Digital Realty

International HR outsourcing

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Digital Realty is the world's largest data centre company

Digital Realty

The brief

Digital Realty was the market leader in the US and were looking to expand further across Europe and Asia.

With a lack of HR established in either of these locations they required a resource that could work closely with them to provide flexible, pragmatic and strategic support, whilst introducing them to specialists that could enable their organisation to successfully function across Europe and Asia.

They needed an acting head of HR for international operations and so a thorough understanding of US and European differentiators was crucial.

Why Connor?

We were selected as Digital Realty’s service provider of choice because of the flexible nature of our HR service and our knowledge of the European, Asian and US markets. Our expertise meant we would be able to successfully attract, retain and develop talent in order to grow the client's business across Europe.

We were able to provide them with an experienced HR director with knowledge of their markets and operational environments, who had a range of useful contacts.

This person had previous work experience of similar US companies and the challenges they faced. He was both sufficiently senior to operate independently when required but within the framework of the parent company and flexible enough to operate strategically, operationally and tactically when required. If there was no work then Digital Realty was not charged, helping to manage costs.

The approach

We were pragmatic and responsive, implementing strategies and resolutions to issues in a timely manner to minimise both risk and budget. Our commercial acumen enabled us to manage relationships well, acting as a credible influence upon senior management teams.

What we did for Digital Realty

We supported Digital Realty on a regular basis for over four years and we helped them to develop and implement a business strategy.

We recruited a HR co-ordinator and when the time was right indicated the need to recruit a permanent HR director for EMEA. We managed that recruitment process to successful conclusion and helped in the induction of the new HR director where our service ended.

The service provided was truly flexible in spanning many areas of the employee lifecycle, including:

Company acquisition and integration

  • We supported the client with a complex purchase of another business in the UK involving the integration of employees into Digital Realty
  • We reviewed all terms and benefits and fully integrated the employees into the Digital terms & benefits without any staff unrest.

Recruitment campaigns

  • When Digital Realty opened a site in Holland we identified recruiters, filled all positions, established legally compliant contracts, arranged appropriate terms and benefits and arranged the induction of all new staff
  • We carried out similar initiatives in Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan.
  • In the UK a whole new business development team was appointed over a nine month period, where we managed to attract highly experienced individuals from major competitors enhancing Digital Realty’s profile as an employer of choice in a very competitive industry.

Employee development

  • The pace of growth was significant and employees needed to grow with the business. A new executive team was established and its members were given extensive mentoring and coaching by the Connor HR director to ensure they developed the appropriate competencies to make an effective strategic contribution
  • Throughout the European operation we recruited talented individuals with growth potential, by giving them training and development we were able to prepare them for career moves within the company which led to the majority of senior positions being filled internally including talent from Europe being sent to Asia to strengthen the business in that region.

Employment law issues

  • In France and Holland we identified serious employee issues that had to be dealt with in a sensitive and legally compliant way. Connor managed those on Digital Realty’s behalf, without resorting to any significant compensatory awards or large legal bills.
  • In the UK, Connor handled a number of highly sensitive employee issues that could have damaged Digital Realty’s reputation and led to expensive court cases. All matters were resolved internally at no significant cost.
  • Throughout Connor’s time with the business there was never one employee case that went to an employment tribunal.

Day to day operational HR support

  • We undertook a terms and benefit review in each country, presenting proposals to the US senior vice president and then implementing agreed schemes
  • We managed all day to day HR issues.

Business outcomes

  • Digital Realty is successfully established across Europe and Asia
  • We established country specific benefits programmes across Asia and EMEA
  • Recruitment costs reduced by 30%
  • Employee satisfaction was maintained at 85%
  • Employee retention levels increased to 85%
  • The HR cost per employee remained low throughout the period. Our working hours remained flexible. The client was only charged for the actual hours worked in any particular day.
  • The trust and confidence in the Connor HR director was such that when the managing director of EMEA left on ill health retirement he was asked to step in on an interim basis for six months during which time he helped with filling the role and supporting the onboarding of the new managing director.

What the client said

"We have worked with Connor for a number of years.  During this time, they have always been flexible and able to upscale their service in key areas of our business where we have needed it the most.

Connor is a truly flexible and strategic HR provider who are there when we need them. We'd happily recommend them to any organisation looking for something that's a cut above the rest."
Ellen Jacobs, senior vice president, Digital Realty
Kate Keaney

Contact Kate Keaney

Head of HR services and talent & organisation development

"I enjoy working with leaders and teams to realise the individual, team and business changes and benefits they want."

Kate Keaney