Google Inc.: The Human Resource Issues

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Introduction

Organisations require specialised equipments and tools to ensure that they may succeed in their daily duties. In the market, different equipment and tools exist ranging from human resource to technology. An example of organisation that champions the use of technology especially information technology is Google Inc., a company that specialises in Internet search engine (Elgin and Hesseldahl 36). Other products and profit generation activities that the company champions include online mapping, email, social networking, office productivity, mobile phone operating system, open source web browser and video sharing services. Moreover, Google Inc. has acquired and collaborated with external firms to expand product offering. To succeed in its operation, Google has championed the use of information technology as well as its human resource team as elaborated in this report (Verma 3).

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Scope

The scope of this case analysis is to evaluate Google as an organization and come up with solutions to the inherent human resource issues that it faces. As Google has grown both financially and in resources, the human resource at the company has also grown. From a work force of twenty employees in 1998, the company currently has over twenty thousand staff based all around the world. This report will investigate the numerous internal and external human resource factors that usually exist and profoundly impact on the planning and innovation functions of the organisation. In most instances, these factors usually have enormous influence on employee productivity (Elgin and Hesseldahl 36). Thus, it is paramount for human resource staff at Google to assess and determine on how these internal and external factors can affect their planning functions. This means Google should determine constraints and issues followed by listing the assumptions and facts that could affect implementation of the plan. Google can achieve this factors through environmental assessment through identification and analysing of forces, trends, and phenomena that may have influence in formulating and implementing strategies (Google, 2010). The purpose of environmental assessment is to determine the factors that affect the organisation and try to acclimatise to the environmental changes resulting in maximisation of opportunities while minimising threats. After obtaining information based on environmental assessment, prioritises issues, assumptions and constraints are formulated in a way to influence Google operation requirements.

Background

Started in 1996, Google was started by two students in 1995 in their bid to enrich internet experience for users all around the world. The two thought of a search engine that would connect all web pages and rank them in order of relevance rather than the frequency or words on websites. At the time, most search engines ranked pages in terms of the frequency or the number of times that a certain word could be located on any website. Google ranked pages in terms of how relevant the page was to the search query. Starting from the novel idea, Google today offers great features that ensure that working with a computer through surfing the internet is an easy process. The features that include bookmarks and web history ensure that information can still be retrieved later. Moreover, the Google toolbar features include spellchecker, translation capabilities and auto links to new pages. Nevertheless, some buttons can be customized to ensure that a user can introduce certain features that can receive gadget support. Generally, the Google toolbar ensures that information can be accessed easily.

It also offers a Google Desktop that ensures searching the computer and organizing the files easier. This search application ensures that emails, photos, chats, web pages and Gmail can easily be searched. Moreover, the desktop facility ensures that files and other details from the internet can be searched and organized. This capability is improved by the position of Google being a powerful search engine that searches information with the help of many languages in different localities or market segments. Additionally, the Google search engine offers many ways that information can be searched in the Internet, which includes use of picture icons, properties, books, places and maps.

Google website offers a number of tools that are outstanding and most of the times are free of charge compared to other tools such has those of Microsoft Office. Some of these tools include Google Docs that deals with spreadsheets, presentation and documents, Calendar, Notebook and Pages that are found within their site. Google Tools are advantageous over their competitors in that it allows collaboration and interactivity. For example, if there is a single document that is available, it can be shared by many people and at the same time can be published to the web. Moreover, the settings that come with these Tools ensure that the material is private and it is protected by a password.

Human Resource Management at Google

With the emergence of today’s knowledge based staff, organisations such as Google are bound to be equally competitive in attracting and retaining skilled staff if they have to continue in business. The main assets of any knowledge driven organisations such as Google are knowledge workers who continuously strive to develop and implement organisation strategies (Kazi, 2005). Human resource management processes therefore becomes a key instrument of creativity and innovation necessary for development of innate and novel ideas. Human resource management is viewed as a traditional function for acquisition and development of manpower. This function is a critical function for managing intellectual property just like knowledge management. The two are different disciplines but human resource management entails acquisition and development of human resources while knowledge management substantially depends on human resources for the creativity and innovation (Kirkpatrick 16).

The growing workforce and also the change in demography of staff and their needs present dynamic challenges as to how to harness talent that will continue to foster the innovations that Google is famous for. As illustrated in the case study, there are factors that influence the groth and success of innovative projects at Google namely:

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Team work

At Google, projects are handled by specialized teams. A team can be defined as a collection of people who are connected in a common objective. Teams are quite vital in accomplishing complex tasks particularly those that have numerous subtasks that are interdependent. A team is not necessarily comprised of a group of people. It is often comprised of members who generate synergy and have complimentary skills through a connected effort that makes it easy for members to achieve high potentials in terms of maximization of their strengths and minimization of their weaknesses. At Google, optimal interaction of individuals in teams is one of the most important aspects that bring about project success. The reason for this is that when project members pull their strengths together, the most difficult problem around the project turns out to be a minor problem in the eyes of the team. In this respect, the potential of a team in bringing about project success can not be overemphasized (Kirkpatrick 16).

One of the major human resource issues facing the human resource department is the construction of optimal teams that can maximize on the strengths of its members in ensuring that innovation is fostered and harnessed throughout the organization. At Google, a team is defined in terms of attributes rather than by the number of people in it. As the organization grows, it has had to accommodate younger staff members with different set of needs. This has also impacted the number of individuals in any team and also the individuality of team members. The Human resource team at Google have come to realize that team formation does not only involve grouping of people but it goes beyond to encompass the behaviors displayed by individuals. The realization of the fact that team members have different behavioral attributes must be used as the guiding factor in the construction of optimal teams by the project office. The project office should seek to identify the specific roles each team member should bring to the board in order to ensure that the potentials of different members are well utilized.

Staff Turnover

As the organization gets bigger staff turnover at Google remains to be an imminent source of concern. Innovative employees at the organization are at risk of feeling lost among the sea of workers based all around the world. The human resource management team has identified a number of factors associated with turnover, but the factors are not uniform all through in the organization. These factors range from compensation practices, job content, career paths and promotion policies, responsibility and authority relationships as well as hiring practices. Several suggestions have been postulated on the need to reduce the rate of employee turnover as this can lead to billions in terms of lost revenue to the organization. The increasing competition between Google and its rivals has meant that the human resource department in the organization has had to increase the terms and conditions set out for its employees in a bid to ensure that they stay and work for the organization. Some of the steps taken by Google include: consistent application of polices in order to ensure equal and fair treatment of employees regardless of the potential or performance of the individual employees, offering appropriate recognition and providing positive feedbacks through developmental and evaluative performance appraisals, monitoring performances fairly and providing clear or precise instructions, keeping communication lines open and clear and outlining performances expectations in an unequivocal manner, encouraging innovation, welcoming suggestions and encouraging the employees to pursue new methods of carrying out their responsibilities an task as long as they do not do so out of the terms of their employment, addressing the employees grievances and resolving their conflicts fairly and timely as well as providing a competitive pay for the employees. These steps have resulted in a more positive staff as the steps increase the morale of the employees.

While the number of applicants for posts at Google is swelling, the organization has to mitigate any threats that might result from staff turnover. While this has been effective in the past, Google must minimize any cases of staff turnover by ensuring that the best and brightest are not snapped out of the organization by other competitors.

Conclusion

According to the article, the Human resource issues at Google seem to be handled professionally. This is clearly illustrated by the mood and also through the employee feedback that has been received through a number of surveys carried out in the organization. Recommendations to the organization would include mitigating any cases of staff turn over as Google is highly reliant on its staff, just like any other knowledge based organization.

References

Elgin, Ben and Hesseldahl, Arik. Google’s Grand Ambitions. Business Week, 2005 Issue 3949, p36-37.

Kirkpatrick, David. Google’s Crafty Star Search, Business Week, 2005 Issue 3950, p16-16, 1/3p;

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Verma, Mridu. Google’s HR Dilemma. Pune: ICFAI Business School, 2006.

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