Google’s 100 year study of employee happiness

From the Harvard Business Review:

This isn’t your typical employee survey. Since we know that the way each employee experiences work is determined by innate characteristics (nature) and his or her surroundings (nurture), the gDNA survey collects information about both. Here’s how it works: a randomly selected and representative group of over 4,000 Googlers completes two in-depth surveys each year. The survey itself is built on scientifically validated questions and measurement scales. We ask about traits that are static, like personality; characteristics that change, like attitudes about culture, work projects, and co-workers; and how Googlers fit into the web of relationships around all of us. We then consider how all these factors interact, as well as with biographical characteristics like tenure, role and performance. Critically, participation is optional and confidential.

What do we hope to learn? In the short-term, how to improve wellbeing, how to cultivate better leaders, how to keep Googlers engaged for longer periods of time, how happiness impacts work and how work impacts happiness.

Interesting. There’s potential to help fine-tune work environments to make employees happier and, presumably, more productive. There’s a big brother aspect to this. Hopefully, the “Don’t be evil” motto is still in effect at Google.



  • Moeskido

    That potential is dependent upon a few things. How diverse is Google’s workforce in as simple a factor as age? How many people who work there are old enough to have worked during a decade before insurance companies and HR departments concocted mandatory ethics tests? How many of them have any experience of a workplace “culture” outside of Google?

    In short, is Google management attempting to fill in the many socialization gaps left by a declining public education system, or is it merely trying to reinforce its own culture inside the company’s bubble?

  • http://tewha.net/ Steven Fisher

    There’s a wide difference between “don’t be evil” and “don’t do evil.”

  • yummyyummyfly

    If it’s “optional,” how can it be “representative?”

    People who refuse to participate in such a survey have a materially different personality than those who don’t refuse, no?

    • Moeskido

      “Optional” can mean many things when group managers are urged to get higher response numbers.