This entry was shortlisted for the 2012 Peer Award “Talent/Leadership” category
Creating a big GREAT company, not a great BIG one
Rackspace Hosting is a company on the move, with a growth rate is 35% year-on-year. However, we’re not planning on becoming a great BIG company. Rather, we want to retain our wacky cultural elements that make us a big GREAT company to work for. What sets us apart from our competitors is our fanatical customer service and our commitment to greatness. Our Rackers (employees) work hard at providing this service, not because we lead the industry in pay, but because we offer an engaging workplace that allows them to play hard and which is infused with our core values.
We think our focus on fanatical support and our other values is the magic ingredient. We are the industry leader in managed hosting (source: Garner’s Magic Quadrant). Our measure of customer satisfaction (Net Promoter Score, or NPS) is some 40% higher than the average of our competitors. Our culture has also been recognised externally year-on-year by Great Places to Work and Best Companies, amongst others. We have customers visit us to learn about our employee engagement practices. Our employee turnover is also considerably lower than the industry average (13% vs 20%). We’re doing something right!
Walk our floors and you may espy super heroes in drag (for charity) or need to take refuge from a sponge-dart gun battle. Arrive on the 1st of each month, and you’ll be treated with cake in honour of that month’s birthday girls and boys. Coming on pay day? Wear your sunglasses or the glare from the multitude of Hawaiian shirts may stun you. Attend an ‘Open Book’ session and hear our executives discuss our finances, warts and all. The common thread is each activity is aligned to our values, and many of them are fun!
Growing so rapidly, we struggle at times to retain our unique culture. We adore the ‘wacky,’ but we now realise it’s not all just about ‘fun’ – we must also listen to Rackers and help them grow in their roles. We’ve learned that not all aspects of our culture are sacred, some of it is just ‘noise,’ and those elements worth keeping are values-driven (e.g., Open Book and ‘transparency’). Further, we now appreciate that our culture must evolve, but we’re pointing it in the right direction by defining values-based behaviours upon which we can build new cultural elements.
Any organisation that believes happy customers are created by engaged staff can do what we do. Our magical ingredient is not so much in what we do, but why we do it. Our company culture is based on the belief that greatness cannot be demanded of employees; it must be volunteered. Rackers freely offer their commitment and effort because we have clear values that they see in practice every day, plus we give them the opportunity to grow in their jobs. We also allow them free reign to play hard in return for working hard.
James Mitchell, Director of Talent & Development International