Blankets and employee engagement at Microsoft.



Microsoft is on a roll, on several levels.  Share price, mojo, accessibility, cloud computing, patent strategy etc. It is a company rejuvenated. From the outside, it exudes confidence, but without the brashness of the last time it was the world’s most valuable company.  This blog is at risk of too much Microsoft fandom. 

This morning I noticed this in my Linkedin feed.


There are few moments in life as exciting and challenging as the impending arrival of a baby.  Priorities change, assumptions go overboard.  At is at times like this that employees may question where and why they work at your company. 

Many US organizations are grappling with how to effectively manage and provide parental leave, partly because of the absence of government mandated regulations.  Microsoft has competitive family leave policies, but that is not what led me to write this.

Microsoft HR delivered an impactful and thoughtful message to this employee.  An appropriate gift (a baby blanket),  a small gesture to relevant charity, a reminder about the company policies, all explained in a well written letter.  Clearly this connected with the employee, and as he heads off on his parental leave, his emotional bond with Microsoft is massively  strengthened. His post, going somewhat viral on Linkedin, highlights Microsoft as a caring employer, helping both recruitment and retention.

For this process to work, it doesn’t require machine learning nor predictive analytics nor a chatbot. It requires a well thought out policy and accurate, up to date administrative HR data  processes, a simple integration to the gift fulfillment service,  all well as  a donation payment via the financial system.  

It is tempting to see workforce engagement as the next frontier of HR technology investment, and yes, there is a lot of new, exciting technologies to help organizations build a better workplace.  But if you have the discipline to have a robust  core administrative systems and a bit of imagination, there is a lot you can do today.  Chapeau Microsoft, and here is wishing David and his family all the best, and lots of sleep.