Hiring for IT is an art form. In this day in age, it takes much more than being able to adhere to the burndown list of required skills to really be successful. But, how do you ensure that they stay? And, what really influences whether an employee stays or goes?
It has more to do with culture than salaries or benefits. And, office culture is more than just a free meals or a variety of snacks — it’s about how employees are treated, and whether or not you’ve created a people-centric workplace.
The Benefits of Being People-Centric
Being people-centric is exactly how it sounds: Your business is all about the people you’ve hired. In fact, it’s what Pete McGarahan of First American Title told us they call the “people business.”
“We’re in the people business,” said McGarahan, Senior Director of IT Infrastructure. “Treating people with respect and getting people motivated to do the job was something that we wanted to put at a high priority, so we created our people plan. We accentuated the culture to be all about the people.”
Making their employees a priority not only boosted morale, but was also directly reflected in how they interacted with customers. A happy employee leads to happy customers, because they feel driven to give their best. After implementing their people plan, customer service scores rocketed up to 4.9 out of 5. And, companies that foster these types of motivation within the workforce also consistently outperform competition.
Losing employees due to a bad work culture is costly. Inc. magazine reports that the total cost of hiring new employees (taking into account such things as training, recruiters, knowledge lost, etc.) can total almost 150 percent of an average annual salary. In short, high employee turnover is bad for business, and will only hurt an organization’s reputation. And, word of mouth can be damaging (try getting the best talent when your ex-employees are sharing horror stories).
How do you get started making your business people-centric?
1. Start with a Dream, and Lead by Example
McGarahan said that they started building their people business through a clear idea of what they wanted. Culture needs to align with business objectives — but that’s hard to do if you haven’t defined it outright.
“Have a service strategy,” he said. “You need to be able to know where you want to go, and articulate that to management and to your team to build a roadmap.”
Once you have your objectives outlined, lead by example. Leadership has a major impact on the way culture is formed within the organization. Ensure everyone is on board with creating a workforce of motivated, driven individuals, and have each leadership decision be made in support of the culture.
2. Create a Culture of Retainment
The idea of “culture” is tricky. There’s no workflow that you can assign to it (unfortunately), so culture within a workplace will often happen on its own organically through employee interaction. Therefore, the people you hire and retain will have the longest impact — another reason you should strive to keep the best employees around. But keeping them around has almost nothing to do with money.
Yes, profits are needed to make sure the lights are on. But, let’s face it, who really feels accomplished and inspired by knowing that their work just helped their boss buy a Tesla? Do you feel driven to do your best by attending quarterly sales meetings and numbers on what the ROI should be?
The best employees “all have a far more pronounced sense of purpose than their average counterparts.” This means that employees who worked in an environment that was more about “just selling stuff” were better at their job — i.e., happier, more motivated, and willing to stay for the long haul. And the longer an employee works at a company, the more invested they feel, and the more they’ll want to work toward greater objectives.
3. Hold Employees Accountable
McGarahan knew that their employee satisfaction had a direct impact on their customer satisfaction score. As a team they built accountability into their platform for both customer ratings as well as other KPIs that help individuals gauge their success. As a result, they fostered a work environment that motivated everyone to do their best, and made it clear that they all worked as a team through consistent feedback and communication. Their successful, people-centric work environment became self-fulfilling with numbers to reinforce good behavior.
“When our customers are not happy, they just click a button and that automatically sends a notification to the management team, who then follows up with them to recover the service,” McGarahan said. “We also implemented SLAs around incident and service requests, and we managed them daily. We’re at about an 85-95 percent SLA adherence — all because we got together and decided we were going to do this as a team.”
Power to the People
If creating a people-centric workforce that still demands excellence, thereby weeding out the bad employees, sounds like an impossibility, it’s not. Being people-centric doesn’t mean that you should invest in each and every employee that walks in your door — sometimes people interview well only to bring less than stellar performance. So think of a “work culture” as a scientific-type culture: Your office is a petri dish of different personalities, backgrounds, and expertise. Through careful monitoring and boundaries, you can grow it into exactly what you need to keep your best employees.