Concerns have been raised that Check Point's commission structure and management culture is having an adverse impact on staff attrition rates at the security vendor.
Check Point has lost about a third of its UK staff – around 20 people – this year, according to various sources. This includes not only a string of management heads such as Terry Greer King, Zoe Clark (who has moved to Websense) and Spencer Starkey (who has joined McAfee), but also numerous rank-and-file sales staff.
While staff retention is an issue faced by all vendors, one industry onlooker described the attrition rate at Check Point this year as "astronomical".
Various sources, including partners, fingered Check Point's commission structure and flat management structure – meaning even small decisions must be signed off from Israel – as the main culprits.
While the vendor is known as a "mid-range" payer, commission plans are often issued towards the end of the year and a lack of accelerators and policy of capping commission mean sales staff have little incentive to over-achieve, onlookers said.
"Good people don't leave their jobs if they are earning good commission and being looked after," said one source.
"Check Point runs the organisation like it's a 10-man business, and it now has 2,500 staff – they need to get into the 21st century."
Staff feel "cheated" when sales targets are suddenly raised in November, said another source.
Check Point declined to comment for the story but it may well take the view that it has no need to change anything given that its sales rose eight per cent in 2012 to $1.346bn (£0.88bn) and its market worth has trebled over the past five years. Its technology is almost universally lauded by analysts and partners alike.
But Simon Hember, founder of IT security recruitment firm Acumin, said Check Point's recent growth has spawned a political and bureaucratic culture that risks stifling innovation.
Unlike most of its peers, Check Point has been loath to employ external recruitment firms to attract talent and Hember said this had made it a "source company" for the recruitment industry.
"The fact they don't use agencies turns them into a key target and hunting ground for talent, which immediately causes attrition issues," he said.
Some resellers complained the mass exodus of staff had caused continuity problems – after all, it has got through three channel sales directors (Dave Moss, Anna Russell and Zoe Clark) in 14 months.
But John Gilbertson, managing director of Check Point Platinum partner Bytes Security Partnerships, argued that the vendor's staff attrition woes had had little impact on his business.
"I don't see this affecting our business," he said. "The technology is great and the staff that remain – especially Mike [Wakefield, who recently took over the channel sales director role following Zoe Clark's departure] – have been instrumental in driving the growth of our business."
Gilbertson said staff leaving was "just one of those things".
"At the moment, there is huge demand within the security marketplace for good people and some companies are paying silly money," he said.
Check Point has recently hired a dedicated internal recruitment specialist and has "substantial open headcount", said one source. New staff are arriving every week, we hear, including from Websense, with which Check Point has a long-running history of staff swapsies.
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