Technology company Aareon grows with insight in employee happiness and open communication
By Mare Derks | September 16, 2020
As a technology company and important player in the real estate market, Aareon likes to embrace innovative tools that can take the organization further. This also applies to organizational culture and happiness during work. Since 2019, they have been using 2DAYSMOOD to continuously gain insight into employee happiness, culture (differences) in departments and the financial benefit of happy employees: Return on Happiness.
Aareon has been around for more than 60 years and has seen strong growth, especially in recent years. “If you make acquisitions, it is accompanied by uncertainty,” says general manager Jeroen Kuiper. That is why Jeroen and HR manager Ria Feddema were looking for a way to measure how their employees were doing. That is how they found the solutionf from 2DAYSMOOD. “We wanted to know how things were really working for our employees,” says Jeroen. “This company is about our people. When they are satisfied and happy, they perform better.”
From snapshot to pulse
With about 280 employees, spread over several cities in the Netherlands: Amsterdam, Enschede, Amersfoort and the head office in Emmen, it is difficult to always keep close track of your employees. Before Aareon started using 2DAYSMOOD, they conducted an annual employee satisfaction survey. But this snapshot provided too little reliable input for concrete improvements. This created the need for a pulse measurement, a weekly or monthly recurring short online survey via e-mail or app. Step 1: How do you feel at work? Step 2: What is the reason for this? Or how satisfied are you with theme x? Step 3: Thanks for filling in (including a fun cartoon or inspirational quote!). “The great thing about 2DAYSMOOD is that you can follow a trend in the reporting. This way we keep an eye on whether we are doing well as an organization,” says Jeroen.
According to Ria, this cycle of feedback has inspired more contact between managers and employees: “When there is dissatisfaction, managers sometimes find it scary to talk about it. They then have to provide answers and solutions. But the most important thing is that it’s talked about, because then people feel heard. The fact that they now regularly discuss the results of the survey, has created a more open communication atmosphere that is also beneficial to our collaboration. The weekly mood report gives teams a push in the right direction.”
Focus on priorities per team
When they started with a baseline measurement last year, it was immediately clear that there was work to be done. The general image of Aareon as an employer, according to its own employees, was judged poorly. “We were able to significantly improve our employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS),” says Jeroen. This was also related to the acquisitions. They could also use the heat map to see where they should focus more to quickly realize positive change.
“The great thing about this tool is its flexibility. Within different locations, departments or teams, you can ask the right questions when necessary.”
Ria Feddema – HR manager – Aareon
In the heatmap, all question themes and teams are placed side by side for easy comparison. With signal colors, you can see at a glance where the successes and priorities are. “We looked at which points of attention were the greatest. We then went into this for five weeks with more targeted surveys,” says Ria. “The great thing about this tool is its flexibility. You can ask the right questions within different locations, departments or teams when needed,” she continues. This also meant that supervisors could keep track of whether the actions they took had an effect.
*The image below contains fictional data
Employee Happiness increases during covid
During the corona period, everyone had to make unexpected adjustments. Working professionals ended up in a stressful period with a lot of uncertainty. This could be seen in the general figure of happiness during work. At Aareon, people also had to work from home a lot more, but thanks to the pulse mood measurement, employee satisfaction and happiness was also automatically tracked during the corona period. For example, the trend lines in the dashboard confirmed a surprising increase in positive employee moods while stress and dissatisfaction declined.
According to Jeroen, this is because communication from the company has been strong: “We are very lucky that we are not financially affected by the crisis. As a result, we were able to immediately send a signal to employees that they did not have to worry.” There was also a ‘we’re in this together’-atmosphere. Cooperation and appreciation increased. According to Jeroen, that has been decisive for happiness at work in this period.
Financial benefit through “Return on Happiness”
Aareon is one of the first companies to use the newest function within 2DAYSMOOD: the “Return on Happiness” module.
“Financially driven people want to see the approach with 2DAYSMOOD reflected in figures. It also allows you to see the relationship between happiness and employee turnover.”
Jeroen Kuiper – Managing Director – Aareon
The ROH module provides insight into the effect of happy employees and a positive work climate on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the organization. For example, you can link staff turnover and absenteeism to the 2DAYSMOOD data to discover how those variables are related and which costs you can save.
Aareon discovered this, for example, in the corona period: “You see that people are happy, and that they are less likely to report sick as a result,” says Jeroen. He also understands the importance of this module for (top) managers. “Financially driven people want to be able to see the approach with 2DAYSMOOD reflected in figures. You can also see the relationship between happiness at work and (unwanted) outflow of employees. If you focus your change approach on this, you can save a lot of energy and costs with the help of the data and this tool. As a result of a pleasant, motivating work atmosphere, of course! ”
*The image below contains fictional data
Happiness at work is not a goal, but a result
At Aareon they have chosen not to make happiness at work a goal. It must be the result of a pleasant working atmosphere and culture, and that is what they continuously measure. “We can clearly see in the heat map whether the various drivers of happiness at work are green. We think that is the most important thing, and we steer towards it. This way we keep an eye on whether things are going well and where we can improve,” says Ria. Jeroen adds: “If the data goes into the red section, and people suffer a lot from stress, it will also affect you as a company. So we want to stay away from that.”
A look into the future: hybrid working at Aareon?
So what is the future for Aareon and how does 2DAYSMOOD help with that? “Now that we are in a new period, it is essential to look for the new normal. We would like to see what employees need when it comes to working from home and at the office,” says Ria. “We want to interview employees about this, so that we can really start a discussion.” Fortunately, 2DAYSMOOD has a survey that is perfect for this. This allows them to look at what employees like about working from home, what balance they like with “hybrid working” and what they need to stay motivated and productive.
Jeroen concludes: “2DAYSMOOD is so much more than just a pulse measurement. In fact, it is an HR solution and management tool. You not only get valuable data, but the interpretation of that data is also presented in an easy and structured way. With the heat map and the green and red colors you can clearly see what needs attention. That really helps.”