In a recent feature, the magazine Fast Company names 50 companies as The World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2013, as well as top 10 picks per various industry segments. It’s always an interesting list of case histories of new and emerging ideas and well-worth perusing. By way of preview, here’s this year’s pick for the Top 10, a mix of both online and offline innovation: 1) Nike; 2) Amazon 3) Square 4) Splunk 5) Fab 6) Uber 7) Sproxil 8) Pinterest 9) Safaricom and 10) Target.

Also noteworthy is their look back at last year’s crop of Innovative Companies to see how the big ideas they were featured for actually panned out in 2012, and how their prospects look for 2013 and beyond.
Among the selection of interesting articles in this focus on innovation, the one that caught our eye and the one likely of most interest to most readers of this blog, was a story by Mark Crowley, Not A Happy Accident: How Google Deliberately Designs Workplace Satisfaction. He runs through the many ways that Google has had an impact on human life in such a short period of time – less than 15 years – but notes that perhaps its single greatest achievement is in its people:

“But in Google’s short lifespan, it has also grown from a two-man startup to an organization with nearly 37,000 employees in 40 different countries. This notable and relentless workforce expansion begs the very important question: How have they successfully managed and integrated all these new people while concurrently motivating them to be consistently loyal, ambitious, innovative, and productive?”

He notes that much attention is given to their “seemingly over-the-top perks” like bowling alleys and pets at work, it’s easy to to attribute their people innovation and success to these perks, but in reality, things go much deeper than a handful of creative benefits:

“Upending traditional leadership theory, which directs organizations to squeeze as much out of people while paying them as little as possible, Google holds an authentic reverence for its employees and seeks to not just appeal to their uber-developed minds in motivating performance, but also to their very human hearts.”

After a visit to the company, he offers his highlights of what he learned, and expounds on each of these four key points:

  • Being a great place to work is in Google’s DNA
  • Google ensures people have inspiring work
  • Employees have uncommon freedom and control of their time
  • Google is a democracy and employees are given a significant voice

For more case histories of HR innovation, see Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For – Google has topped this list for four years running. And related, worth noting:  11 top perks from Best Companies.

Want to ensure a winning team in your organization? In addition to help for your employees, ESI EAP offers a full suite of tools for supervisors and managers, including our ESI Management Academy. Trainings cover compliance issues, management skills and more. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.


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