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The Google Effect

Drive Performance by Following the Leader

By John Frehse

December 12, 2017

Google does one thing, and they do it very well. It is hard to see clearly what this singular task is however as we are busy talking about their products and the great perks employees get for working there. Whether it is through Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, or any other platform they own, Google consistently does the same thing: They provide access to information in a useful format. It’s that simple. The problem is that your employees have grown accustomed to having this information. They can get answers to anything. If they need to fix something, they can watch a tutorial on YouTube. If they want to know how many kilometers are in a mile, they can Google it (the answer is 1.6, FYI). Conversely, what happens when they show up to work each day? Chances are they find themselves in the dark with little access to the relevant information necessary to enable success.

Does your company provide employees with access to information in a useful format? The answer is probably no. Whether an hourly employee or a salaried one, everyone wants to win. At the end of each day, it is not the money that drives satisfaction but one’s ability to have an impact, make a difference, and drive results. Without access to information in a useful format, employees struggle to be effective, have visibility on results, and to feel genuine satisfaction. Even when they do make a positive impact on the business, they may never know about it.

Instead of Googling information, massive data requests arrive days late, and then hours are spent using pivot tables and other processes to find the answer. By the time results are tabulated, the information is old and worth very little. Compare that to Google’s response time. Whenever and wherever you search, they not only tell you how many results were retrieved, but how long it took to get them, and it is always less than one second. I Googled “analytics” and got 683,000,000 results in .79 seconds. 683,000,000?! That is a lot of results, but algorithms make sure that the most relevant results are on the first page. Thank you, Google.

Google is training your employees to expect this kind of service on-demand and for free. These expectations are driving discontent, turnover, and disengagement in the workplace. The solution? Turn things around and instead of wondering if Google is your enemy, make it your coach.

Analytical tools are one way to enable you to win in the workplace again. Instead of crunching data in Excel for hours or days, this tool can act like Google, organizing large data sets into useful tables and charts, allowing everyone to make better decisions faster.

Remember: Google does not have it all figured out. Turnover is high (the median tenure is only 1.1 years) and, based on their size, they are not always as agile as they would like. However, they do one thing very well: They provide access to information in a useful format. It is that simple—or is it? Employee engagement can also be a financial strategy, but without the analytical technology, employees are left in the dark.


This article “The Google Effect” is an update of the September 19, 2017 article written by John Frehse for The Workforce Institute @ Kronos where Mr. Frehse serves on the advisory board for the Americas. He is also a frequent contributor to the blog of the Workforce Institute @ Kronos, a think tank that helps organizations drive performance by addressing human capital management issues that affect both hourly and salaried employees.