Increase employee happiness, reduce work stress: Solarclarity’s good employment practices
By Kirsten van Enk | March 29, 2021
By now it's probably familiar: we have been working with extra measures, working from home, online meetings, (home) work stress and staying connected for over a year. We saw that during the first intelligent lockdown the stress increased and a 50/50 ratio of positive and negative moods developed in the second wave. It's difficult, then, to increase employee happiness. Nevertheless, things really went different at Solarclarity: they have a trend of employee happiness of 80% and the work stress remains structurally low.
We spoke about this with Maura Stalpers, HR Director, and Marijn de Ruiter, HR Officer. They both regularly dive into the data of 2DAYSMOOD to increase the employee happiness of Solarclarity's employees, and to reduce work stress. Solarclarity is a fast-growing, innovative and sustainable company that now employs about 110 people. And then you also need to innovate as an HR department, Maura and Marijn thought.
More than just a smiley
“Even before we started 2DAYSMOOD in April 2020, we were already measuring the emotions and moods of employees,” says Marijn. "But we did everything manually." At the reception downstairs, they placed a sheet where people could tick a smiley face and give an explanation for their choice. This was already completed fairly well and employees were consistently working on this. The results were also discussed every day.
But especially analyzing manually took a lot of time. “And so Maura proposed working with 2DAYSMOOD. It was important to us that we could measure frequently. Annually, like a traditional employee satisfaction survey, would not be enough,” says Marijn. "Because 2DAYSMOOD goes further than just choosing a smiley, it became even more interesting."
Because Solarclarity is a fast-growing company, they like to be able to react quickly, adds Maura. “This way we can continue to support everyone well. We look at how employees feel and what they need to do their job better. It is important to keep employees engaged and to ask for feedback.”
An employee happiness trend of 80%
In the Work Stress Data Report you can read, among other things, that the negative and positive emotions during work reach a distribution of almost 50/50. A serious development that we should not underestimate. Yet we do not see this at Solarclarity: their job satisfaction is no less than 80%. According to Marijn, increasing employee happiness has to do with the freedom, development and growth opportunities that the organization offers its employees. “During COVID-19 we really tried to keep everyone happy. We have connected as much as possible and showed that we think about our employees,” she explains. For example, they continue to have lunch together online and a short chat was held by the director of the company every week.
“We communicated a lot during the crisis. We provided updates every week by default, and so the director also participated,” says Maura. Even if there was no update, they thought it was important to keep communication lines open. "It is especially good that employees know what we are doing and that we really listen to employee feedback."
Lowering work stress
Not only did they continue to increase employee happiness, the percentage of employees suffering from work stress remains structurally low at Solarclarity. Especially when you compare that with the average Dutch employee, it is striking. How did they do that?
This is partly because they offer a lot of flexibility as an employer, says Maura. For example, if employees were busy teaching their children during the day, they made up for a working hour in the evening. “The confidence that people finish their work is decisive in this,” says Maura. But it is not only the work processes that contribute to keeping the work stress low. “We also select on the basis of stress resistance when hiring new people. We have a stressful working environment,” says Marijn. New employees therefore know what they are getting into and are not presented with unexpected surprises.
Making work stress negotiable
2DAYSMOOD supports this by making the data transparent, according to Maura. The stress is closely monitored and discussed. Continuous measurements keep them responsive and able to intervene quickly if they see changes. “In this way we prevent people from dropping out for a long time due to burnouts, for example,” says Maura. “We really care about the well-being of our people. As a result, we keep a close eye on work stress and discuss this with each other at team level, but also personally. We have a very familiar organizational culture in which this is also possible.”
Data as a KPI in increasing employee happiness
For example, they discuss the results of the 2DAYSMOOD data every week, and Maura makes sure the topic is top of mind every month during a meeting with the management team. Because this data is one of the most important KPIs of the Business Unit Leaders, she says. This KPI is split into two parts.
First, they use the response rate as a KPI to measure the level of employee engagement. In April they started high with an 80% response rate. Now they are at 60%, which is a good percentage for an organization of their size. Maura says that many employees of the logistics department did not participate in the mood measurements. "Then we asked what we could do so that they would." Based on this, it was decided to place a column with an iPad in the department. And that has worked: now the logistics employees are also participating. In this way, they ensure that they involve everyone in the measurements.
As a second KPI, they use the employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) as the overall satisfaction rating. They already have a high score of 32 for this. The goal for next year, with the new strategy, is to at least not lower this score. "Ten times a year we update the results via the intranet," says Marijn. “We want to continue to provide good feedback to our employees from the eNPS. In this way we show what we are doing with the results and we hold weekly and monthly meetings.”
Remain a good employer
Their eNPS already shows that Solarclarity employees would generally recommend them to others as a good employer. How do they ensure such a high score? “We select new people based on the core values of our organization,” says Marijn. “We are a progressive and sustainable company that makes a real contribution. So we think it is important that our employees can identify with this. They really have to be involved in growth, sustainability and also the opportunities that go with it.”
In addition, they attach great importance to the development of their employees. Employees can grow internally by, for example, being given extra responsibility. “If there is ambition to continue to grow or take on a different role, we really try to take a look with our people,” says Marijn. Maura adds: “Because we are a fast-growing company, there are also more opportunities. But we try to think along about how people continue to challenge their work and how they continue to experience job satisfaction.”
They give their employees the confidence to try out new roles. Because, they think, when you get the trust, you feel responsible. And when you feel responsible, you handle your work differently. A win-win situation!
This is how you increase employee happiness too!
Do you want to achieve the same results? "Then keep giving updates to your employees!" says Marijn. That way you know what is going on in each other's (work) life. And by regularly discussing the results of 2DAYSMOOD, they ensure that they are aware of developments within the company. The golden tip according to Maura: “Give your employees that trust. That can be exciting and not feel natural. You may feel inclined to tell them how to do something. But by giving them freedom, employees can decide for themselves how they organize their work. And that, in addition to sustainability, is one of the most important reasons that people want to work for us.”
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