Google hiring policy is key to its success as best place to work in UK

Google HR chief Liane Hornsey has attributed the internet search giant’s success as the best place to work in the UK to its obsessional hiring policy.

The Great Place to Work Institute named Google top of its 50 Best Workplaces in the UK last week, following employee surveys of 1.5 million workers across 4,000 organisations.

Hornsey, HR director for EMEA Google, lifted the lid on what made the company so successful in maintaining high staff morale and retention rates.

“The cornerstone of what we’re doing at Google that is very different is we put a big emphasis on hiring,” Hornsey told Personnel Today.

“We try very hard to find the right people, people who will fit in with the Google culture, because we believe that if you can hire the right people, then everything else just flows from that.”

Hornsey said the company was willing to wait for several years, interviewing hundreds of applicants, to find a candidate that fits its culture. Job interviews are conducted by direct line managers as well as the candidate’s potential peers and subordinates.

Google has become famous worldwide for lavishing gifts and perks on its staff. Last year, all UK employees received a bicycle. Staff also get free gourmet meals throughout the day. Google’s HR team helps encourage its working culture, but stops short of controlling it, Hornsey said.

She added that financial and managing directors were often sent down to face questions at staff gatherings on Fridays, which usually include alcohol.

The company has a policy of unlimited sick leave, and only expects employees to work hard 70% of the time. It factors in opportunities for staff to think of ways to work better and allows impromptu sporting games during the working day.

“People thrive in an organisation built on trust, and that allows them some flexibility to manage their work in their own time and their own way,” said Hornsey.

If it sounds like the kind of place for you, be warned – Google receives more than one million job applications a year, and has a voluntary turnover of just 4.3%. 

Top six best workplaces in the UK

Company (staff numbers)

  1. Google (584)
  2. Structure Group (48)
  3. Asthma UK (76)
  4. Impact (95)
  5. Novo Nordisk (264)
  6. Beaverbrooks (566)

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