Getting ‘Google-y’ over Employee Satisfaction

By Cathy Cruise

photo of Veronica Gilrane

Veronica Gilrane

While it’s known as one of the most fun and hip places in the world to work, Google is also the place where Mason alumna Veronica Gilrane, MA ’10, PhD ’13, conducts some serious business.

Gilrane has been employed as a people analyst at Google for the past year and a half. While she enjoys the company’s famous employee lounges, free gourmet meals, onsite massages, and dog-friendly offices in Mountain View, Calif., she spends her days determining what other factors make for satisfied employees.

A graduate of Mason’s nationally ranked industrial and organizational psychology program, Gilrane designs experiments and implements their findings to help ensure “Googlers” (Google employees) are happy, healthy, and productive. She conducts research and training in work-related unconscious bias—the mental shortcuts or preferences that shape our worldviews and can impact how we react to others on the job. Although the training is voluntary, Gilrane proudly notes that more than half the company has taken part in it.

She’s tasked with assessing prospective employees as well, using Google’s four criteria: general cognitive ability, role-related knowledge, leadership, and “Googliness,” which, she says, refers to “whether someone is comfortable with ambiguity, has a passion for the mission of their job, and displays humility and ownership.”

photo of Veronica Gilrane at Google

Veronica Gilrane at Google.
Photo provided.

Google’s team-oriented culture, based on innovation and collaboration, is reflected in its products, Gilrane explains. Google Hangouts, for instance, are “designed to help foster collaboration across offices and with colleagues all over the world,” she says. Even the colorful, open spaces of the Google common areas at headquarters “make it easy to work together all the time. We’re at desks, but not cubed off.”

Gilrane credits Mason as being instrumental in helping her land this job (in fact Gilrane’s advisor, psychology professor Eden King, recommended her), and giving her the vital knowledge she continues to use in her daily tasks.

“My work is very research-intensive,” she says. “I constantly find myself going back to my notes from grad school classes, especially statistics courses, because those things are still important for my job today.”