Google Employee Motivation

This sample paper on Google Employee Motivation offers a framework of relevant facts based on the recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body and conclusion of the paper below.


Starbucks, Whole Foods and Google are three Fortune 500 companies that exhibit unique loyalty by their employees and have developed non-traditional methods for increasing employee motivation. They have achieved this success in part because of their ability to communicate with their employees. It is because of this communication that they are able to motivate employees through intrinsic rewards.

Creating Motivation: Analysis of Google, Starbucks, and Whole Foods


Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. By championing new and innovative methods of employee motivation, companies are satisfying this need in their employees and inspiring new levels of achievement. Three Fortune 500 Companies that excel at employee motivation and are leaders in thinking outside of the box to achieve new levels of employee commitment and success are Whole Foods, Starbucks and Google.

Each of these companies has a culture of motivation that includes using proven theories and models for motivation, but they are also pioneers in trying new techniques and proving new theories for obtaining employee inspiration and motivation.

Whole Foods Organizational Culture

Use of Traditional Motivation Models and Theories In reviewing the three companies, each company is devoted to embracing process theories in how they motivate their employees. Whole Foods and Google seem to be especially aware of the need to customize and individualize programs for motivation and extrinsic rewards.

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Google helps accomplish this individualization by allowing each engineer in the company to take one day a week to work on a project of their choice (Rodriguez).

This practice is perhaps the ultimate in individualization, not only allowing the employee to choose the project but allowing them the autonomy and independence to manage the choice and project. Starbucks on the other hand, has developed a completely customizable benefits package for employees (Starbucks). This commitment to customization and the realization that there is no true one size fits all provides a dedication to the company by employees who are unique and need unique solutions for their diverse benefits need.

These varied approaches to employee needs, speak to the expectancy theory and provide for implications of individual need while driving instrumentality and reinforcing employees’ belief that if one achieves given performance, they can expect the company to meet the expectation with unique rewards for the employee. Whole Foods also has many facets of their motivation plan that fulfill traditional theory and lead employees to work with the belief in valence and the understanding that efforts will be rewarded. Motivation and Organizational Culture

In each of these three companies, employee motivation is practically imbedded within the company’s respective cultures. Starbucks, Whole Foods, as well as Google have all been named to Fortune Magazine’s 2008 100 Best Companies to work for. Google ranked first, Starbucks seventh and Whole Foods sixteenth (Fortune). The annual ranking is derived through an extensive evaluation of company policies and culture and the opinions of the company’s own employees. Two-thirds of the total score comes from employee responses to a 57-question survey answered by 400 randomly selected employees.

Questions include attitudes toward management, job satisfaction and camaraderie. The remaining one-third of the score is based on an evaluation of each company’s demographic makeup, pay and benefits programs, and culture. Companies are scored in five areas: credibility (communication to employees), respect (opportunities and benefits), fairness (compensation, diversity), pride (philanthropy), and camaraderie (celebrations) (Whole Foods). These companies have all ranked on Fortune’s list multiple times and continuously move up the rankings.

While, the ranking is not a sole indicator of employee motivation, the motivation of company’s employees does make up a significant portion of the ranking. The culture of these companies is more stake-holder centric than that of most American companies in general. Each of these companies sees their employees as a key stakeholder and truly believes that people are their greatest assets. Whole Foods focuses on whole people and its mission is clear, “our deepest purpose as an organization is helping support the health, well-being, and healing of both people — customers, team members…” (Whole Foods).

Likewise, Google and Starbucks are people centric organizations where what is the norm in other companies is not acceptable in their company. Google Inc. puts employees first when it comes to daily life in its headquarters. Google stresses collaboration and equity in wall-less offices and spontaneous meetings. Starbucks is the hallmark of service and knowing the customer. “We always figured that putting people before products just made good common sense. So far, it’s been working out for us” (Starbucks).

This statement remains the focus of their business philosophy as well as the definition of their culture. Finding New Methods of Motivation Each of these companies has developed a reputation for re-inventing the way business is conducted in their respective industries as well as the nation as a whole. Similarly, Google, Starbucks, and Whole Foods have re-invented in ways how to motivate employees. By taking risks, trying new approaches, and truly getting to know their employees, these three companies have developed an arsenal of creative methods for motivating staff and achieving remarkable results.

According to the work of Professor James Oakley at the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, “The best tool managers have for improving employee satisfaction is communication” (Gallo). This fact is evidenced by Google, Starbucks and Whole Foods. Each company has embraced communication to not only build a more committed workforce but to also develop a motivation method that drives results. A few of the unconventional methods these companies have put in practice include focusing on the larger social issues that matter to employees.

Google, because of communication with its workforce has discovered that a majority of its employees are concerned about the environment and interested in alternative fuels. Because of this recognition of who its workforce was and what they cared about, Google now offers grants to help offset the purchase of hybrid cars by employees as one part of it’s motivational plan (Batstone). In addition, Google now allows all engineers a ‘free day’ each week to focus on a project of their choice (Rodriguez).

This ‘free day’ which was the result of communication with staff has lead to an innovation explosion at Google. This policy has not only benefited the company in exponential innovation, it has reduced burnout and led to motivated and happy engineers. Whole Foods is another example of motivation methods at work that are unconventional. Whole Foods, through its team approach allows each department to function entrepreneurially within the company framework. The company has each time ire and fire based on consensus, in part because bonuses are made collectively, at the team level.

While team bonuses are not new, Whole Foods enables all team access to information and free communication across the company (Erickson & Gratton). This access to information motivates team to find out the best practices at other markets and strive to win. In addition to information, the ability to manage your team’s success and thus your own is a great motivator at Whole Foods. Likewise, Starbucks has reinvented motivation because of how it sees its employees.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks’s Chairman and now C. E. O. has always had a vision, “not to build a coffee shop, but instead to build a company that treats people with dignity and respect” (Gallo). This is especially important for Starbucks since, the only competitive advantage it has is the relationship it has built with its people and the relationship they have built with the customer (Gallo). Starbucks has done a remarkable job of elevating the customer experience, but this was done in part because the company elevated the employee experience.

The training invested at Starbucks is not unique, except in that it instills in each team member five principles, and then makes them personal (Michelli). Principle number one at Starbucks is making it personal. This is not just a principle for employees to master; it is a principle that motivates. Employees are empowered to take ownership and make the store and the customers their own. That line that often exists in our society, where we don’t get past the superficial has been removed for Starbucks employees and they are encouraged to get to know those around them.

Social barrier removal is motivating. Conclusion and Analysis Motivation in the workplace comes down to communication and ownership. Companies like Google, Starbucks, and Whole Foods are not leading companies simply because they have a great business model or good leaders; they are leading companies because they take the time to communicate with their employees. When management communicates with employees, then they can equip and empower employees, and that leads to innovation and success. The key facet of these companies success in motivating their employees has been the communication with employees.

Financial incentives are extrinsic and short-lived. Human connection creates fulfillment and long-lasting change (Gallo). As a manager, one’s role must be to inspire your employees every day to higher levels of achievement. The key with Google, Whole Foods, and Starbucks is not that they have abandoned extrinsic rewards but rather they have found a way to re-inforce, re-charge, and re-emphasize the intrinsic rewards that the work their employees complete brings.

Employees are looking for a reason to get out of bed, show up for work, and enjoy what they are doing. While extrinsic rewards may bring some motivation it is short lived and produces only incremental results; however, intrinsic rewards create long term loyalty, motivation, and exponential results. Without communication, employees cannot obtain intrinsic rewards and employers cannot ensure that the opportunity for intrinsic rewards even exists.


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Google Employee Motivation. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Google Employee Motivation
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