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Why Gemstone Logistics Hires People Instead of Skillsets in a Tech Industry with High Turnover

In 2018, LinkedIn conducted a study and found that technology companies had the highest turnover rates out of any industry (13.2%). That’s a staggering statistic that has a major impact on our industry, as well as local businesses and people who rely on technology.

The Gemstone team hasn’t solved the problem on a grand scale, but our hiring and culture-building practices have had a positive effect on our team, which is why we wanted to share some of these benefits with others.

Building a Team of Tech Professionals that Choose to Stay

If there’s one thing we know for certain at Gemstone Logistics, it’s that building a strong team is the most important thing any small business in Edmonton can do. It’s particularly important for SAAS (software as a service) providers. When our team feels invested in each other, our clients, and our future as a business, providing innovative and improved software solutions is the easy part.

Knowing this, our leadership and management team has always been driven to build a team that puts people first and skillsets second. Our HR strategy is to hire based on the “buildable” characteristics people already have. In some cases, that means hiring someone who wouldn’t typically be the “ideal” candidate for a job position based on learned and acquired skills. In all cases, the results have been phenomenal.

For example, last year we were looking to fill a new position for our customer support team. We hired a fantastic team member who came to us with very little experience in software support. After her interview, we shortlisted her based on her incredible passion and drive for helping people, as well as her ability to work well within a large team. As it turned out, it was worthwhile to invest the time into training her to build the skills she needed for the position. She’s become an amazing team member and has grown her skillset well beyond what we initially hoped.

With that in mind, here are three reasons we believe all SAAS providers in Edmonton and beyond should be hiring people instead of skillsets:

1. It gives you the ability to develop a greater range of skillsets to round out your team

There’s one characteristic we look for first in resumes and interviews: a willingness to learn. Without this primary driver, a new employee (and our team) will run up against constant obstacles to growth. This is a requirement even for our resident experts.

It’s important to find tech talent, of course, and sure, everyone has a specific role in a team, but without any flexibility, we aren’t able to help each other effectively. We’re a hands-on team, and at busy times, team members often need to reach out and ask for help. In those instances, there’s always someone willing and able to lend a hand, and that’s largely because we encourage cross-training, collaboration, and continuous learning.

Here are a few other “person-based” qualities we look for in job candidates:

  • A deeply founded curiosity about technology, people, and solutions
  • A team-driven mentality
  • Someone who knows how to have fun
  • Goals and passions inside and outside of the workplace
  • Strong values that they live on a daily basis and that match up with our company values of family, acceptance, authenticity, empowerment, and accountability

Finally, inclusivity and diversity in hiring is what makes the Gemstone team stand out and stay together. We’re a gender balanced team with a nearly even 50% balance (including an almost even split for management positions). We also come from all different background and ethnicities. Nepal, China, India, and Scotland are just a few places our team calls home.

2. Retain employees who will grow with the company and products

Let’s revisit that LinkedIn statistic: Technology and software companies have the highest turnover rate out of all industries (13.2%).

So what does that mean for clients? Employees? Businesses?

In short, it means that the entire industry is being stunted. Employees coming and going can create extreme instability in a business, let alone it’s products and processes. 

At Gemstone, we know that one of the main reasons we’re able to retain our employees for longer (our average tenure is 3.5 years and increasing) is due to our inclusive hiring practices and providing opportunities for growth within the company. We’re looking for a good fit with our team, and when we achieve that, people want to stay.

For example, when we’re looking for software development experts, we look for diversity in skillsets, strong goals, and a passion for problem-solving. New developers typically love to dive right into the code and take on crazy challenges that come up in development. This creates a positive environment where everyone can work toward their individual goals while supporting the company’s growth.

Two of the top reasons cited for technology professionals leaving a company are a lack of opportunity for advancement and a desire for more challenging work. Our choice to promote from within and invest in people has helped us overcome these issues. For example, someone who starts in a tier 1 support desk position can work her way into a database administration role, a programmer/developer role, or a level 2 support role (and we have examples of all three!)

We have a learning and development fund on hand that helps employees access virtually any course, program, or conference they’d like to attend. In 2020, one of our main initiatives is to use more of this fund to continue investing in our employees’ development. We already have several people using the fund this year, from taking an advanced Excel course to upgrading their university degrees.

3. Better relationships between staff and clients

Another benefit of hiring staff based on team fit and personal characteristics is the ability to build strong long-term relationships. In our office, it’s not unusual to see different people collaborating on software development, technical support, or client care. We also like to hang out outside the office and beyond work hours, putting on family events, charity events, and a few early afternoons spent enjoying games and food at local restaurants and shops.

Possibly the most important benefit of these hiring practices is the customer care and more innovative software solutions that result from a close-knit team. Clients know who they’re talking to when they call or connect, which builds trust and ensures faster, more responsive service. On the development side, collaboration leads to higher-quality products that are built with the input and expertise of a fully rounded team of tech professionals.

Our team is truly the backbone of our company. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to continually develop new management software for remote camps in the construction and oil and gas industries.

Team Building is the Future of the Technology Industry in Alberta

As the technology industry continues to develop and shift, we’re hopeful that positive changes at the company level will begin to impact everyone involved. Despite the room for improvement, tech companies in Alberta are still doing incredible things and we’re proud to be part of the innovation! If you have questions about our hiring practices, software solutions, or you’re interested in applying for a position with Gemstone Logistics, please reach out to our team for more information.

Kaitlin is the Manager of Software & HR, and prides herself on her keen problem solving abilities. She is dedicated to finding the most efficient and streamlined solution in all aspects of her life whether it’s finding the best way to see the most in Europe, or working through a complex implementation strategy – she is up to whatever challenge comes her way!