Like most large corporations Microsoft has a human resources department that has a large impact on the overall operation of the company. Microsoft’s HR, like most has implemented practices that are critical to the company’s success, and others that prevent the company from reaching even greater heights. An HR practice which always has been crucial to Microsoft is its recruitment style. Microsoft is only interested in the best, to the point where they prefer to leave a position vacant rather than settle for someone who just gets by.
This practice began with Microsoft’s founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who would recruit the best minds from the colleges and confirm they are the best through an interview process that relentlessly tested their pure intellect. The recruitment was not only selective, it was aggressive. When growth in the late 90’s forced Microsoft to target not only students but experienced professionals, the style was the same. The company maintained a large team of recruiting experts who identified the industry’s finest and worked relentlessly to bring them to Microsoft.
While it did not offer the highest salaries, Microsoft showered its best with stock options that turned many employees into millionaires. Recruitment of new elite talent is still a priority of all of Microsoft’s managers. Even Gates gets involved with the occasional phone call to a hot prospect. A practice which warrants a revisit is Microsoft’s n minus 1 staffing rule. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer believe in hiring fewer employees than is needed to perform the work. While the feeling is that it keeps the selection process even that much more exclusive, it is also the type of practice that can hurt the morale of employees.
Even when the company’s massive growth required them to increase staffing levels, those levels have always been set at bare minimum amounts. To compensate, employees have traditionally worked ridiculously long hours, they type of workaholic behavior that can lead employees to burnout. Microsoft understands its programmers need an environment that allows them to think and thus provides them each with an enclosed office. It seems that the thinking capacity could be extended even further with the time to rest and recharge that a traditional work schedule allows.
Not only does the possibility of burnout exist, employees may simply become disgruntled and begin to hate the company. Microsoft’s massive growth provided the company with ample economic resources, yet they staffed as if they were in dire need of reduced costs. Employees could view Microsoft as cheap, with executives who are looking to hoard profits for themselves. It stands to reason that with Microsoft’s extensive recruiting process that identifies the present and future stars of the industry, the company could add more employees while still maintaining its desired level of selectivity.
With a higher quantity of well rested, happier employees Microsoft may not have struggled to create new products in the 2000’s when their resources were being allocated to upgrade Windows and Office. Evaluated together Microsoft’s worst HR practice could leverage its best one to bring the company to even greater heights. Hire more of the talent its recruiting efforts identify and Microsoft may have even more monopolies on its resume.