IT services' iSoftStone gets dual nod as top employer

Updated: 2012-12-14 14:45

By Chen Jia in Kirkland, Washington (China Daily)

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IT services provider iSoftStone Holdings Ltd is developing a reputation as a top employer at home and abroad, earning awards from a Chinese human-resources association and a Washington state business newspaper.

From the plush red sofa, game console and electronic drums, along with free cookies and tea, a tour of the company's office in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, a block from Lake Washington, offers clues to the staff's satisfaction. But the pluses of working here go beyond creature comforts, according to employees.

"It's awesome to work in a company that values a multicultural environment and to see the interaction of employees on a daily basis where you're working on a project or development," project manager Josh King told China Daily. "It's cool to see business coming together in that way between two countries."

This summer, the NYSE-listed company was recognized as one of the Best Workplaces in Washington state by the Puget Sound Business Journal, a Seattle-based daily that created the awards in 2007.

iSoftStone was among 85 companies with a local presence, culled from a list of 200 nominees, that drew the highest marks from their own employees in areas such as hiring and retention practices, benefits such as 401(k) retirement savings plans and various perks.

Based on worker surveys commissioned by the paper, iSoftstone was one of 25 winners in the large-company category (between 151 and 500 full-time employees). The Beijing-based company's global work force of about 13,000 includes 400 US employees. (Other offices are in Boston, New York and other cities)

This week, the company was named "China Best Employer" for the third consecutive year by the International Association on Human Resource Management, composed of Chinese professionals. Its award criteria were "best practices" in managing personnel, particularly management's understanding of and involvement in human resources, efforts to enhance the work environment, training opportunities and employees' satisfaction overall.

Behind this recognition, according to workers interviewed, are perks like a soccer team that was started last year. King said the games help establish camaraderie on the field that translates to teamwork in the office.

Others in the Kirkland office laud the views of scenic Lake Washington from the building's outdoor deck replete with tables and grills that the staff can use anytime.

Kelly McHugh, a generalist in the human-resources department who joined the company three years ago, said iSoftStone encourages a healthy work-life balance. The company values hard work and employees who are "devoted and passionate" about their jobs, she said, but it also encourages "time spent out of the office away from work so employees can reset and come back refreshed and not burned out".

She appreciates the mix of American and Chinese culture as well. All of the conference rooms in the four-story brick office are named after major cities of China.

In providing outsourced services such as application development and maintenance, research and development, and business processes, iSoftStone considers itself a "pioneer in human resource management in China's IT services industry", according to a company statement. It cites "competitive benefits" and "comprehensive training", and says iSoftStone "cares about the communities where its employees live and work" and shares its success with workers.

"We're always looking for great talent since our company here in the United States is expanding so fast," Weiling Li, a vice-president of the company who works in the Kirkland office, told China Daily.

The outsourcing firm counts several multinational companies among its clients, in high tech, telecommunications, financial services, health care, energy, transportation and other industries. Among these is Microsoft Corp, which is based in nearby Redmond, Washington, and has significant operations in China.

Another vice-president, Glenn Bowers, said iSoftStone has been providing consulting services to Microsoft for eight years and considers the giant a key strategic partner.

"We are able to partner with clients such as Microsoft to take their products and services to Asia," he said.

(China Daily 12/14/2012 page9)