Personal attention helps keep staff on track

At software development company Data Connection, one of the Best Places to Work in IT 2005 award winners, IT support staff as well as product developers are intensively trained. "Because we support new software and new technology we must be that much more on the ball," said head of IT Jethro Eastwood.

At software development company Data Connection, one of the Best Places to Work in IT 2005 award winners, IT support staff as well as product developers are intensively trained. "Because we support new software and new technology we must be that much more on the ball," said head of IT Jethro Eastwood.

Each member of his department has an individual development programme.

"Everyone sits with their manager once every three months, and discusses their training over the previous three months," said Eastwood. "They decide how to take it forward, and what actions will be needed over the next three months towards that goal. A new starter will get more training, but training is on-going during their time here.

"We use a combination of different training techniques, from hands-on with mentors and self-study to sending people on external courses and running in-house courses on topics such as communications.

"For the in-house courses everyone who applies goes on them. With new technology such as a new e-mail system, typically one person is trained as the in-house expert and then trains up the rest of the team."

So far as contributing to being a best place to work, Eastwood is clear about the value of training.

"It is very important for lots of reasons," he said. "It keeps staff interested in new technology and in developing themselves, and becoming capable of always doing more, both for their own sakes and for the company. They are always progressing and never stagnating."

Nor does Eastwood need to worry that staff may exploit the investment made in their training by taking their new skills elsewhere.

The traditional division between employer and employee, which can potentially lead to divided loyalties and possible conflicts of interest between the business and its staff, are completely absent. The corporate structure of Data Connection is such that it is owned by a trust that is owned by all staff.

Eastwood said, "Profit sharing can amount to quite a serious percentage of salary - everyone is guaranteed 7.5% and it is usually substantially more, particularly for key contributors.

"Because we invest a lot in our people, and because Data Connection shares out its profits to all staff, there is no problem. Once people come here they stay."

Take your place at awards ceremony

The Best Places to Work in IT 2006 awards shortlist will be revealed in Computer Weekly in January. The winners will be announced at an awards lunch at the Park Lane Hotel, London on 1 March, at which the government CIO Ian Watmore will be the keynote speaker.

The Best Places to Work in IT awards offer an opportunity for IT professionals to celebrate the industry's best employers while networking with their peers. To book your table, e-mail:

'sharon.hart@rbi.co.uk

'020-8652 8036

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