Monday, January 19, 2009

Google versus greener grass

Google booth at web20expoImage by leokoivulehto via FlickrSomeone’s gone and sent Michael Arrington a mass email conversation between Xooglers and Google’s HR machine. It’s a study on why Google employees quit.

The email, no doubt, was leaked to him by a disgruntled Xoogler. I don’t imagine Arrington wrestled very long over whether to publish it or not but he does offer some analysis before the cut’n’paste.

I’m not an HR expert (as HR like to remind me!) but I see three common points made in the email.

  1. The employee thought Google would be heaven on earth. They were disappointed.
  2. The hiring process is a real pain.
  3. The employee thought they could make more money elsewhere.

It can take months to join Google. That’s well known. It annoys people. Is it a reason for leaving Google, though? I think hiring process simply becomes a supporting factor for the first gripe – the longer the process takes to join Google then the bigger the initial investment of hope is.

Google probably is a great place to work but I doubt this is soley because of all the extra perks that the company offers. The Xooglers dismiss these and say they count for very little.

Here at bigmouthmedia we’ve won more than a few ‘best place to work’ awards and I know they’re not just based on what the company says they do for their employees and a lot of attention is paid to surveying the employees and asking their opinion. In order for Google to have won these awards then the overwhelming majority of employees must be very happy there.

However, no matter how good it is to work at Google – it is not as good as you hoped it would be.

Xooglers with jobs may prefer their current roles for the little reasons – a smaller team, less expectation or simply relief that they found employment after Google.

Let’s look at that third point – the Xooglers thought they could make more money elsewhere.

I bet these are the young Xooglers. These former Google employees are likely to be the college grads who’ve never had a job elsewhere. These people don’t know what it is like in traditional companies where the career ladder is a prehistoric beast that crawls along a glacier speed.

If digital is your first job then you can be forgiven for getting caught up in the speed of the sector. Most other industries aren't as fast.

Those employees who count Google as their first job may also be too inexperienced to appreciate just the extent at which headhunters and recruitment agency can lie. If you poke your head above the parapets and express interest in a role outside the company then lots of people will reassure you that you’ll earn a lot more.

Once those lies – or shall we say optimistic evaluations – reach your ears then a wrestle with temptation and frustration begins. If you can’t dismiss the claims then you’re going to wonder if they’re true.

I bet many of the people who left Google to go on for more pay elsewhere are now very insecure in their jobs. The company who hired them may well have extremely high expectations which will be hard to meet. Even if they are being met the Xoogler is an expense hire and it is now an awful time in the economy.

The challenge Google faces is that a very large percentage of their workforce are inexperienced in the job market. These are the employees who’ll wonder whether the grass is greener elsewhere. These are not the employees who’ve been around long enough to recognise a good thing when they see it.

Me? I wouldn‘t like to work for Google. I greatly prefer working with Google.

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