be said that Google’s successfulness can be greatly attributed to its strong organizational culture that encourages innovation in employees. The organization remains to be among the top companies in terms of employee attractiveness. Google provides its employees with a very motivating work environment where the workers can flourish both personally and professionally. It encourages innovation and risk taking. Team spirit is the key feature of the organization’s work culture. Google, however, lacks in diverse team members.The company has however been often blamed for practicing favorism on the basis of cultural background of the applicants and their skin color. These allegations are not entirely true, but as they say there is no smoke without the fire. This report suggests some ways for the company to wash away these allegations. These suggestions can help the company to attract better people to work for the company.
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