We all knew that Google was a cool place to work, but none of us knew just exactly how cool until The Internship hit theaters last summer. As Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson entered the Googleplex (Google’s California based headquarters), they discovered what can only be described as a playground for adults. Tube slides transported the employees from the top floors to the ground level, nap pods housed sleepy staff members fending off the 2:30 slump, and the campus outside was bustling with recreational activity (including self-driving cars). “It can’t really be like that,” you probably thought, “they have to be exaggerating!” Newsflash: they’re not.
The Googleplex is everything The Internship makes it out to be . . . and more! Not only do the nap pods actually exist, but Google is also home to a sand volleyball pit, a fleet of community bicycles, and a T-Rex skeleton in their quad. Mini cafeterias throughout the campus provide three organic, professionally prepared meals per day at absolutely no cost to the employee. Google employees enjoy subsidized massages, on-site physicians, and free health benefits. On top of that, the Googleplex features a multitude of “break rooms” filled with video games, foosball, and ping pong tables. And the term “Googliness?” That’s a real thing.
In fact, it’s that “Googliness” that keeps Google’s unique company culture thriving year after year–despite the 6,849 employees (on average) that apply on a daily basis. They spend a lot of time (and money!) hiring the right people with the right amount of Googliness. But when it comes to ROI, that Googley culture has paid off big time for the company. Google consistently ranks within the top slots of “best places to work” and has one of the highest employee retention rates in the country (even though they’ve lost hundreds of employees to Facebook–a company with significantly less slides, but plenty of Guitar Hero to make up for it). On top of that, they employ a “People Analytics” team whose sole purpose is studying the “People Operations” of their fellow employees. It’s their job to discover new ways to optimize employee happiness alongside performance. Over the past several years they’ve discovered a few, simple tactics that you can incorporate into your own company (no nap pods required). Here’s a few of our favorites:
Free lunch (oh, and breakfast and dinner) is a huge perk to working at the Googleplex–but there’s more to these free meals than meets the eye. As the employees wait in line for their food, they’re encouraged to interact with the people around them in the cafeteria. In fact, the PA team has discovered that standing in a lunch line for three to four minutes is the optimal time to interact with those in line next to you without wasting precious time. From there, the employees take a seat at one of the long tables in the dining room–long tables expose the employees to more new people than small tables, which encourage cliques. Do as the Googlers do and encourage your employees to interact over lunch (or breakfast–The Newsletter Pro provides a free cereal bar to all employees!)–fill your break room with long tables or common sitting areas and watch the socialization flourish.
2. Warm Greetings
This seems like common sense, but extending a warm greeting to a new employee can have a pretty monumental impact on their productivity over the next nine months. In fact, greeting a new hire with “Hi, nice to meet you, we’re going to be working together!” can increase their overall productivity by 15%! Here at The Newsletter Pro, our new recruits undergo a short orientation within each department. By the end of their first week, not only do they have a good grasp on what each department does, but they’ve met and (oftentimes) befriended the people they’re going to work with.
3. Unconventional Meeting Rooms
Google’s PA team has discovered that, when it comes to sparking creativity, diner booths work better than conference rooms. After all, “You can’t schedule innovation, [and] you can’t schedule idea generation.” And most of the time those brilliant ideas come to you, not in the conference room, but over the dinner table. That being said, you don’t have to fill your office with diner booths, but you do have to think outside the box (er, the conference room) when it comes to scheduling your big meetings. Consider meeting in an unconventional space–like an outdoor venue–or at the very least sharing your ideas over lunch. If the meeting feels stuffy and restricted, your ideas are going to follow suit.
There’s no doubt about it, Google holds the gold standard when it comes to company culture–but who’s to say we don’t have a little Googliness in us all?