11 bad things about working at Google (according to staff)

Employees at the tech giant have taken to Quora to complain about their jobs.

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 08 Nov 2013

It seems omnipresent Astro Turf, ubiquitous beach balls, deck chairs and free food will only get you so far when it comes to keeping your employees happy. Google, one of the world's most sought after employers has had a knife well and truly stuck in by its staff, who have vented their work-related frustrations through the question and answer site Quora.

Here are our top eleven Google employee gripes as taken from the online thread (in no particular order):

1. Everyone is overqualified


'The worst part of working at Google, for many people, is that they're overqualified for their job. Google has a very high hiring bar due to the strength of the brand name, the pay & perks, and the very positive work culture. As a result, they have their pick of bright candidates, even for the most low-level roles.'

2. And because everyone is overqualified its hard to get promoted

'It's hard to get promoted quickly, since the person [sic] above you as well as at your level both have great educations and strong work ethics. When it's standard to be awesome, and the work isn't particularly tough to begin with, it's hard to differentiate.'

3. It's hard to make a difference

'I worked at Google for three years and it was very difficult to leave but there was one major factor that helped me make the decision - the impact I could have on the business as an individual was minimal.'

4. It's all a bit too cool

'Everyone at Google wanted to be cool. Delivering quickly and effectively was not on anyone's agenda. In other words, the engineers were pampered and customers were not taken sufficiently seriously.'

5. Too much fun (who knew!)

'There was no discipline in the offices. People chatted about random things on the emailing lists, often insulting each other. I once emailed a very big team asking a genuine question (as an external customer of their product). The response was sarcastic. If you try to do that at a company like Amazon, you will be immediately reprimanded (or so I think).'

6. Arrogance is all pervasive

'I think the average level of Google engineers is mediocre. With a lot of arrogance, too. Everybody believes he (males dominate) is better than his neighbor. So it is really hard to discuss any issue unless it is your friend you are talking to. Objective discussions are pretty rare, since everybody's territorial, and not interested in opinions of other people unless those people are Important Gods.'

7. Middle management is substandard

'I'd say the relentless daily mediocre thinking of middle management types who are completely focused on metrics to the exclusion of all other factors. They don't want to rock the boat, they don't know how to inspire their workforce, and they rely far too much on the Google name and reputation to do that for them.'

8. Politics reigns supreme

'Promotions to the senior levels of engineering are still based on politics.  Unlike many other companies, you need make favorable impressions with other, more senior engineers -- whose peer feedback is weighted most heavily at promotion time -- rather than managers.  Good luck getting promoted to a senior level if you work at an acquired startup with few connections to the the rest of Google engineering.'

9. Product and design gets neglected

'There is not enough focus on product and visual design. This has led to many aborted/semi-successful products, like Wave, Google Video, Buzz, Dodgeball, Orkut, Knol, and Friend Connect.  There is probably too much focus on pure engineering.'

10. It's pretty slow

'The product release cycle is sluggish at best, and though teams may work and feel like startups, I found that you can often end up with the bad (long hours, gruelling work) without the good (agile development, rapid iteration).'

11. Sycophancy is essential

'The worst part of working for Google is the people. In order to get in to work at Google you have to be the kind of person who "whoops" when your CEO comes in the conference room. And screams with excitement when they announce "We've introduced...searching by pictures!!!" as a new product. You need to think it's cool to be a "Newgler". Yes, the old guard in Google like to call themselves Googlers, and when you first join you are a "New Googler" or "Newgler" as they like to call you. And they think this is cool when they tell you that...'

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