Google’s Workplace, Absenteeism and Motivation


Over the last few years, Weber (2008) attests that the Google Company has witnessed a histrionic transformation. Today, the growth rate of this company is impressive. Serge Brin, together with Larry Page, founded the company in 1998 inside a California garage. Since then, the company has more than seven thousand Googlers working in Googleplexes across the world. The first product to be offered by Google was the search engine. This paper will describe the organization of the Google Company, absenteeism, motivational theories, and their application to absenteeism concerns, explore the role of organizational leadership.

Organization Structure of Google

Weber (2008) points out that since the Google founders are dynamic and young, they have put in place a managerial structure that does have any hierarchy. The company has an open policy as opposed to formal institutions. Concerning this policy, Google employees are free and encouraged to raise any concern affecting them directly or indirectly at the place of work (Girard, 2009). As noted by Hamen (2011), the firm has food corners, free food as well as numerous recreational activities such as ping-pong, assorted video games, and work out the gym for its employees. Besides, the Googlers are allowed to communicate freely within the workplace, and as such, teamwork and strong communication are entrenched in the firm’s corporate culture. Work within this company is organized in terms of projects (Weber, 2008).


Gitman and McDaniel (2008) describe absenteeism as unscheduled worker absences from a place of work. There are two distinct types of absenteeism, namely valid absenteeism as well as invalid absenteeism. Concerning valid absenteeism, it is a situation whereby a worker is absent from work for reasons that are beyond his/her power. On the other hand, invalid absenteeism entails a scenario whereby a worker is absent without being given permission for purposes that they can easily control. Some of the reasons why Google employees abscond from work include personal needs, personal illness, stress, entitlement mentality, as well as family issues.

Motivational Theories

Motivation has been pointed out as one of the reasons why there is an increased rate of absenteeism at the workplace. Steers, Mowday, and Shapiro (2004), as cited in Jex and Britt (2008), are of the opinion that motivation involves factors that play an integral role in energizing, channeling as well as maintaining individual conduct over time. Several motivational models have been developed in an attempt to elucidate why individuals are motivated. Maslow’s need hierarchy model, as enunciated by Jex and Britt (2008), explores the reasons why individuals work for their need deprivation or need satisfaction. The model suggests that individual needs can be classified into a hierarchy of relative predominance with self-actualization at the top and psychological needs at the bottom, as explained here (Lauby, 2005).

  • Physiological needs: refers to the fundamental requirements needed for the process of body maintenance such as sex, thirst as well as hunger. Although physiological needs are predominant of all, they are necessary and not dependent on each other.
  • Safety needs-They refers to such needs as economic security, desire for orderly life as well as freedom from physical harm.
  • Social needs: The needs emerge after safety needs, as well as after the requirements that are physiological are fulfilled, and social needs refer to the need for belongingness, affection, and love.
  • Esteem needs: These needs can be grouped into two categories. The first category consists of the need for adequacy, attainment as well as the need for strength. The second category includes the need for reputation, appreciation, and recognition.
  • Need for Self-actualization: These needs emerge after all other requirements have been fully satisfied. The need for self-actualization is stipulated as the need to become what an individual is capable of becoming, and it is the highest need in Maslow’s Hierarchy (King, 2009).
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Source: Lauby (2005, p.2).
Figure 1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Source: Lauby (2005, p.2).

Other motivational theories include Goal-Setting Theory that affirms that human conduct is encouraged and controlled by aspirations and objectives and Expectancy Theory that argues that workers are likely to put more effort into a given task if there is the expectation of succeeding when they try (Jex & Britt, 2008).

Application of Motivation Models in Absenteeism

There are several ways organizational managers can apply motivational models to boost the morale of employees. One way is through job enlargement. Google managers can expand a given job horizontally such that there is an increased number of numerous activities that can be performed by an employee. This will, in turn, increase the employee’s job satisfaction, especially when the task is repetitive and mundane (Gitman & McDaniel, 2008). In a study conducted by Raza and Nawaz (2011) to examine the role of job enlargement in increasing employee job satisfaction, it was revealed that job enlargement improved employee job satisfaction as well as morale (Noonan & Glass, 2012).

Role of Organizational Leadership in Absenteeism

Northouse (2007) defines leadership as a course of action by which a person sways a section of people to attain a collective objective. Toor and Ofori (2009) think that workers are the most significant resources in an organization. Without workers, the objectives and goals of the organizations can never be realized. To this effect, it is, therefore, the responsibility of organizational leaders to find ways of dealing with cases of absenteeism. Motivation is one of the reasons why employees abscond from work, and as such, it is critical that organizational managers establish strategies that will improve the morale of employees.

Rewards are a critical tool utilized by firm managers in motivating their employees and militating against absenteeism. They may be based on skill acquisition, competence, performance, as well as the achieved results. According to Beel (2007), rewards improve quality, boost morale, motivate employees, enhance job satisfaction, increases teamwork while encouraging behavior that contributes to organizational objectives.

The role of Influence and Power in Absenteeism

Maxwell (1998) points out that that the accurate assessment of leadership is via influence and power. Influence is critical in leading others. Various studies have indicated that organizational managers who exercise power and influence are likely to deal effectively with cases of absenteeism (Bello, 2012). These organizational managers can discipline any employee who absentee himself/herself without permission, as well as ensuring that employees are committed to their work (Culbertson, 2009).


It is evident in the paper that absenteeism is a significant concern in the workplace. Some of the reasons articulated in this paper as to why Google employees absented themselves from work include personal needs, personal illness, stress, entitlement mentality, as well as family issues. Maslow’s need hierarchy model, as discussed in this paper, explores the reasons why individuals work for their need deprivation or need satisfaction. Self-actualization is at the top of the hierarchy, while psychological needs are at the top of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.


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