In an industry with high turnover rates, Systematic retains its experienced employees
Twenty-nine percent of employees in Danish IT companies switched job last year. But not at Systematic, where employees are happy to stay for a long time. For example Jens Peder Rasmussen, who after three decades at Systematic is still working at full gear and bringing invaluable expertise and experience to the table.
Hectic working lives and frequent job changes have become the norm in the IT industry, but at Systematic the trend is quite different. With bags of technical know-how, customer relationships stretching back years and extensive product expertise, experienced employees are an important ingredient for a successful company. At Systematic, just 10.3% of employees choose to switch jobs each year, while for the IT industry as a whole the figure is almost triple. Systematic is therefore good at holding onto its employees.
“The retention rate obviously mustn’t be too low, because it’s important to have new recruits who can contribute fresh ideas and perspectives. But it’s definitely a strength to have experienced employees on board – because they share their experience, and because when working with customers and partners it’s important to have a history to provide the best advice and deliver the right solutions,” says Group Senior Vice President for People & Culture at Systematic and soon-to-be CEO, Nikolaj Holm Bramsen.
To recognise and celebrate employees staying with the company, Systematic has established a wall of fame outside the auditorium at its head office in Aarhus. On the wall, photographs of employees who have celebrated their five-year anniversaries and more are displayed. Next to Jens Peder Rasmussen’s portrait, it says 30 years. He was employed in 1989 as the fifth employee in what was then an only four-year-old software company. Today, he is Director for Systematic’s exports of the electronic health record system Columna CIS, which is deployed at all hospitals in the three administrative regions in west Denmark.
“It takes time to understand the products and users you’re working with, and in addition to their extensive knowledge and history, people like Jens Peder Rasmussen also contribute considerable enthusiasm and drive. He is a huge resource for us and for new employees,” says Henrik Jespersen, Group Senior Vice President for Sales at Systematic Healthcare.
“On top of which, he’s one of our ‘stormtroopers’.
Thanks to his comprehensive experience with our products and their use as well as his in-depth knowledge of the health sector, there’s basically no task he’s given where he doesn’t land on both feet and creates a good solution – either in Denmark or abroad. Experience and insight soon build a bridge to new ideas and solutions. It’s incredibly valuable,” he says.
An atypical salesman with integrity
Systematic develops large and complex software solutions for, among other things, the health sector, defence, the police and libraries. It requires an in-depth understanding of user needs, and many years can elapse from initial idea to product launch, which is why domain knowledge and strong relations are the be-all and end-all.
“I set out to properly understand our users and their lives so we can make a real difference for them. It’s not my approach to just bowl up with a fancy briefcase and four PowerPoint slides in the hope of quickly winning a contract. It might make me a slightly atypical salesman, but Systematic is not driven by quarterly results, so I’ve always had the time to study things in detail. This support means a lot to me,” says Jens Peder Rasmussen.
Systematic’s entrepreneurial spirit and the long-term business perspective have been key reasons for him dedicating most of his working life to the company. For him, the work is meaningful, there is a high degree of freedom and there is room to make mistakes.
“That’s the advantage of not being a listed company,” he says with a smile.
Never stop developing
It is no secret that qualified workers are in high demand in the IT industry. Almost 90% of Danish IT companies are short of employees, particularly specialists. If you want to attract and retain your employees, being an attractive workplace is therefore crucial. At Systematic, this translates into having a working culture where the individual is in focus.
“People are at the heart of our business, and it is around them that everything else revolves, and we are constantly investing in our colleagues’ well-being and development,” says Nikolaj Holm Bramsen.
Jens Peder Rasmussen also highlights the possibilities that exist for being able to develop with the project and the fact that all your skills are brought into play.
“You are not pigeon-holed, where you can only do one thing. The freedom exists to tackle your role differently combined with the confidence that what you’re doing makes sense – whatever your seniority,” he says.
Not afraid of fresh input
Even though the expertise provided by experienced employees is invaluable, you need to strike the right balance with seniority, because a company also needs fresh input from new recruits as well as from returning former colleagues. In fact, as many as 21.6% of permanent employees have worked for Systematic before, including Jens Peder Rasmussen, who in 2006 left the company and spent 18 months as IT manager at Central Denmark Region.
“The experience gave me a completely new perspective on both the health sector and Systematic which I couldn’t have acquired in any other way. It’s important to keep driving one’s development, and a job change can be good in this respect,” he says.
Nikolaj Holm Bramsen agrees, and thinks it is both healthy and natural that people feel like trying their hand at something new outside Systematic.