– Company and Culture
"Creative solutions to retain valuable talent."
How IT consulting can retain talent
IT Consultants represent a company's services and products like no one else. And they fuel the company value one-on-one: experts embedded with clients. These personalities play an often-underestimated role in many companies, although they are always in direct dialog with customers and partners. Sven Schlünzen, one of the three Managing Directors responsible for IKOR's corporate development, and Kirsten Weidemann, HR Team Lead at IKOR, are well aware of this. In this interview, they explain why it is essential to give employees a sense of purpose and to nurture and develop each individual personality.
– Fast Lane
In this article you will learn:
Increasingly, more companies have to search out scarce talent rather than wait for applicants, technology firms in particular are warning how expensive IT expert turnover can be for them. Do you see this change as a significant challenge?
Sven Schlünzen: It's true, workforce fluctuation is expensive. On the one hand….
Kirsten Weidemann: Nevertheless, turnover cannot be glossed over. It is very pronounced in our industry, even in the core target group of our employees. The mentality has long since moved away from "I'll stay until I retire." That's not realistic, although as an HR manager I would like to see that.
And on the other hand?
Schlünzen: On the other hand, in recent years IKOR has achieved an annual average turnover of between five and seven percent - quite a healthy "throughput", because this means you are always importing new impetus and momentum into the company. Nevertheless, turnover has also increased in our company. We have to work harder to mitigate it and become more successful retaining employees.
What measures do you take against too much employee turnover?
Weidemann: We try to retain talented individuals as long as possible. We accommodate them in certain aspects of their work schedule - for example, one of our department heads also works part-time as the Treasurer for the German Football Association DFB. We have also found a solution for the Managing Director of our subsidiary IKOR Products, which allows him to take parental leave despite his current management role.
And beyond the C-level Executives and middle management?
Weidemann: We entertain part-time options for all our employees, so that we can give colleagues time off to care for relatives or to raise children. Or simply because some people want more free time. We find creative solutions to motivate, strengthen and retain our valuable talents.
is Team Lead HR at IKOR
"We entertain part-time options for all our employees, so that we can give colleagues time off to care for relatives, to raise children. Or simply because some people want more free time."
What other measures are useful to ensure that turnover is moderate?
Schlünzen: Because of our culture, many people enjoy working for us. We see ourselves as pilots who help customers maneuver safely and efficiently through difficult waters. Our self-image "We never work alone on a project, but together" and "We are a team" are deeply rooted and provide cohesion for our docks, crews and cargoes as well as the company as a whole. "Being there for each other" provides meaning. Additionally, we protect the world from bad advice - that too is meaningful. Our customer focus and results give our employees a sense of value and accomplishment, powerful motivators in employee retention.
Are there also downsides?
Hatching: Depending on your perspective: Organizations can and should always improve to make their why more tangible. Therefore, continuous improvement is ongoing. Many IKORians state that it is unique to work here: I can stay who I am and show what I can do and prosper within my framework.
How do you and your two Co-Managing Directors lead on this premise, Sven?
Schlünzen: We lead, but not with a hard hand. No one is breathing down your neck or throwing darts. Every IKORian can contribute ideas. As a management team, we conscientiously deal with each idea, often intensively. IKOR is a great place for "game kids" who demonstrate the required seriousness for business. Nevertheless, our customers tell us that they can tell "who is from IKOR" by our way of working, acting and being. For us, such feedback creates a sense of belonging: people are proud to work here.
As IKOR‘s managing director, he is responsible for strategy development.
„Productivity enhancements through our solutions provides relief and helps make people happier.“
What role do competitive salaries and other benefits play?
Schlünzen: No one will come to you without marketable salaries. However, we find time and again that salary alone does not make you compelling: We therefore operate in attractive locations and, even as a consulting firm, offer exceptionally flexible working time models: Recently, a dock manager traveled through Latin America for several weeks on sabbatical. This management colleague worked hybrid hours with her team as part of her "workation".
What about professional attractiveness and meaningfulness?
Weidemann: Internally and externally, we work on highly interesting projects and contemporary topics. Also, we use the latest technologies in our office work. In the Public Sector specialist area, we create societal impact within the framework of humanitarian projects. We also lighten the workload of employees in the finance and insurance industries by enabling them to move easily through processes: for example, the insurance administrator who now only has to work with a single tool thanks to an optimized process. Productivity enhancements through our solutions provides relief and helps make people happier.
Schlünzen: Modern, professional training and development in all facets is also important to us and the talents in our work environment. That's why we train our employees on technology stacks as well as in the development of technical and methodological skills. For example, we certify our colleagues directly - or have them certified externally.
How does IKOR uphold its culture?
Weidemann: Since we've been getting together again more post-Covid, there's been a jolt through the organization. The exchange is closer simply because we are interacting again at the coffee machine or, more recently, increasingly at team events, in live workshops, and also at IKOR celebrations. Shared experiences and memories forge stronger bonds than video conferences. Through our hybrid work mode, new ideas have emerged on how we move forward in projects.
IKOR's Kununu reviews also reflect this. Nevertheless, how do you deal with critical inputs on such review platforms?
Schlünzen: We take constructive feedback very seriously and seek first to understand our critics. I don't take venting personally, focusing on the message, not the tone. I believe and trust that the other 315 people in the company take our motto to heart; "We develop solutions."
Weidemann: Particularly in the case of anonymous criticism, it can initially be unclear what the core issue is, what has happened and why, and whether it is an individual case. IKORians have many opportunities for dialog: they can talk to the managing directors, HR or the staff trust committee , which can also present their colleagues' concerns anonymously. In addition, we have just launched the "Letterbox" so that employees can contribute constructive suggestions and ideas, enabling us together to improve things and move forward.