Developing a flexible future

With just over 128 000 employees worldwide, approximately 300 of whom are in South Africa, Microsoft takes great pride in being an organisation that is committed to its people. In fact, the technology behemoth who posted net revenues of $86.83-billion for the year ending June 30, says it aims to create an organisation made up of people who realise their full potential and who are motivated to perform beyond just their usual duties.

The thinking behind this is that if employees are being developed and grown, it creates a win-win situation for both the individual and the company.

Locally, Microsoft pins its human resources strategy around four pillars: leadership, talent, culture and management.

In terms of leadership, it strives to build a diverse group of people who have the vision, ability and adaptability to lead from the front. This leads to the second pillar of talent that is designed to build its capabilities for the connected world of today and ensures the organisation is ready to capitalise on any market opportunities. Of course, culture forms an integral part of any organisation. For Microsoft, this means building an engaged and inclusive workforce who are proud to work at the company. The final pillar of management is designed to improve the leadership capabilities inside the company and provide accountability for developing the best managers.

Of course, it is one thing to have a great human resources strategy but quite another to implement it.

Microsoft has an individual development plan for each employee that is regularly discussed with the management. This is designed to ensure all employees reach their full potential at the company. Annual assessments are conducted with the company following a career-building model that gives employees a set of tools that helps them to determine and develop their own abilities.

There are regular business training initiatives and other special training programmes across consulting, sales, and management. Being Microsoft, employees have the opportunity to work and train using its latest products and technologies, providing them with certified Microsoft expertise in their fields of interest.

Being in the technology sector, Microsoft is not blind to the fact that companies often find good people, train them, and then lose them to competitors. South Africa is no different than any other part of the world. To curb this, the company takes a straight approach. It believes in identifying those people   fit culturally in the organisation and then doing whatever it takes to retain them.

But this means more than just giving them competitive salaries. Microsoft feels that people want to see a meaningful investment in their career development and believes in a culture that enables the best people to do the best work. Being part of a multi-national organisation that is one of the leaders in its field also helps.

As a result of its extensive footprint, Microsoft has a diverse culture that promotes critical thinking and performance excellence in its employees. The work environment is also conducive to getting the most out of its people.

Flexibility is at the core of the environment at Microsoft. Employees are encouraged to work from home or outside the office. There are no fixed hours - the company focuses on what employees achieve instead of how long they spend at a cubicle. In addition to the cafeteria which doubles as a social hub of the company, it also has a fully-equipped gym on the premises for employees to work off some steam.

And as its technology and the world around it evolves, Microsoft is also continuously looking for ways to improve its human resources practices. Given the expectations around its solutions and the way the world has embraced technology, it has a great platform for employee growth well into the future.

This article is part of a larger supplement which can be found here

The supplement has been made possible by the Mail & Guardian’s advertisers and the content has been vetted by the Top Employers Institute.