Cisco Systems

​​​Cisco Systems tapped on its expertise as a technology company to implement flexible work practices, providing the tools to empower employees’ success in their careers while maintaining fulfilling personal lives. Cisco’s commitment to achieving work-life harmony has proven to be an effective attraction and retention strategy.

Facts in a Flash

Industry Industry: Information & Communications

Employment size Employment size: Above 1,000

Employment profile Employment profile: IT, corporate and administrative staff

Employment profile Featured work-life programmes:

Flexible Work Arrangements
  • Staggered time
  • Telecommuting
Leave Schemes
  • Sabbatical leave
Click here to o​​​​​​​pen the Executive Summary.

Starting Point

Cisco Systems (Cisco) is a global leader in the IT industry which seeks to transform the way people connect, communicate and collaborate. The management recognises that employees want to enjoy career progression and also maintain fulfilling personal lives. Thus, Cisco has made it a priority to provide the space, avenues and tools to empower employees to be equally successful in both work and life.

Success Factors

1. Organisational Leadership Strategies

The senior management team signals its commitment to flexibility practices by taking the lead in utilising the same mobile workstations and facilities as their employees. They recognise the need to maintain touch points with employees in a culture where team members may be working from different locations. Company-wide podcasts are held once every quarter to connect leadership with the rest of the team.

2. Organisational Work-life Strategy

Cisco’s work-life strategy has evolved over the years, adapting to the changing needs of the business as well as employees. The company has formalised its flexible work arrangements in the Cisco Flexible Work Pract​ices which offer flexibility options to almost all employees except those who are needed on-site. Cisco’s regional headquarters office in Singapore is an intelligent building fully equipped with various types of workspaces to facilitate the different work needs of employees, which enables a fully flexible workforce.

3. Information Management Strategies

Cisco’s flexibility practices are included in the company’s HR policies along with guidelines on mobility and IT security. This ensures that employees are able to tap on the flexibility options and relevant resources without ambiguity as to how they should be utilised.

Consistent communication is a crucial factor in managing a fully mobile workforce, and Cisco taps on its internal expertise as a technology company to address this need. The company has redefined the traditional concept of ‘face-time’; at Cisco, employees work remotely, yet still maintain a virtual presence through IT.

New hires are provided with resources to ensure their quick assimilation into the company’s work culture. Every employee undergoes New Hire Training and is assigned a mentor. A website with resources and HR policy details is also easily accessible.

4. Performance Management Strategies

Employees are assessed based on their performance and work results. Cisco’s performance management matrix has various elements to ensure that it accurately monitors and captures the efficiency of employees, which include conducting bi-annual employee reviews, setting clear and measurable goals and deliverables, and having open, positive communication between managers and employees.

This has brought about a strong culture of trust and personal integrity amongst the team as employees feel empowered to manage their own time for maximum productivity.

Promising Outcomes

Cisco’s flexibility practices and commitment to empowering employees to achieve work-life harmony have proven to be an effective attraction and retention strategy. This is especially noteworthy in the current IT-driven work environment. Cisco has experienced business growth and also gained recognition on a wider platform, receiving the 2013 HRM award for the Best Use of Technology.

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This case study was first published on the former Employer Alliance website.​