NetApp keeps staff connected: Best Companies to Work For in Greater China 2014
Data storage solutions provider invests in the personal growth of its employees
Despite being one of the world’s largest data storage solutions providers – with tens of thousands of staff working on different technical arms – NetApp is striving to make its employees feel they belong to a bigger community in which they can affect people with the work they do.
Appearing in the Best Companies to Work For in Greater China list for the third consecutive year, the company is commended for its high-trust, egalitarian culture which empowers its staff to contribute their best to the company and the wider community.
The company, which was founded in the 1990s and is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, has 312 staff in the Greater China region.
“At NetApp, we believe in treating employees as our greatest asset,” says Adrian Chan, global vice-president and president for Greater China. “We respect employees at all levels, and we give them the tools, resources and autonomy to perform their jobs with success. We also have a collaborative and open communication environment, where everyone is expected to contribute and their input is valued. This sets the foundation for our innovation.”
The company’s open-door policy allows employees to schedule face-to-face meetings with any executive they wish to talk to, while its weekly breakfast meetings encourage employees to mingle.
Chan says that NetApp is also transparent about its direction, challenges and goals, with senior management communicating openly and frequently with employees about important events affecting the company, both negative and positive. By not shying away from informing staff of less desirable events, they build up credibility and trust.
“Open communication is a core company value that we take seriously at NetApp. During difficult economic times, we make an even greater effort to speak with employees and create opportunities for them to talk with each other and with management,” Chan says.
“Our communication style is to give employees as much information as possible so that they are better equipped to do their job and make good decisions. This is essential, particularly in the fast-changing industry we operate in.”
NetApp has a robust online community, which includes a number of blogs involving the co-founder of the company, executives, technical directors, solutions architects and system engineers, who share the latest news from their areas of expertise.
It also publishes a monthly newsletter featuring contributions from its 12,000 staff worldwide on topics such as best practices, detailed case studies, tips and engineering perspectives.
On the community front, NetApp has a voluntary time-off initiative in Greater China and globally, in which employees can volunteer up to five consecutive days a year, with full pay, during regular business hours at a local school or a non-profit organisation of their choice.
Employees with technical expertise may take additional time off to provide technical assistance to their chosen organisation.
This programme not only helps staff to visualise and experience how their professional expertise can help society, but also gives them a sense of pride. This is because they know that their company is not only excelling in business, but also contributing its valuable skills and resources to the community.
“We always put people first – whether it is our employees, clients, stakeholders, or the wider community,” Chan says. “We want to make a positive impact on society. As we live these values every day, at all levels, they form the very foundation of the company and keeps us strong as a team.
“It builds up a strong sense of unity and camaraderie as employees take pride in their work, believing that it serves a good purpose.”
To maintain a happy work environment, the company pays attention to the everyday details of its people’s lives. For example, the pantry is filled with fruit, beverages and snacks all day long to help employees recharge, relax and catch up with their colleagues. Discounted gym memberships, meanwhile, are offered to promote a healthy lifestyle despite the hectic pace of the work.
Birthdays are celebrated with monthly cake-cutting parties, while appreciation is showered on employees through formal and informal recognition programmes.
The company also offers professional counselling services to employees who feel like they need extra support to maintain their well-being.
When it comes to professional development, the company also provides in-house training and development seminars where employees can upgrade their soft and technical skills across different disciplines. This training helps to stretch employees’ perceptions of how far they can go professionally or personally through being part of the company’s success story.
“Exploring new clients and making a shift in client preferences are never easy,” Chan says. “Thanks to our dedicated staff and close collaboration across different teams, I have been impressed by how we pull together internal resources and make the right collaborative decisions to tailor-make a one-stop-shop solution that speaks to the needs of our clients.
“The egalitarian culture and environment of collaborative and open communication at NetApp makes this possible. This is what sets us apart in this competitive market.”