Google’s Approach to Employee Engagement: Surprise! It’s an Algorithm

May 20, 2009

With Google’s recent announcement that they developed an algorithm for sniffing out dissatisfied staff members, there’s been a significant amount of speculation around how the company plans to manage with it, or even whether it’s the best approach.

Since yesterday’s WSJ article announcing the algorithm explained the what, but not the how, it may not have been the best approach for the company. According to WSJ:

Google officials are reluctant to share details of the formula, which is still being tested. The inputs include information from surveys and peer reviews, and Google says the algorithm already has identified employees who felt underused, a key complaint among those who contemplate leaving.

While the company prides itself in being able to search effeciently, we wonder if they have a solid plan in place to actually improve their efforts at employee engagement. While many are awaiting more information on what they expect to be Google’s reinvention of staff retention, information further in the article points to a lack of execution in fundamental employee engagement practices:

Current and former Googlers said the company is losing talent because some employees feel they can’t make the same impact as the company matures. Several said Google provides little formal career planning, and some found the company’s human-resources programs too impersonal.

“They need to come up with ways to keep people engaged,” said Valerie Frederickson, a Silicon Valley personnel consultant who has worked with former Google employees. “If Google was doing this enough, they wouldn’t be losing all these people.”

I want to see a plan for change. If I were working at Google, it wouldn’t be enough for them to tell me “rest assured, if you’re feeling underutilized, we’ll find you.” I’d want to know that there’s a plan for each and every employee to feel as fulfilled in their job as they did when they announced to friends and family, “I’m a Googler now!”

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