The Two Biggest Reasons Google Tops the Best Companies to Work For List

From the HR blog at TLNT.
From the HR blog at TLNT.

Bob Sutton, Stanford University professor and author of The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss, is on the top of my list of must-read blogs and books.

Last week, Prof. Sutton recounted his assessment of why Google is regularly at the top of Fortune magazine’s annual Best Companies to Work For list.

1. Respect and equality is required at all levels

The first reason is that Google does not unduly emphasize status differences among people at different levels or within in the same level. If you watch how people interact there — receptionists and executives, young engineers and senior executives, and people from less prestigious versus more prestigious parts of the company — the more powerful people treat the less powerful people with an unusually large amount of respect, even deference, and the less powerful people don’t cower or kiss-up nearly as much as I see in most places.”

That’s the beauty of strategic recognition – every employee is encouraged to recognize any colleague (up or down the chain of command) for demonstrating core values and contributing to success.

When you reach a max level of recognition program adoption across an entire organization, you can find your hidden power player – the go-to people who are often deliver far beyond the roles they are currently in. But that takes respect for every employee and every role in the organization, from front desk, to head office.

2. Be nice, or fail

The second reason, as senior executive Shona Brown told me in 2006 or so, is that Google appears to be a place where it simply isn’t efficient to act like an asshole. … This woman [another Google employee] admitted that she really wasn’t a very nice person. But after a few months at Google, she learned that she had to be nice to everyone, because otherwise, she couldn’t get anything done! Now that is a sign that an organizational norm is working.”

What’s the culture in your organization? While I advocate hiring for culture, that’s not always possible or, frankly, people slip through the cracks. So, is your culture strong enough to bring those people in line?

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At Google, if you don’t work and play well with others, you won’t get your job done. It’s as simple as that.

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


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