Building a Better Work Environment

Google. For many students, it sounds like the ideal workplace, especially with movies like The Internship creating Hollywood appeal. When many people think of Google and startup workplaces, they think of free food, ping pong tables juxtaposed between desks, and nap pods.

Obviously, Google would not survive if its employees ate, played ping pong, and napped most of the time. So what does Google truly do to cultivate an environment that fosters results?

googleLast week, ILR alum Demian Caproni (‘05) spoke to students about People Operations at Google. After graduating from Cornell in 2005, he obtained a Masters in Dispute Resolution and joined Google as a member of its first rotational program. Through this, he learned how Google drives its success. Below are the main suggestions he made to drive employee engagement:

Hear employees’ concerns.

Google surveys its employees on a regular basis to find out what they think of the company, to hear their concerns, and gather feedback about work-life balance. About 97% of employees participate. From there, Google creates sub-teams that address the main concerns identified from the surveys. Mr. Caproni personally worked on a work-life balance team that emerged from the surveys.

Create a place where employees can be themselves.

The way you interact with people likely differs between class, interviews, clubs, and work. Google seeks to break down these walls so you bring your true self to work. They believe that with this, people are more creative and are likely to build innovative platforms and products.

In order to create a space where people can be themselves, Google trains its employees to recognize their unconscious biases and the way they affect their interactions and decisions. Additionally, Google supports affinity groups within the company to help employees find community.

Understand failure is fine. Fail fast and learn.

It is a lesson we hear a lot in entrepreneurship, and this mindset applies to Google as well. Mr. Caproni discussed a co-worker who was upset about having three projects fail in six years, but she was able to develop and grow from there. As companies grow, it is important to maintain a tolerance for failure.

To learn more about Google’s practices, visit Re:work. Google created this website to inform other companies on ways to “put employees first.”