EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: What makes Google a Great Place to Work

- Leadership - Oct 30, 2014

Last week Google was announced as the best multinational workplace by Great Place to Work, surveyor of millions of employees and managers across the world gauging which working environments are the best on a national, regional and global scale.

Joining Google on the list of the top 25 multinationals were the likes of Microsoft, Marriott, FedEx and Daimler.

REVEALED: Top 25 Multinational Workplaces in the World

China Gorman is Chief Executive Officer at Great Place to Work and is fully aware of what it takes for the big blue chip companies to make their way onto the globally-recognised shortlist.

Here she talks exclusively to Business Review Europe about GPTW’s exacting criteria and why Google reached the summit.

BRE: What makes a Great Place to Work?

CG: What makes a great place to work is employees who have a great employee experience and they say it’s a great place to work. It’s not management says ‘we are doing all these great things’.

Two thirds of our methodology for compiling the lists revolves around the voice of the employee. We carry out a trust index survey that measures three critical relationships, the first is with management and leadership - it is all about trust and this is the most important element in making a great place to work.

Do employees trust their leaders? Do they trust them to be fair, promote on merit, pay fairly and be honest? Do leaders show their appreciation for employees? Likewise we ask if leaders trust their employees, it is a two way relationship.

The second relationship is between work and whether employees feel it is contributing towards their wider life goals and ambitions – workers should be proud of what they are doing. The third is about relations between employees – do co-workers have their back, and vice-versa. Organisations that get very high scores have employees who report that they are working like a family.

These themes cover organisations of all scales and sizes and are the key power sources of great workplace cultures.

What is it about Google which has made it reach the top for the past two years?

Google is such an interesting case. Number one, they’re trust index score country by country is very very high – their employees report an enormous amount of trust in their leaders. This could be because their founders are still there and reachable.

READ MORE: Google Crowned Best Company to Work for in the World

They have done an amazing job of maintaining their culture while growing rapidly, which is an extremely difficult thing to do. Many people think about the perks of working at a place like Google, but our results show the perks are the result of a culture.

There are lots of companies in that try to mirror the visual aspects that Google has; you could almost not know which company is which because they all look the same but so many employees will tell you there are companies that have all of this which I would not go to. Trust and relations between employees and leadership runs so much deeper.

Workers at our top companies are seen as humans with families and commitments, not replicable cogs in the wheel.

Do multinationals have advantages that smaller companies may lack in terms of being a great place to work?

We publish lists based on small and medium companies too and the competition is huge. CEOs and other executives frequently say to us that they could so much more with our culture if we had Google’s budget. However, bosses from larger companies say that if they were smaller they could build trust better with a small workforce and more personal relationships.

There is no advantage either side. It starts with the conviction and the intentions of the C-suite.

There is absolutely no downside to being a great place to work either, both financially and in terms of recruitment. People want to come and work for you.

Are there any trends that are particular to Europe?

In general the levels of trust, pride and camaraderie are getting higher, and the best workplaces are getting better.

In Europe the overwhelming trend is a shift away from the hierarchical ethos of bosses taking care of employees as if they are their children. Good bosses are treating their employees as peers and equals. We are seeing a faster movement of this trend in Europe.

Old style management is now becoming a more collaborative team environment and Europe is taking the lead in that regard. 

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