Final Presentation for Comm 610, findings and implications of Google’s employee engagement
We are all familiar with Web 2.0 technology and whether we like it or not, it has easily become a part of our daily lives. Web 2.0 not only includes the social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter but also Google, Wikipedia and even this blog site. With the advancement of technology today, companies are using some of the power structures and ideologies embedded in our use of Web 2.0 for oppression or hegemonic practices. For example, do you carry a company cell phone? Is your company email set up on your personal phone? These are just a couple common ways that organizations use technology to gain “control” over employees.
Eisenberg & Goodall state, “Although face to face interaction is still important in todays organizations, advances in communication technology have overcome some of the limits of face to face interaction.” (Eisenberg et al, 2010, p. 301) Some examples of this are video conferencing (Skype) or even work IM. These technologies are implemented to improve work processes and employee productive. There are two types of communication technologies used in the workplace: computer assisted communication technology: (fax, email, smartphones, Internet) and computer assisted decision aiding technologies (information retrieval database systems, online management systems). These are used to “enhance the speed of communication and enable people to communication regardless of geographic location” (Eisengberg et al, 2010, p. 301). Could you imagine completing your job without the use of Internet or email? Me either. I see the use of these technologies in the workplace from the utopian view where it serves to equalize power relations at work by bridging time and space. But it should be noted that I am a fan and avid user of technology so that may influence my opinion. Some employees that may see the use of technology like this through a dystopian view, limiting our freedom under corporate surveillance and scrutiny (Eisenberg et al, 2010, p. 303).
I work in a call center where of course “our calls are monitored for quality and assurance purposes.” But more than just our calls are monitored for quality assurance. Our computer screens are monitored as well while we are on calls. Don’t play a game of solitaire or go on a non work related website while talking on the phone with a customer because executive management can pull any call and listen to it as well as see what’s you are doing on the computer screen. Also you may not want to send an email to your fellow coworker about how you dislike the new hire. Most companies monitor emails as well. Is it all a bit much? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Because you are on the clock and most importantly interacting with a customer on a call, from the company’s perspective, your main priority and focus should be on that interaction. Not a shopping website, game or email. So I do understand the company’s process with that type of monitoring. However, in call centers one thing that is extremely important and monitored is how you use your paid and unpaid time. Lunches/breaks, vacation/sick time is looked at closely in this environment. If anything is out of adherence to your schedule you run the risk of corrective action or even termination. As we all know, emergencies and unforeseen circumstances do occur, so are they taken into consideration? Depends on your tenure, performance and honestly how well liked you are by management. However if you are supposed to be out on sick leave or on a day of bereavement, don’t take a FB photo on a beach! Don’t put up a tweet about what a great time you had at last night’s event! I have witnessed employees get written up for these situations (which can be justified for dishonest behavior) and it brings up another form of technology surveillance. Having all of your coworkers as Facebook friends may seem like a great idea but if thats the case you want to be aware of what you post. And that is a good thing to keep in mind in general, as employers often look to social media profiles before and after the hiring process. This can pose a problem for some people who may feel that their profiles show personal activities and interests and should not be used as evaluation of their work ethic. “The effects of electronic surveillance on people’s right to privacy is a major issue.” (Eisenberg et al, 2010, p. 307) This form of monitoring and oppression fits within the six concerns in analysis of communication technology:
1. Humans are agents.
2. Tacit knowledge should be respected.
3. Understanding is partial.
4. Technology is politically ambiguous.
5. Informal communication must be acknowledged.
6. Counterrational decision making must be acknowledged. (Eisenberg et al, 2010, p. 304).
Personally, I don’t have a resistance to the technological monitoring in my company because I feel that during my work shift, the tools I am using belong to the company so of course they have the right to monitor everything work related. It’s something I have become accustomed to and I follow the rules accordingly. But now that I think about it, I may have been programmed to feel this way. 🙂
Thinking ahead to Web 3.0 and what that will look like, I am thinking it will be a more monitored but more mobile platform. Privacy agreements as well as advertisements on sites such as Facebook or Google may be tailored more toward the user. Occasionally on my Facebook I will see things related to my interests and hobbies (such as the suggestion to “like” the page of an artist who performed at a concert I just attended) and wonder how did Facebook know that? The technology world is moving toward live stream of pictures and videos with the creation of apps such as Vine, Keek and Instagram video. Everyone will basically be the star of their own reality show, which could bring more hegemonic practices and privacy issues because not only is your information public but your live image, location and surroundings are as well. I also see the evolution of electronic personal assistants taking place in Web 3.0. With features such as Siri for iPhone gaining so much popularity and utilization in today’s world, this technology can help those of us who cant afford to hire a personal assistant (me) in our busy day-to-day lives. Lastly with Web 3.0, I foresee the availability of GPS tracking for employers (to locate an employee’s whereabouts while on the clock ) becoming more widespread. This would undoubtedly cause many privacy issues and dismay to employees. Verizon Wireless actually already offers a tracking program of this sort that they provide as an option to their business customers. Now that is a practice that I would be resistant to.
How is oppression or hegemonic practices used in your workplace? Are you resistant or receptive to these practices?
*Images courtesy of Google Images*
Eisenberg, E.M., Goodall, H.L. & Trethewey. A. (2010) Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint. (6th ed.) Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s.
Google’s always believed that the right people can do big things. That’s why we treat our people so well : so they can concentrate on innovating and collaborating.
– Stacy Sullivan, Chief Culture Officer
Google has frequently topped the Fortune 100 list of “best companies to work for” and the company is known for their fun and unique workplace culture. I will be using the Expectancy Theory of Motivation for my theoretical framework to conduct an ideological analysis of the productivity of Google employees, as a result of Google’s high employee engagement and incredible corporate environment. I will analyze interviews/articles about Google’s HR team (a team titled “People Operations”) and videos that exhibit a day in the life of Google employees such as “The Google Life”.
Employee engagement is very important to an organization because engaged workers increase profitability, are less likely to leave an employer and they are more likely to be motivated and advance their careers (Christensen, 2013). In conducting my research about the company, I wanted to apply for a job at Google! The perks and benefits are just unbelievable! Google makes their workplace not feel like work and make their employees feel right at home (literally, with dinner and PJs) which is what we all want, right? How many of us have said: “I would be so happy and get all my work done if I could just work from home” or “I wish I had one day a week at work in which I just do what I want.” I know I have said it (almost everyday) and Google provides just that in their corporate office in Silicon Valley, CA.
The topic of Google’s relaxed and nontraditional organizational structure has been very popular among researchers. According to Kuntze and Matulich, Google’s fun workplace environment may be considered a con for some employees ( Kuntze & Matulich, 2009). It can be looked at unstructured and unfocused environment whereas some employees would prefer a more professional and structured organizational environment to stay motivated and productive. However, Lunenberg believes that a workplace environment should honor the valence of rewards and in Google’s case, excellent benefits. Lunenburg also states that leaders should select workers with the required skills and knowledge, clarify job requirements and provide required trained to alter the effort-to-performance value in the expectancy theory (Lunenburg, 2011). Cook agrees that Google’s key to success is the employee’s work process. Because Google employees have freedom and creative expression, the company’s “method of job design is staying away from monolithic hierarchies that stifle and distract creative ideas.” This method provides “psychological benefit to encourage employees to be more committed, more creative, and more productivity.” (Cook, 2009). Although there has been much research on Google’s culture and their employee productivity, researches have not yet aligned the Expectancy Theory of Motivation to Google’s organizational goals to motivate employees, which is the purpose of my paper.
Theoretical Framework: Google Employee Engagement
Here is a video that shows how Googlers work and play. Warning: may cause workplace envy!
Christensen, C. (2013). 4 reasons why investing in employee engagement matters. Retrieved from http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2013/03/4-reasons-why-investing-employee-engagement-matters/62098/
Cook, J. (2009). How Google motivates their employee with rewards and perks. Reteived from http://thinkingleader.hubpages.com/hub/How-Google-Motivates-their-Employees-with-Rewards-and-Perks
Lashinsky, A. ( 2012). Larry Page: Google should be like a family. Retrieved from http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/01/19/best-companies-google-larry-page/?iid=F_F500M
Lunenburg. F. (2011). Expectancy theory of motivation: motivating by altering expectations. International Journal of Management, Business and Administration, 15, 1-6.
Matulich, E., Kuntze, R. (2009). Google: searching for value. Retrieved from http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/09429.pdf
This week we focused on the human relations approach/human resources department and how essential this department is to an organization. The human resource department is one of the most critical functions of an organization as it manages the organization’s most valuable resource: people. The HR department supports many aspects of a business from hiring and on boarding, performance management, training/development, employee benefits, employee safety, compliance, and employee satisfaction. As businesses become more complex, so must the HR functions. Theorists such as Maslow, Mayo, McGregor and Likert developed theories and principles for the original human resources movement and these theories are still in effect in today’s organizations.
I will illustrate a few key points about the changes of HR , based on a case study below:
A Human Relations Case Study: “What about Melissa?”
The year is 1990. Simmons Insurance Group is a small, highly respected, A-rated subsidiary of a large British conglomerate. The company is traditionally structured with four departments including marketing, financial, sales, and claims. At one time, Simmons had over 200 employees, but today it has been cut back to about 50.
Melissa, a bright, highly motivated individual, has worked for the Simmons Insurance Group for four years. She started as a summer intern right after college graduation working across departments learning the basics about coverage, investigations, liability, damage assessment and settlement of claims. Melissa was a star performer and, at the end of her internship, she was hired full time as a claims associate. Within a year of her hire date, Melissa was promoted to senior claims associate. Although she works long hours, Melissa enjoys her job for the variety of skills it requires. She is well liked by her coworkers in all departments, particularly for her willingness to lend a hand with any problem that arises. Melissa has hopes of being promoted to claims manager soon. However, due to cutbacks, the claims department recently experienced substantial downsizing and Melissa’s group has already been cut in half.
Fearing that her job is next on the chopping block, Melissa approaches senior management with the idea that a new position be created for Melissa. Melissa witnessed problems arise when there was miscommunication between departments. Seeing a need to break up the silos of the organizational structure, Melissa suggests that her job title be Director of Internal Support and that her job responsibilities would include supporting all departments with whatever needs arise but most importantly to bridge departments to ensure consistent, open communication and excellent customer relations. Senior managers are wary of the new position, particularly given budget constraints. They meet to discuss the matter.
The human relations approach emphasizes the interpersonal and social needs of individuals (Eisenberg, et al., 2010, 75). Mayo stressed limits of individual rationality and importance of interpersonal relations (Eisenberg, et al., 2010, 72). Mayo and a group of associates introduced the Hawthorne Effect as a series of research, by examining the physical and environmental influences of the workplace (brightness of lights, humidity) and later, moved into the psychological aspects (breaks, group pressure, working hours, managerial leadership (Clark, 2010). What Mayo learned from the study was that increased attention raises productivity.
Individuals are swayed by group norms and do not act alone only in accord with their self interests , and individual decisions are not entirely rational but are influenced by emotions (Eisenberg, et al., 2010, 72). In the case study, Melissa is fearful of job security which leads to her proposal of the new position: Director of Internal Support. Although Melissa is proven to be a strong asset to the team, her proposal can be seen as premature of such a request (as she has only been full time with the company for a year) and also may not align with the budget of the company. The managers may feel that her suggestion is an ultimatum and that if she doesn’t get the position she will not stay with the company or that her performance may slip due to fear of losing her job. The reaction of the managers depend of their willingness to trade profitability for employee well being (Eisenberg, et al., 2010, 73).
In order to retain a bright and skilled worker , The Simmons Insurance Group may have to adjust the company budget and their company structure. However, Melissa’s job proposal does brings up a good point, the miscommunication within the workplace is something that she noticed and her new position can make a positive change in the organizational environment of the company. I believe every company should operate with some form of the human relations approach, not just HR but actually a department that cares about employee wellbeing. At the company I work for, they offer counseling, therapy and child care as part of an employee assistance program.
The factors to determine the managers’ decision would be her tenure, the skills she brings to the company, the prediction of company’s budget for the new position, training and development for the new role as well as her salary and benefits. I would recommend that Melissa present her idea with a business plan detailing : what her goals are, how she will accomplish these goals in this new role and how it will benefit the company so the managers can have an idea of what changes this new position will bring to the company and they can visualize this new change. If she does obtain the Director of Internal support position, Melissa will be able to align her personal development goals with customer service and based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this new role can be a “reward” to Melissa and lead to growth and self actualization (Eisenberg, et al., 2010, 76).
When the managers make the decision, Likerts’ principle of supportive relationships should come to mind. Likert believed that all interactions within an organization should support individual self-worth and importance (Eisenberg, et al., 2010, 78).
The pros of the human relations perspective are definitely in favor of the employee. Self actualization, personal development and employee benefits and participation. However managers may believe that some cons of human relations perspective could entail giving the employee too much freedom which could limit the employees’ productivity and cause them to lose focus on the organization’s goals.
As explained by Eisenberg and Goodall, employees want to feel that the work they do is worthwhile, Melissa gaining her new role in the company would be a source of personal significance and fulfillment which would lead to job satisfaction and productivity (Eisenberg, et al., 2010, 21-23).
The human relations movement opened doors for companies that excel in corporate culture and employee engagement , such as Google. Google appreciates and implements the value of individual creativity and satisfaction of employee’s needs and almost follows Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to a tee–Google provides food, security , belonging , salary and opportunities to their employees while creating a fun and productive work environment. I will be conducting a performance analysis of Google’s employee engagement for my final project in this course.
In conclusion, I personally think the Simmons Insurance Group would oblige to Melissa’s offer and create the position due to her proven success at the company and the need to improve customer relations in the business. What do you think will happen to Melissa? If you were a manager at Simmons Insurance Group, would you take her up on her proposal for her new role? Can you think of any improvements needed in your workplace that would require a new position?
*Images courtesy of Google Images*
Clark, D. (2010). Hawthorne effect. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/history/hawthorne.html
Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
This week was the start of my new class: Social Construction of Organizing.
I can tell this will be another very interesting class as it’s about organizations and the organizing of them. (Too much use of the word, “organize”, sorry) Since I work for a huge corporation, Verizon Wireless, I know that I will have many examples to use in my coursework.
This blog post will entail how the landscape of organizing has changed in the last twenty years.
The most obvious form of change in organizations is the advancement of technology. Communication technology is defined in our reading, as any type of electronics tool or device that may be used to enhance or enable information sharing or person to person interaction. (Eisenberg et al, 2010, p.15) A lot of jobs are now providing employees with cell phones, laptops, even iPads for work purposes. These electronics are to help the employee do their job more efficiently while keeping contact with employers or their coworkers. For example, the supervisors at my job are given iPads to take/ organize notes, download apps to help productivity and review training material, among other work related purposes.
Along with the advancement of technology, social media is another prominent form of change in organizations. Almost every company has a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account to communicate and conduct business with customers, consumers or clients. According to Eisenberg and Goodall, the social media sites: “remove traditional barriers and offer numerous tools to promote unprecedented levels of time and collaboration across time and space.” (2010, p. 16) For global companies these sites can be beneficial for business as they are accessible to all customers no matter where the company is based. For example; Verizon Wireless has a strong following on twitter and anytime “Verizon Wireless” is tweeted depending on the context, a representative of the social media team can reach out to the customer and address their needs or concerns. This can save the customer the inconvenience of making a call or taking a trip to one of our stores to resolve a simple issue.
The implementation of technology in the workplace helps the company with knowledge management—ways organizations make use of knowledge as a resource and commodity (2010, p.15). Whether its people /interaction based knowledge management or information based knowledge management, technology improves the organizational environment of a workplace by providing innovative ways to communicate.
Constant change is inevitable in our organizing practices because “rapid changes taking place in todays world demand speedy, flexible response.” (2010, p.5). In order to stay ahead of their competitors, companies are always changing. Whether it’s their way of branding/marketing, the product itself, or a certain procedure, companies must align with the demands of the customers/consumers. In the case of urgent organizations (customer service, ATM’s virtual libraries) customers rely on instantaneous service and in order to deliver on the customers demand, companies must continuously improve their tactic and approach. In my experience, almost every month Verizon Wireless launches a new product, plan or network component to stay ahead of competitors such as Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. So far their strategies have been successful, as they remain the top cellular carrier nationwide.
To sum it up, technology has changed the way we interact and communicate at work in the 21st century. How do you utilize technology in the workplace? Has this made your daily responsibilities more efficient?
Eisenberg, E.M., Goodall Jr., H.L., Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: balancing creativity and constraint (sixth ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Image retrieved from: http://blog.mindjet.com/2012/06/the-evolution-of-workplace-technology-infographic/