Q&A with Equinix: Personalized Development for Employees through Coaching
While fast growth can be an exciting time for a company, it can also present new challenges, Equinix, a global leader in colocation and digital interconnection, has grown rapidly, quadrupling the size of its business since 2010 with more than 7600 employees in over 24 countries, and operating more than 200 interconnected data centers worldwide. During this time, one of the highest priorities for the company has been helping employees grow and develop and feel connected and engaged through high growth and change.
To address this, Equinix partnered with BetterUp to provide personalized coaching to employees across the organization worldwide. We sat down with Michelle Johns, Senior Manager of Talent Management at Equinix, to talk about Equinix’s growth, the decision to offer coaching to employees, and what impact the company has seen so far.
How has Equinix’s growth impacted employees and talent needs?
Equinix has grown and changed rapidly over the last few years, which has had an important impact on our workforce.
The complexity of our talent needs has expanded, and we have varied people management skills and experiences across the business. Our challenge has been—how do we provide meaningful and impactful opportunities for development and growth that can serve a broad spectrum of highly personal, individualized needs in a way that helps our employees feel engaged, supported, and have a true sense that they belong here.
What led you to consider coaching for employees?
We previously offered individual coaching to select Equinix executives and senior level talent and it was very impactful. As a result, we wanted to find a way to replicate that kind of experience, that level of personalized development, in a way that was scalable and accessible to employees across the organization.
While we believe it’s important to provide a spectrum of approaches to employee and leadership development, we strongly believe coaching can have a differentiated level of impact for individuals and the company. We see coaching as an accelerator for someone who’s already doing well; someone who wants to take their skills and capabilities to the next level.
Why did you decide to partner with BetterUp?
There were several reasons we chose BetterUp. BetterUp has a mobile platform that enabled us to provide customized and personalized development to employees at scale, which hadn’t been possible for us until now. Our employees can connect with their coaches and access support with just the click of a few buttons, at the times that work best for them.
Another important factor was the quality and accessibility of BetterUp coaches. It was important that employees across all regions of the company felt this program could be meaningful to them. BetterUp has high quality coaches throughout the world who know the local context and culture of our regional employees, are accessible in their time zones, and have taken the time to understand Equinix’s business. It’s an added bonus that our company culture aligns closely with BetterUp’s Whole Person approach to coaching, which addresses individuals both personally and professionally.
Since the launch of the program last year, who has received coaching in the organization?
We launched BetterUp with a focus on developing key talent and leadership across the organization. As the business has become more complex, the demands on leadership are greater than they’ve ever been. We wanted to give people the opportunity to work with a coach to navigate the challenges that come with growth and development as a leader in a new context, on a new level.
One area in particular that we’ve focused on is helping female leaders continue to grow in the company. We knew from our employee engagement and workforce data that we had an opportunity to further support women leaders across the company. Through this program we wanted to say—you matter to our business, we want you to be successful, and we want to give you an opportunity to work with a coach to take your skills and capabilities forward.
How have employees responded to coaching?
After nearly one year with BetterUp, the results have been strong. We’ve heard from so many employees how much they love their coach, and that the work has impacted their performance and overall wellbeing. Many are requesting to extend their experience for another year.
One striking result is how quickly employees who were skeptics of coaching shifted their views. We had people who had never received coaching before or who had a negative experience at other companies in the past, which led to some uncertainty. But after a few coaching sessions, it was amazing to see the shift in how people felt. Some of our biggest skeptics have logged the most time with their coaches!
I am confident that we’ve retained and accelerated the trajectories of key talent with this program and have been able to show that Equinix truly cares about their development in the process.
What is the biggest impact you’ve seen so far?
One benefit of BetterUp that you typically don’t see with a traditional coaching engagement is the ability to assess the progress of your coaching cohort and their behavioral changes with hard quantitative and qualitative data, while simultaneously maintaining appropriate confidentiality barriers. Our employees have experienced measurable behavior change while working with their coaches, in areas such as providing feedback and developing influence, as well as cultivating strategies to maintain energy and composure under stress. Alongside these significant behavioral improvements, our employees gave BetterUp a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 83. This data gave us confidence that the program has made an impact on our employees.
The qualitative assessments from coaches have also given us insight into the workforce and helped us identify capability gaps and priority focus areas for the company. For example, change management is something that we’re really going to emphasize this year, and BetterUp data helped contribute to that decision.
How will Equinix expand its use of coaching in the organization?
Because of the program’s success, we are currently exploring ways to expand and integrate BetterUp coaching into other talent programs, such as our pivotal leadership development program. In this program, we see coaching as a way to help employees transfer their learning experience to on-the-job behavioral improvements that will ultimately drive their growth and readiness for expanded responsibilities.
It is exciting to see how well the program has landed at Equinix, and the positive behavior change and meaningful growth our employees have experienced. I look forward to building on our successes with BetterUp in the coming year!