On Thursday morning, Fortune magazine named Google the best company to work for in America in 2012. The search giant, based in Mountain View, Calif., enjoyed 33 percent job growth in 2011 and currently employs about 18,500 employees in more than 46 countries globally. Google has 28 offices in the U.S., excluding the company's telecommunications offices.
Everything was up at Google last year -- revenue, profits, share price, paid search clicks, hiring -- and so, too, was employee love; the search giant climbed three slots in our ranking to reclaim the top spot, Fortune said. The reason? Employees rave about their mission, the culture, and the famous perks of the Plex: bocce courts, a bowling alley, eyebrow shaping (for a fee) in the New York office. Then there's the food: some 25 cafés companywide, all gratis.
One Googler added, Employees are never more than 150 feet away from a well-stocked pantry.
Other tech companies in Fortune's top companies list included NetApp (No. 6), a data storage firm based in Sunnyvale, Calif., Zappos.com (No. 11), an online clothes and accessories retailer based in Henderson, N.V., and Intuit (No. 19), a financial services platform based in Mountain View.
Despite Google's antitrust suits in the past year, the company has been enjoying a meteoric rise since the company first incorporated in 1998. Its Google Search and Mail (Gmail) applications continue to be the company's most popular products, but Google's other projects gained steam in 2011. The company's first social network, Google+, launched in June and opened to the public in September, and has been quickly gaining followers due to quality advertising on TV and on its search page.
In November, Google launched its answer to iTunes called Google Music, which lets users store their entire song libraries (up to 20,000 songs) on the Web and on Android devices, absolutely free. The pride of Google's new platform is its music store, which has an easy and intuitive way for independent artists to sell their music.
Google's various endeavors, including its secret ones, have attracted thousands of people to the ever-growing tech company. But beyond that, its employee perks are second-to-none. According to the company's corporate site, Google's headquarters, a.k.a. the Googleplex, allows employees to use bicycles or scooters, lava lamps, massage chairs, large inflatable balls, and bring in their dogs. The complex also includes volleyball courts, foosball and pool tables, video games, pianos, ping pong tables and gyms, in which Googlers can take dance or yoga classes.
Google constantly seeks out ways to make the massive company seem small to its employees. Google offers a plethora of grassroots employee groups for all sorts of interests, from film watching to wine tasting, and from meditating to salsa dancing. Each Google office attempts to break from any kind of monotony by offering local expressions of each location. For instance, you might see a mural in the Buenos Aires office, but you might see real ski gondolas hanging in its Zurich location.
The reason Google can afford these office distractions is because the company's leaders, co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, lead with equally hard-working and fun-loving attitudes, and encourage the same behaviors in their employees.
Our founders built Google around the idea that work should be challenging, and the challenge should be fun, said Larry Page in the company's corporate page on company philosophy. We believe that great, creative things are more likely to happen with the right company culture-and that doesn't just mean lava lamps and rubber balls. There is an emphasis on team achievements and pride in individual accomplishments that contribute to our overall success.
Of course, this work-then-play attitude is best exemplified through the company's famous 20 percent time program, which lets engineers spend one day a week working on projects that aren't in their job descriptions. This free time, which has worked to motivate employees to work harder on the projects they're interested in, has spawned countless Google successes such as Google News, AdSense and Gmail.
We put great stock in our employees-energetic, passionate people from diverse backgrounds with creative approaches to work, play and life, Page said. Our atmosphere may be casual, but as new ideas emerge in a café line, at a team meeting or at the gym, they are traded, tested and put into practice with dizzying speed-and they may be the launch pad for a new project destined for worldwide use.
While Google maintains a fun-loving attitude, Google tries to keep a perfectionist attitude about everything it does, which is why it continues to grow: It is never satisfied with its success.
We see being great at something as a starting point, not an endpoint, Page said. We set ourselves goals we know we can't reach yet, because we know that by stretching to meet them we can get further than we expected. Through innovation and iteration, we aim to take things that work well and improve upon them in unexpected ways... We're always looking for new places where we can make a difference. Ultimately, our constant dissatisfaction with the way things are becomes the driving force behind everything we do.
So how do you land a job with the search giant?
If you're changing the world, you're working on important things. You're excited to get up in the morning. That's the main thing. You want to be working on meaningful, impactful projects, and that's the thing there is really a shortage of in the world. I think at Google we still have that. We've always had that in spades.
For Google's job listings, visit their website here.