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Google Inc.’s Organizational Psychology Essay

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Updated: Jul 7th, 2021


In the modern globalization of the business environment, work psychology faces numerous challenges. As there is increasingly more accountability and expectations from firms, work psychology can be applied to such issues as cross-cultural interaction, staff support, competent management, and the workplace environment among others. (Sutton, 2015). The following report will focus on the aspect of talent management on a case study example of the tech giant Google. Theoretical background will be provided, indicating numerous methods that talent can be measured, identified, recruited, and retained. The information will then be applied to Google’s experiences with employee recruitment and retention, with further recommendations provided and analyzed within the context of talent management. Organizational psychology plays a critical role in the effectiveness of a firm to find candidates which are able to demonstrate high performance on the job while fitting into the workplace culture, thus a complex talent management framework and multi-layered hiring practices should be introduced for the best outcomes.

Theoretical Background

Measuring Talent

From a business perspective, success depends on having competent and innovative employees at the right time. An Organization must attract, develop and retain talent, using the human capital within the business to maximize competitive advantage (Collings & Mellahi, 2009). Talent is considered to be an indication of how good an individual is at their job which must be measured through some means. Bartram (2005) suggests that instead of measuring talent, a criterion-based approach should be used that most effectively predicts meaningful behavior. Competencies, or specific qualities that an Organization desires in potential employees can be evaluated during recruitment through questionnaires and psychometric tests. These competencies can include aspects such as leadership, cooperation, presentation, analysis, creativity, Organization, adaptation, and enterprising among others that can be beneficial to employees in various positions within an Organization (Bartram, 2005).

A variety of methods and tests have been developed by vocational psychologists over the years to measure talent. These include standardized self-assessment tools, reflection exercises, performance-potential matrices, the Wechsler individual achievement test, and the Self-Regulation and Concentration Test among many others. Even specific HRM-developed IQ tests have been used for analytical selection procedures. Each test and measurement has its benefits and limitations in measuring the complex and abstract concept of talent. It is recommended to combine instruments that can measure innate ability, systematic development, motivation, and interests to provide a holistic overview of a candidate. Furthermore, introducing varying in terms of measurement approaches, such as standardized or open-ended tests, can improve evaluation. Multisource assessments can help to reduce bias in the already subjective talent-identification process (Nijs, Gallardo-Gallardo, Dries, & Sels, 2014).

Identifying Talent

Talent manifests itself through excellent performance results which many HR managers agree is the best measure. However, there are two underlying components of talent – ability and the affective element. This suggests that employees who are not demonstrating excellence but have the ability to do so can be managed towards the discovery of their innate talents through proper motivation and guidance towards specific activities. Innate ability may be present in some individuals, while others thrive through systemic development in a particular set of skills or knowledge. Therefore, talent identification practices must focus not only on talent that has already been displayed in a previous Organizational setting but on employees who demonstrate a potential for different or bigger roles in the future. Talent is a multi-layered concept and identification based on performance scores alone is ineffective (Nijs et al., 2014).

The biggest emphasis in talent management is selection and recruitment. Most Organizations and departments have explicit protocols to identify the best candidates based on their biographical data such as background, education, and work experience (Thunnissen, 2016). During the selection process, recruiters are seeking individuals that not only have excellent technical competence in their field but also a high degree of flexibility, adaptability, and functioning in complex environments (Hurn, 2014). Recruiters can use a wide range of methods to evaluate candidates such as structured and unstructured interviews and the use of factual and testimonial references which have their benefits and limitations. Psychometric tests may be introduced at later stages of the selection process to assess employees for cognitive and sensory ability or measures of personality. Finally, some Organizations may direct candidates to assessment centers or asked to provide a work sample, both of which provide evidence of performance capabilities.

Developing and Retaining Talent

Once employees are recruited, it is vital to develop talented workers and ensure that they are retained by the company. A standardized set of measures helps managers to track changes within and between employees to determine performance or a need for improvement. Individualized measures can also be introduced by providing specific objectives to individual employees that they can use to improve performance. Some managers attempt to make performance comparisons, using tools such as employee rankings or 360º appraisals. In a highly competitive business climate, it is crucial for firms to understand who their key talent is and develop strong strategies to incentivize these employees as well monitor their development beyond traditional performance reviews (Harvard Business Review, n.d.).

A study of successful companies, particularly during economic booms, demonstrated that retaining talent is closely interconnected with employee development. Providing education opportunities or training and skill development helps to improve individual competencies in employees. By focusing on individual strengths and improving weaknesses, an employee can be groomed in an optimal learning environment to take on new positions or leadership roles. This is a common activity within talent management known as succession planning which creates a growth and promotion plan in combination with skill development to ensure that an employee remains with the company. Retaining employees can also be done by building the corporate brand, as the quality and popularity of a company can increase the perception of its value. Since switching jobs is inherently a high-risk activity, employees will be less likely to leave a quality brand, but rather choose to invest their time and career with a high-profile employer (Boštjančič & Slana, 2018).

Google Case Study

The case study outlined several issues that Google faced in its human resources department and talent acquisition attempts. The primary problem was the company’s recruitment and talent identification process. Google became popular for the puzzle-like questions asked during interviews which were meant to demonstrate innovativeness and creative thinking as well as a unique problem-solving process. However, data analysis on employees demonstrated that success during interviews had very little impact on the subsequent performance of employees in their specific job positions. Further attempts to introduce more quantitative selection criteria such as university grade point average showed that this also had little relevance to success at the company or effective performance (Sutton, 2015). Google was faced with the issue of how to reform its recruitment and talent acquisition process to hire employees that would do well the available jobs while matching the company’s strive to hire innovative thinkers.

Another issue that Google faces is extremely low retention rates for the industry. The case study states that the median tenure at Google was just over one year, while other Fortune 500 companies average at 3.6 years (Sutton, 2015). This is despite Google’s popularity, the fourth largest median salary, and an incredible amount of employee perks making the company one of the best to work at for many years. Google’s retention efforts have been labeled as insincere (such as providing perks to promote long working hours) and outright illegal, suggesting that there is an agreement with other major tech companies to prevent talent poaching. This is an indication that retention practices require significant improvement at Google that would do more to increase tenure.

After data that identified that its initial talent acquisition and identification techniques were flawed, Google sought to reform its hiring practices and interview process. The hiring process now follows a semi-structured design where candidates are sought out by a temporary recruiter who is hired to expand outreach for the company and guide candidates through recruitment. The candidates are then followed up on my phone and an on-site interview. Candidates are assessed based on competencies established by the company, which include leadership, role-related knowledge, problem-solving skills, and comfort with ambiguity and teamwork. Interviewers can vary, ranging from HR managers to potential co-workers. The final decision is made by people not involved during the interview process to eliminate potential bias, creating an objective approach based on available information on the candidate and interviewee recommendations (Sutton, 2015). Google seeks to combine a scientific and artistic approach to candidate selection, a strategy that is far more enhanced and comprehensive than the previous approach that Google utilized.

Google also attempted to improve retention rates by building upon what makes the company unique as well as focusing on employee development. The company offers and continues to expand its range of employee amenities and perks, ranging from free food, gyms, and relaxation area to in-house healthcare and coverage of many expenses that workers may have. Furthermore, Google has invested in a strategy of employee training, giving employees the opportunity to teach each other new skills or cover the costs of further education. Overall, the company has focused on creating a binding interpersonal culture in the Organization that supports a common mission, transparency and equality, and the ability to voice concerns directly to the firm’s leadership (Sutton, 2015).

The case study suggests that based on evidence that the issue of hiring seems to have been more effectively addressed. The process is more holistic and comprehensive nowadays, focusing less on specific protocols such as education or the ability to solve puzzles, but rather on examining candidate competencies and attempting to eliminate bias. Talent acquisition is more personable, guided, and thorough, ensuring that candidates are successful for the position that they are applying for or elsewhere in the company. In terms of retention, Google continues to struggle despite its strategies for both employee satisfaction and career development. The case study suggests that this is an indicator that hiring practices are still inefficient at the company and employees are lacking the motivation or purpose to remain in their positions.


The theoretical background of literature applied to the Google case study shows that some issues regarding hiring practices and talent acquisition at the company still need to be addressed. First, the company should improve its recruitment strategy. A recommendation would be to leverage its brand name and online presence for innovative talent acquisition globally. Many information technology firms in recent years have begun to rely on social networking sites as part of an organized HR strategy, allowing for talent sourcing as well as reinforcing a stronger relationship for potential recruits and existing employees. Social networking allows for ease of recruitment and selection, basic pre-employment checks, and a preliminary evaluation of employee character and relations (Nayak, Bhatnagar, & Budhwar, 2017). This can be used to replace the temporary recruits that Google currently hires who are contracted and do not share the same passion for the company, potentially biasing candidate searches.

The labor market and human capital are unique in that it is a two-sided match where the company and the employee must agree to an employment relationship, and both should have a clear understanding of each other’s needs and preferences to make the union effective. However, often facts are misrepresented, and human capital is subject to a level of moral hazard. A misjudgment of an employee’s knowledge, skills, or style of work can lead to costly hires, poor retention rates, and a negative workplace environment (Brymer, Molloy, & Gilbert, 2013). The troublesome history of Google’s hiring practices combined with low retention rates suggests that the company is mismatching candidates to their job positions by failing to properly identify and measure talent. Literature suggests that better talent identification and measurement techniques can significantly benefit this endeavor.

The recommended practices that hire candidates to fit both the Organization and the job will be beneficial for creating a culture that is full of self-motivated and committed employees. The suggested approach focuses on developing talent rather than just acquiring it. Through this model of screening for personality attributes and molding employees into future leaders, a competitive advantage in talent management can be achieved by Google (Beaver & Hutchings, 2005).

It would be recommended for Google to reform its hiring practices and human capital framework for better talent lifecycle management with the hopes to improve retention. Instead of focusing on hiring just the most capable candidates, more attention should be given to their long-term fit within a company. More effort should be dedicated to onboarding talent for them to become acculturated within the Google workplace culture and not want to leave. However, the focus should not be just on new candidates for IT positions, but on reforming performance management and talent investment in the HR department. It is vital to optimizing human capital investments to avoid costly short-term hires. Furthermore, identifying leaders who specialize in talent investment should be brought on to the company. Therefore, the framework focuses on all aspects of talent management, from recruitment and acquisition to development and retaining (Schiemann, 2014).

However, there may an expectation of some drawbacks to the recommended changes. Since they fall in line with more traditional HR practices that ensure structure and conformity, it may have a negative effect of dampening innovation and attracting less “raw talent” employees. Furthermore, hires that are based on a cultural fit can impede diversity that damages core performance in the long run since attempting to hire candidates for high-performance teams which are all single-minded and focused on a mission may result in issues when encountering any issue that requires unique and free-willed minds (Hartung, 2015). Therefore, the recommendations should be taken into a consideration that they offer enough change to improve efficiency but to not drastically modify Google’s innovative and forward-thinking work culture.

Other firms can benefit from implementing the recommendations to some extent. Organizational psychology in the modern era suggests that for effective talent acquisition and retention, appropriate company cultures must be created while also being able to ensure a professional workplace. Companies are struggling to reform their HR practices in the new millennial culture and attract talent which impacts their bottom line (Graen & Grace, 2015). Furthermore, many tech companies are struggling with hiring issues such as diversity, lacking racial minorities and women in the primarily white male sector. It is an issue that is deeply rooted, but many attribute it to biased hiring practices as many diverse candidates are rejected for not having the right characteristics or professional experience (McGee, 2016). Google and other companies which have relied on interviews and CVs require a massive change to their talent acquisition and retention frameworks which these recommendations focus on.


In the conclusion of this report, it is evident that talent is a complex component and its management plays a significant role in hiring and retention practices for the largest firms in the global economy. The traditional definition of talent is challenged by breaking it down into components of ability, development, motivation, and interest. It is also noted that there are numerous possibilities to measure and identify talent to find the best fit for one’s organization. Google made the error in its hiring practices and culture to attract strong candidates that were not the best fit for the company, individual job positions, or workplace culture. Even after making significant changes to the hiring process, the company continues to experience poor retention rates and some level of performance ineffectiveness. It is recommended to overhaul the talent management framework to improve identification and matching techniques to find the perfect candidates.


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