Responding to staff needs makes Mircosoft UK employer of choice

To make a company an employer of choice, businesses have to look after staff
on emotional, intellectual and technological levels, according to the head of
HR at Microsoft.

Kay Winsper, speaking at the Society of Personnel Officers in Government
Services (Socpo) conference, said this support was the key to making Microsoft
one of the world’s most popular companies to work for.

She believes Microsoft has reaped huge rewards from allowing people to work
flexibly and by creating an office environment that breeds creativity.

The company, based in Reading, splits its budget equally between people,
marketing and infrastructure.

Staff perks at Microsoft include free fruit and bottled water, air that is
recycled eight times a day, and a lake where they can take a stroll to recharge
their batteries.

Every employee’s house is wired up to receive broadband transmissions so
staff can work from home, and they can also take advantage of private banking
and a health service on site.

"This is not pampering, it is creating an environment to get people
productive," Winsper said. "It also helps attract and retain talent
through a compelling environment."

She added that Microsoft, which receives 1,200 job applications a month,
"hardly even monitors sickness and absence anymore".

To ensure the company communicates effectively with staff, HR, not
marketing, now handles internal communications.

The HR department, known as the Great Company and Governance department,
created ‘u-mail’ – a service that sends weekly e-updates to workers, telling
them what is happening in the company in the coming weeks.

Winsper said the aim of the service was to ensure every employee can quickly
and concisely update colleagues and friends on the development of the company.

To make sure management knows exactly what is going on, every member of
staff has a one-hour one-to-one meeting with their managers.

Winsper said the time spent is a small price to pay for knowing what is
going on in the workplace.

By Michael Millar

Quotes from the confernce

Alan Warner Socpo president

"HR can choose between being great leaders or gophers."

Gary Younge The Guardian’s New York correspondent

"People are mistaking and miss-selling diversity as a principle and not
a business strategy. If diversity is to be of any use then it has to be about
equal opportunities, not photo opportunities."

Baroness Susan Greenfield Professor of pharmacology, Oxford University

"The most important part of work is status. We have to realise that
[potential] is not all in our genes – the working environment may override it.
Nurture can trump nature."

Kay Winsper Head of HR Microsoft UK, talking about giving all new technology
to employees first:

"At Microsoft, we are eating our own dogfood to make the company a
living case study we can enjoy, and communicate to our customers from
first-hand experience."

Richard Olivier, Mythodrama Associates

"You must align head and heart to keep fighting against the odds.
Leaders must show people they are not afraid and create the power of the
empowered few."


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