In Legentic we value our employees – they are the real asset of any tech-company! And as we have a truly distributed organisation – pandemic or not – a good company culture is nothing we can take for granted. Our employees are of 9 nationalities, located in 7 different countries in 10 different cities and connected to 5 offices.
To ensure that we build a strong positive culture, and take good care of all employees, we have appointed Sonja Baer to be our Happiness Manager. We had a chat with Sonja to find out more about what a Happiness Manager actually does, and what she has done to build a strong feeling of “we” in Legentic.
So Sonja, congratulations on the world’s best title ever! What is the role of a Happiness Manager?
Yes isn’t it great?! My main responsibility and goal can be summed up in two words: Employee Satisfaction. In addition to our huge diversity, we also have a history of merging three companies. There were a lot of things that needed to be addressed when I started in this position last year.
What have been your main success factors?
One is internal communication. In a distributed company information doesn’t flow freely. You can’t just pick up what’s going on around the coffee machine or at lunch break. So I make sure that everyone is informed about big and small, that they know our goals - and follow them passionately. To help with that we have created several fixed touch points. Our monthly all-hands meetings are not a one way monologue from the CEO, but an arena where different topics are discussed. We also have a weekly Friday Café, where whoever wants to join in for a coffee and a chat about weekend plans and whatever. This is especially of value for new employees.
Another thing that has been of critical importance are our values: Collaborative, Courageous and Caring. They were defined as a result of a broad brand strategy process, but are only words on a piece of paper unless they are truly implemented in the organization. We had digital “value cafés”, where all employees – from the bottom to the top – participated. We all shared our thoughts, talked about how things had been, and how we wanted things to be, moving forward. We described the company that we wanted to create, together, and how each and everyone should live out our values, in everyday work life.
One thing that came out of this was our “15 minute-rule”: You’re not allowed to sit with a problem for more than 15 minutes before asking a colleague for help! It may seem banal, but strong professionals often find it difficult to show their shortcomings. Now everyone has a good excuse to ask for help, and we’ve seen the collaboration increasing tremendously. Our “newbies” also report that the 15 minute-rule is a great help for them too.
Thirdly, we have focused on implementing structured routines for onboarding and talent development. We have established a mentor system for all new employees. They have one dedicated person that takes care of them the first three months. A “buddy” that you can always lean to. The first two weeks the mentor and mentee often work “beside” each other with their camera on and an online meeting running. They don’t necessarily talk together or work on the same task all the time, but it lowers the bar to ask questions and get help on the spot. Just like you would in a physical work environment.
For talent development we have yearly conversations with your manager where topics include the work environment, our values, and personal development. The aim of these conversations is to find your strengths and develop those even further. Then we follow up with biyearly evaluations on goals.
This all sounds really impressive Sonja! But what do you do in terms of socializing?
Having fun with your colleagues is of vital importance. But it’s not that easy to pop down to the pub after work when we are located all over Europe. Once a month we get together for a social online event. We’ve met for bingo, quizzes and gaming. And we had a legendary Christmas party last year, with a “live” DJ and a crazy santa jumping around all night (who by the way was the manager of our Holland-office Ron). We’re still talking about that!
And to take care of our body and mind, we arrange online yoga classes twice a week, Monday night and Thursday mornings.
And are your efforts paying off? How do you know when you succeed in creating employee satisfaction?
I am a big believer in setting goals, and monitoring the results. We have invested in a solution called Peacon, that every month sends out a small questionnaire to all employees to “measure the temperature” and an opportunity to give open feedback. Last year we improved the overall satisfaction from 7.5 to 8.2. This is really awesome, and a huge inspiration for me and the whole company!