Microsoft demands passion for technology

Steve Harvey, Microsoft UK's director of people and culture, tells Ross Bentley how the software giant has built a reputation as...

Steve Harvey, Microsoft UK's director of people and culture, tells Ross Bentley how the software giant has built a reputation as an employer of choice in the IT industry

Microsoft has a reputation for being an employer of choice. What effect does this have on staff morale?

"The IT market is going through a tough time, we have striven at Microsoft to be the employer of choice in the IT sector, and recent recognition has measured us as such. Our employees feel extremely proud of our reputation as a top place to work because they all play their part in delivering our people vision of creating an environment where great people can do their best work. It is fantastic that more than 90% of our people love coming to work every day."

Does Microsoft's reputation make it easier to attract the best employees?

"Attracting the very top people is as hard in the IT sector as it has ever been. Obviously, if you are known as somewhere that is a great place to work then it definitely goes in your favour. Five years ago that was not the case for Microsoft and we have worked hard to change that. To put this in perspective, we had more than 10,500 applications for posts in the UK in the first eight months of the last fiscal year - 7,500 of these direct via the web. Of these direct applicants we only hired 13 people, which shows how hard it is."

Where does Microsoft's corporate culture come from?

"The culture comes from the core values of the company. We expect all of our employees to have a real passion for technology as well as a drive for results and a love of life. We hire for this every day - that is what keeps our culture alive."

Do you think companies outside the IT sector value IT workers?

"Many non-IT companies visit Microsoft to see how we use technology and how our culture has developed. Great IT people play a significant role in creating the culture we have, as they deploy technology in a way that allows our people to get on and do what they do best every day. There is definitely a critical role for IT employees to play in helping other companies to achieve the same."

What are the benefits of being a Microsoft employee?

"Microsoft employees receive all the normal benefits you would expect: company cars, life assurance, gym membership, permanent health insurance, private health cover, discounted share purchase and personal pensions to name a few. On top of the normal benefits, we also give critical illness cover, free fresh fruit every day, a wellbeing centre, and most recently a childcare centre and access to private bankers based on site."

Microsoft UK

Microsoft's UK subsidiary was formed in 1982 and currently employs more than 1,500 people. Its headquarters is at Thames Valley Park in Reading. Its main functions are service, support, and sales and marketing for Microsoft customers and partners across the UK. The company also has satellite offices in Edinburgh, Manchester, Dublin and a UK-specific web portal company based in Soho, London.

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