By Geoff Dowell, Rackspace
“Engaged employees produce improved business results compared to less engaged employees” – intuitively obvious and now empirically proven according to the MacLeod Review, a government sponsored research report. At Rackspace we followed our intuitive beliefs from the start and put engagement with our employees (known as Rackers) at the heart of our competitive advantage.
A winning team
In the highly competitive world of IT services our complete focus has been on driving Racker engagement to produce loyal customers, which has resulted in Rackspace moving from a garage start-up in 1998 to a global company with a market capitalisation today of around $7bn. In the commodity-driven world of IT hosting, Rackspace’s positioning and differentiation revolves around providing excellent customer service or ‘Fanatical Support’ as we call it. Our Rackers glory in creating highly engaged teams who enjoy competing against each other. Graham Weston, our president and founder, sums it up: “What we all want is to be a valued member of a winning team on an inspiring mission.”
Engagement and empowerment
While we focus on achieving the financials, our key internal metrics measure Racker engagement (Racker- Pulse) and customer engagement (Net Promoter Score or NPS). The Racker-Pulse survey is conducted bi-annually and the results are analysed by teams, departments and globally. Managers are held to account for their team’s engagement and are encouraged to discuss any issues in an open forum. Team actions are agreed in concert, while individual concerns or career plans are addressed in one-to-ones. The Racker voice is loud and strong. Our culture is founded on our corporate values: Fanatical Support, Friends and Family, Results First, Passion for Our Work, Full Disclosure and Transparency, and Committed to Greatness. Internal awards are based on these values and the top individual award of ‘Fanatic of the Month’ is based on a clear demonstration of one or more of these values – they form the foundation of individual and team engagement.
In addition to our engagement metrics and culture reinforcement, we have a series of programmes to strengthen our core engagement. They start with new Rackers, known as Rookies. All are subjected to a one week ‘Rookie-O’ indoctrination and those who present to them are all fellow Rackers. Presentations are scored by the Rookies, who are split into teams to compete for prizes – Natural-born Racker (you can’t send a duck to eagle school) and the Leading Light trophy. Our can-do attitude is instilled at the beginning and Rookies look forward to working in an enlightened company that puts employee engagement and empowerment at its heart.
Rackers decide which local charity we support and which charitable events to enter, how/where to spend our monthly fun budget, how to create an interior building design to maximise involvement, what equipment goes into our in-house gym and loads more. At ‘Open Book’, Rackers are treated to the latest financials, Rookies introduce themselves with songs, jokes or a dance; leadership details the latest successes and challenges; and the ‘Fanatic of the Month’ is announced. At Rackspace University training is geared to get the best out of Rackers and focuses on their strengths. Our internal recruiting team devise special questions to uncover personality and attitude. Training and development is ongoing and rigorous.
Has it worked?
Our employee engagement score exceeds 65% and our NPS exceeds 60%. Over the past five years we have grown by 30% per annum. We have been ranked among the top ‘best companies to work for’ by independent assessors. And above all, we have created a truly great place to work while exceeding our stakeholders’ expectations.
This article was originally published in the autumn 2013 edition of Enterprise, a Smith & Williamson publication.
By necessity this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Article correct at time of writing.
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