Career Advice HR Focus

Microsoft masters balancing act

Many enterprises are working hard to create a fun and enjoyable working environment for their employees. But it’s never been easy to strike a balance between business and people development – the top priority for a company’s human resources people.

Recently, Microsoft was ranked first as a “Great Place to Work®” in the “World’s Best Multinational Workplaces List”. Locally, we won two accolades – the “Distinguished Family-Friendly Employer Award” and the “Award for Innovation” under the “Family-Friendly Employers Award Scheme 2011” – in recognition of our work in creating an excellent work environment.

It has always been a high priority for us to invest in our people. They are our greatest asset. Microsoft is a great place to work not only because of what we do, but because of the quality of the company culture and environment in which our people can develop and flourish. Our company remains open and respectful towards our people, and we cultivate among them a passion for bettering lives by simplifying technology and giving them enough freedom to unleash their potential.

To help employees to strike a good work-life balance, we have put in place a number of innovative family-friendly policies and practices. We place high trust in our employees and adopt a flexible work mode, enabling them to work at times and locations in a flexible manner to suit the needs of work and family. Microsoft does not require employees to adhere to a formal monitoring system to keep track of their attendance.

With the help of the latest technological tools available to them, employees can enhance their work efficiency and productivity while meeting the needs of their families.

They can choose to work outside the office and make use of IT tools provided by the company – notebooks, smartphones, virtual private networks and mobile broadband connections – to stay connected with colleagues, clients and work associates.

Instead of face-to-face meetings, they can use the Microsoft Lync solution for online presence, instant messaging, video and audio conferencing, desktop sharing and telephony to achieve the same level of contact and work efficiency, therefore reducing air travel and local commuting time.

Our employees can also apply for extra leave, in addition to their annual leave entitlement, to cope with personal situations and ad hoc family needs, such as marriage, flexible maternity or
paternity leave, and compassionate leave.

And since 2005, they can enjoy an additional day off when a statutory holiday coincides with a Saturday. Microsoft is among the very few companies in Hong Kong with this policy in place.

In addition, employees are given three days of volunteering leave per year for volunteer work. This volunteering leave encourages them to give back to society, together with their family members, and support Microsoft’s commitment to local communities as a responsible corporate citizen.

Apart from work-life balance, Microsoft prioritises internal staff for job vacancies and relocation to different time zones in cases where employees need to transfer to another country.

Within the office environment, we also provide free fruit, healthy drinks and snacks for a balanced and healthy diet, videogame rooms, and a separate well-being room with massage chairs. We also offer monetary and resource support to a variety of interest groups or clubs that are voluntarily formed by company staff members.

Feedback from our employees has been very positive towards these initiatives. Our staff feel that we care for their well-being and are sensitive to their family needs, and in this way, we can better retain talent and increase staff loyalty.

Unsurprisingly, industry surveys indicate that the turnover rate at Microsoft was lower than the IT industry average in 2010.