How TRND Started With Employee Empowerment (and How You Can Too)
Employee Empowerment Techniques: The TRND way
He shared his journey towards employee empowerment, and accountability of employees. And as Sven’s organization is about to celebrate 1000 days of real-time employee morale, we wanted to share his story:
“A few years ago I started to look for new ways to empower employees. I discovered how to have a roadmap throughout the year to improve your present situation.
So we did a Great Place to Work and since then I learnt to have much more meetings with employees.
They have much more ideas and more potential than I have. I saw that the more the employees were involved, the better the company was going.
So it’s the best way to go!
Perk at Work: Fruit
When you’re a startup you don’t have a lot of money as you start. And the more you grow… the less money you have. So it’s a bit difficult to find investments for the employees.
One year we managed to have money to buy fruit once a week, and since then we have fruit every week.
We then managed to buy a huge fridge that makes ice cubes. This was after a Summer of our employees saying “we really want ice cubes in our drinks!”. So I said, OK, let’s try to manage that.
We also have a Table Football, foosball, and two years ago we managed to pay the gym for our employees, yoga classes, courses, etc.
But this year it wasn’t possible due to international results, so we made a small pause.
We hope to get it back quickly!
Employee Empowerment Training
One of my higher purposes is to spread happiness and develop people and ideas.
The idea is to look at all of our employeees during the year and make the decision of how to best train them.
We are part of the Bertelsmann Group so we have access to a lot of online courses. But most employees don’t like sitting alone in front of a computer doing this.
So we organize a lot of in-house training: like how to speak better, Dale Carnegie courses for sales people and others, to get employees more conscious about themselves.
Developing People in the Workplace
I am convinced that the more people know about themselves, the more they can work on themselves, and accept changes toward someone else.
So every employee that starts with us receives the possibility to develop themselves and their skills.
We have the Celpax button at the exit door, so every day when you go home you press a button. If you had a good day you press green, if you had a bad day you press red. So basically you can see how the employee mood is changing.
And at the end of a month you can see that woooh, there is a big gap! Something happened!
So we say OK, let’s gather everyone together to discuss what happened. And let’s find within the employees what could be the cause, or what we could do to get back to normal levels.
Eventually Employees Take Perks for Granted
Something very interestingly I’ve seen is that people get used to tools.
So the free food, or the sport, or all the training, after one or two years… it gets normal.
I know some companies that charge for water. We wouldn’t do that, it’s just free.
We have a flex time policy, people can work form home and we try to empower employees from day one.
But one challenge I see is that people get used to these things so quickly. It’s not something special anymore. Nevertheless, I think the happiness level here at TRND is pretty high.
Generation Z and Millenials… when they come here and it’s their first job they don’t have anything to compare too.
So for them its normal.
So perhaps they have to go and work somewhere else to come back and realize that it isn’t always so normal. We have things like days off for administrative work that you have to do- as it’s a pain.
I think it’s easy to reach an OK happiness level, I think it’s much harder to stay at a high level.
So the quicker every employee can get more responsibility, the quicker the Managing Director can get out of the way and be seen as someone that empowers and helps, and not so much a boss.
We try to have as little hierarchy as possible, I hope in one or two years we can get rid of hierarchies, but it has its challenges.
Empowerment in the workplace: The Why
If you cannot share your vision or higher purpose, or if your employees don’t understand why they are here, then its hard to step in to a more conscious level.
So the more your employees reflect upon where we are going and why, the better.
I think it’s difficult to have everyone aligned. Some people just want to come and work.
But with others we take the time to discuss more philosophical approaches about why we are here, why we are working together and how they want to go forward.
I can really see the difference between now and 3 years ago! I think we have reached a more conscious level that makes us all happier than a few years ago.
How to handle difficult conversations at work
If on the Celpax device you have 85% happy and it goes down to 60%, then you can discuss it.
It specially helps when you have employees that are a bit more shy and can’t express themselves.
If you have a joint meeting or a suggestion box, then people will tell you stuff like ‘Well maybe I’m not happy because’ – and this is typical in Spain – ‘half of the employees want to have the air conditioning on, and half want to have the windows open’.
So maybe we have to discuss this together to see how we can come to a common ground.
Some people don’t want to have trouble, they prefer to express themselves through buttons at the beginning, rather than through discussions.
Why reflecting on work activities is important?
It’s the same instant feedback idea as you see in airports, with one big difference. In the airport, the idea is to get a KPI, metrics so you can see what is happening.
With Celpax it’s not so much about the metric as about consciousness of happiness.
If I as an employee press red five days in a row, maybe I can ask myself: why did I press red five times?
What can I do as an employee to get back on green? Who should I talk to? What can I change?
So it’s not just about the company seeing there are 5 reds, but also an invitation to the employee to change something.
We don’t have so many shy employees anymore.
Every time there is a way of improvement, it’s quickly brought up in our Monday staff meeting. I have an idea! I want to do this! Great, let’s discuss it. Let’s do it!”
- Head over to People On The Grid and listen to the full podcast with Sven Mulfinger (29 min).