One year ago, we were certified as a Great Place to Work®. What happened after that?
In today’s competitive job market companies need to do more than just offer a good salary to attract and retain top talent. There has never been a better time to surplus the company offers. Thinking about how we measure in job satisfaction of our people, and where we stand in our people’s minds just over a year ago, it-economics, together with the Sopra Steria Group, applied for an external examination. The people voted and the results showed that our people trust us, and we were certified as a Great Place to Work with an astonishing 92% of overall satisfaction and 96% of the participants sharing that it-economics Bulgaria is a great place to work.
Caring about people has always been in our culture. It is of utmost importance to create a positive workplace culture that fosters employee loyalty, engagement, and overall well-being. When employees feel that they are valued, secure, supported, and respected can lead to a range of benefits for all in the company structure.
However, not all results passed with flying colors. During analyzing and pulling insights from the data of the GPTW survey, came such findings that needed to be reviewed and acted upon. Very carefully thought through and organized, on the Group level, strategic implementation took place, which included:
- defining priority areas
- conducting several listening phases
- led workshops to understand why the results are what they are
- defining pillars of improvement (focus points)
- outlining an action plan.
So, what happened after that?
We went into motion. A motion to fill the gaps and create an even better Great Place to Work. Here are our focus points that needed improvement:
In the next paragraphs, is a summary of every aspect of our improvement. Why it was needed, and how it is implemented.
One major insight from the process was that our people would like to have more benefits coming to work for it-economics. IT companies in Bulgaria are largely reliant on great benefit systems for their employees. And this is an expectation from any new joiner and loyal employee. We put great importance on the feel-good factor, which is why our benefits are already top-range, premium conditions. To name a few – 26 days paid vacation, 10 training days, up to 12 One Team days, a Lux Package of Health insurance, Life insurance, Team buildings in Germany and Bulgaria, and German lessons. Our company realized the need to stay competitive in the market. It was decided to add to the extensive list of benefits, an increased amount of food vouchers for every employee.
Additional benefits have also been identified and agreed upon and are in the backlog of our plan.
People should feel comfortable voicing concerns, asking questions, and contributing their ideas. It builds trust and enables team collaboration. It also helps employees to feel more connected to their work, their colleagues, and the company’s mission and goals.
Therefore, we aimed to foster multidimensional communication – from the company to the employee, from the employee to the company, and between the employees. One important thought shared here was the lack of transparency therefore we changed the format to give the people more info about what is happening in the company on regular basis. A delightful upgrade from the standard Excel graphs. We also created a new communication channel, where we share and upload valuable updates. One major idea emerged, and it was implemented – The projects board. Since our company’s business is projects based our employees needed A: What projects we currently work on and B: who works where. The simple board provided for the people to know each other and to spark a conversation. All this is to help stay on track with the company agenda and promote collaboration, open brainstorming, and support for each other.
Another line of communication means was built for feedback practices. The feedback should be an authentic review (not a political tool) for developing our employees. Thus far, we have introduced a new way of feedback gathering and are working toward communicating it regularly to the employee and making them more aware of every aspect of their work from different perspectives.
Within the communication pillar, our colleagues worked and gave ideas for recognition, celebration, and even donation for the group’s success.
One of the greatest challenges of an employer is to perfect the onboarding process and make the people feel right at home when starting new jobs. How many times have we all thought “oh, this is not going to work” in the first few days or weeks of work? When new hires receive a positive onboarding experience, they’re more likely to feel satisfied with their job and have a more positive attitude toward their work.
Setting the right expectations, making people feel valued, demonstrating how important they are being here, and thanking them for their choice of employer is an art, that is not easily mastered. Our people masters are already in the process of implementing mechanisms such as dedicating onboarding buddies, freeing up space and time for our team members to onboard new team members, designating space for useful links, contact persons, knowledge base, and many more to set our employees up for success and help them achieve their full potential.
The active participation of it-economics employees in the implementation of ideas in the Trust Working Group is leading to the creation of a more cohesive workspace. First and foremost, the group is working to refine the flexible working model, new to most of us but increasingly important and necessary to maintain a good work-life balance. Aspects of it included conducting distance learning courses and seminars, offline meetings (as we are increasingly seeing it as a concept) or working from the office. The flexible working model is here to stay, it is very much encouraged but needed to be regulated.
Secondly, the group worked towards more trust through employee engagement and interaction via dedication to special activities that bring the team together. Examples of these are activities of both charitable and celebratory nature, games, with or without a competitive element, sporting events, joint trips, workshops, etc.
Thirdly, the Trust Group is working towards more employee appreciation and satisfaction by celebrating anniversaries, and all kinds of successes, on personal and/or collective levels. We aimed to organize both standardized gifts, as an expression of appreciation, and the use of purely motivational incentives such as kudos, virtual cards, medals, or just a public “Thank you!”.
The Pride priority area was identified to prime the feeling of the job well done, the excitement, loyalty, accomplishments, and the meaning of work. Our colleagues focused on contributing to developing the community of growing knowledge and experience via offering a junior training program. The training program ended on a high note, and we now have an internal tool to administer reports.
During the listening phase, it was recognized the need for it-economics to become more visible in the Bulgarian market as an excellent employer. The effort in this direction resulted in building partnerships with different organizations and media for more exposure and reasons of pride. For this, but also recruitment, presence, and differentiation reasons, we, as a Nearshore office have our own website and a premium account in one of the largest IT job boards.
To top it all up, we took a drone-flown one-shot Employer Branding video, organized a charity campaign, and got featured as a successful Bavarian company in Bulgaria. All of which raised our social media presence.
We all know and must acknowledge; all of this was possible because of our culture. To put this into a perspective, we aim for a positive influence (within the company). We uphold a positive work environment. We put support systems and other mechanisms that allow employees the opportunity to empower themselves and flourish. We know how to increase the people’s effectiveness as well as that of the organization. These are just to name of few of the reinforcement our team influences on. Showing genuine interest and concern, consistently demonstrating competence and trustworthiness, being authentic, and continuously showing credibility and integrity is the key to successfully caring for people and creating a positive influence.
We believe that positive influence is essential in the workplace. Not only because it has a significant impact on employee morale, and productivity but more importantly, influences mental health and well-being. When employees work in a positive environment, they are less likely to experience stress and burnout. It also leads to better problem-solving and more innovative ideas. The people at it-economics have always been and will continue to be the driving force behind the organization’s performance and productivity. Not the numbers. And when the approach is people-first (not numbers-first), then a more positive and fulfilling work environment is achieved. For 2023, our plan is to care as much or even more about people. We are very much looking forward to creating more positive influence together. And as always, we are happy to take more people in, because great people make great places to work.