Guest Column | December 6, 2017

Better Culture Means Better Business For Tech Companies

By Ann Marr, Vice President, Global Human Resources, WWT

VAR consultant advisor

Given the nature of the industry, most people assume that the things that keep technology executives up at night are related to well, technology. However, in an industry known for high pay and jaw-dropping perks one of the major things keeping technology executives up at night is employee retention. According to Paysa, a company which publicizes salary data, it’s common for people working for major technology companies to spend less than two years with a company.

So how is a VAR, MSP, integrator or smaller technology company to compete with industry titans with perks like organic home-cooked meals and concierge services to run errands for employees, when competing for top talent and trying to retain them? 

The answer is surprising simple – while the perks matter they need to exist as a way to amplify and express a culture that makes employees want to work hard, come to work every day and also keep them inspired. 

Boost Engagement and Career Growth

By investing in “perks” and programs that help employees grow in their careers, as well as engage with their colleagues, companies can not only grow company culture, but keep employees engaged. Women in technology has always been a hot issue. By creating a Women’s Leadership Group to develop current and future leaders through networking and education, companies can provide opportunities for relationship building and mentorship.

Cultural awareness and diversity are also key issues in the tech industry. Creating a Cultural Awareness Program to educate employees on how to embrace and manage diversity and inclusion is a great way to promote and create cultural awareness. For companies that operate globally this can be particularly important, as their employees will need to learn cultural differences in communication, trust, coaching and having difficult conversations to effectively communicate across the globe.

Invest in Organizations Employees Care About

In addition to providing employees with the tools they need to grow and engage, it’s also important to see them as more than engineers, or sales people, or programmers. Employees have lives outside of the office, and it’s important to help them balance this, as well as take an interest in their outside interests to build a well-rounded organization.

Companies can add in this process and build culture by setting up an employee matching program for donation to charitable organizations. The goal of such a program would be to encourage employees to get involved and support charities in their community and around the globe. To create a culture of caring, companies can also create programs that provide employees an extra paid day off to spend time at their favorite charitable organizations.

Empower Wellness and Excellence in All Areas of Life

It’s no secret that happy, healthy employees are the most productive and effective. Providing them with to the tools they need to stay healthy and care for the health of their families can go a long way. Benefits such as onsite family health centers and strong medical benefits that are easily accessible and cost effective to employees and their dependents are huge perks. Other ways to promote wellness in the workplace include onsite fitness and meditation classes, as well as a company-wide wellness programs, challenges and competitions.

Health is not the only area of wellness that companies can support employees in. Providing employees with a financial wellness class can go a long way to helping employees of all ages – explaining a 401K and credit cards to a recent graduate; helping a baby boomer plan for retirement, or a family plan for an adoption are all ways that financial counseling can benefit employees. This kind of support empowers employees, no matter their salary, with the tools they need to be financially successful.

As with most large initiatives, selecting the right “perks” for employees can be a challenging and complicated decision with many factors. One of the key things to always consider is what your employees want, and delivering on them. Making sure that your employees feel they are heard and have a forum to express themselves will also be the top “perk” to most people considering staying or starting at a company.

Ann Marr, Vice President, Global Human Resources, WWTAnn Marr is Vice President of Global Human Resources at World Wide Technology, a market-leading technology solution provider based in St. Louis, Mo. In her position, Ann Marr oversees all human resources functions, which include talent management, policy development, benefits administration, training, leadership development and employee relations as well as managing the company’s supplier diversity program.  Ann has over 20 years of human resources experience and has held positions with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Anheuser-Busch Companies.  Ann is also chair of the WWT Charitable Foundation and is very active in the St. Louis community. Ann serves on the board of the St. Louis Regional Chamber Association, Maryville University Board of Trustees, St. Louis Police Foundation and the United Way of Greater St. Louis. Marr holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in human resources management from Webster University