“Take Care Of Your Employees And They’ll Take Care Of Your Business” – I’m sure most of us are familiar with this quote from Richard Branson, founder of Virgin. The idea behind it is simple: create a place where people want to work, and your team will remain engaged, productive and happy.
A recent study from Gallup found that 70% of US employees are disengaged in the workplace costing up to $550 billion, quite shocking considering this is in the US alone. There’s a current trend of companies, especially startups, paying more attention to the wellbeing of staff, but is it enough?
EMPAUA was built with the purpose of tackling disengagement in the workplace. It’s important to us to create a workspace where team members are happy, comfortable and inspired. In this post we’ll go through exactly what this means for us.
Plenty of startups boast of being a ‘flat-hierarchy’, but more often than not, this starts and ends with sharing a desk with your manager. At most corporations, the authority is concentrated to a group of few hands, delegating to the rest of the company. We believe this means that employees are not required to think as much as they could, creating disengaged employees and higher staff turnovers.
At EMPAUA, everyone is encouraged to constantly grow, both on a personal and a professional level. We empower team members with responsibility – and they become challenged, motivated and engaged at work. We believe less talent and creativity is wasted this way than in traditional management structures. By placing leadership across a group of team members, we are able to get different perspectives on matters. We are able to make decisions together, learn from mistakes together and succeed together; creating a unique teamwork feeling.
Living our Values
In order to create a true team spirit, it is also essential that employees share the same vision. Our values help define who we are as a company. They help give us purpose when we come in to work everyday and remind us why we are doing what we’re doing. They’re also useful for measuring the fit of potential applicants.
At a previous company I worked at, the internal culture was lacking and employee satisfaction was down. Management suddenly deemed it necessary to create some internal values for the company and shipped the management team of 6 people off for an off-site weekend to define the company values for almost 200 people. I remember being somewhat displeased with my place at the company and even more unsatisfied when I was told what the companies values were, ones which certainly didn’t replicate the attitudes of the peers in my department.
At EMPAUA, the company values were created by the whole team and truly reflect how the whole company works together and feels. We don’t want anyone to impose a bunch of pseudo-values onto the team that sound great when you read them on a homepage. We think it’s important that our values indeed reflect the priorities of each and every team member for them to be able to live and breathe what the company stands for.
Many of these values are also expressed in the benefits we provide our employees with:
Perks that Benefit
“Free fruit”, “unlimited coffee”, “bean bags”: They don’t seem to really benefit employees, however these so called “perks” are seen in a large proportion of job ads at startups in 2018. As a matter of fact, we also have them at EMPAUA – but we don´t see them as the benefits that really matter. The perks that make us stand out make a real difference:
One of the pillars of EMPAUA’s purpose is to create the leaders of tomorrow. By this we mean that we’d like to create a place where team members constantly grow, professionally and personally. Taking on responsibility, making your own decisions, making mistakes and learning from them is all part of this process. We’re always promoting this and it’s reflected in the ecosystem that has grown since EMPAUA was founded. Four companies have been created from EMPAUA employees since its beginning 3 years ago. All four companies sit within the same coworking space. Having this entrepreneurial spirit in the office is something we find pretty inspiring.
Relaxed holiday policy
Virgin, Linkedin and Netflix are some of the companies that offer a more relaxed holiday policy. EMPAUA is also one of them: we focus on what we achieve, not how many hours we log in the process. As we let our team members decide on the amount of down-time they need, stress is minimised and productivity and creativity are improved. We realise that this requires a good bit of trust towards our employees – but we can rely on them to fulfil their tasks every day, why should we assume that they don’t show the same reliability when it comes to vacation planning?
Transparency in salary
A taboo in today’s world, employees in today’s economy are often discouraged from speaking with peers about salary. Why? Inconsistencies can create problems. How many people have become annoyed when learning of a peer’s higher salary for the same job? By utilising a transparent pay structure, these complexities are removed and employees are paid on merit, not negotiation skills with HR. Here at EMPAUA we propose our salaries to a panel based on industry rate, our experience and the contributions we make to the company. Thankfully, we avoid any dissatisfaction and frustration that often goes along with salaries at other companies. Other companies are leaning towards utilising transparent pay, perhaps most notably: Buffer, who even include their salaries on their website.
We have six office locations in four countries and team members from many different cultures and backgrounds. This itself represents a very enriching work environment already; but apart from that, every employee is encouraged to work from any other EMPAUA office for some time. These short and medium-term visits are facilitated by our very own internal AirBnB app that enables us to host team members from different offices. That way, it is very easy to broaden one’s horizon by spending time in another country, discovering another culture and make friendships with other team members.
We bond at work on our projects everyday. But we also believe that real bonding can happen outside the office too. This is why EMPAUA organises team retreats and events on a regular basis in order to create shared memories and to make our working experience together even better. Of course it is a risk spending money for the mere purpose of fun, even more so for a startup. Still, at EMPAUA, we think it would be an even bigger risk not to do it: It contributes to employee satisfaction, which is the key to commitment.
A company does not have to invest in employee development and happiness. But in our experience, it is more than worth it: at EMPAUA, we strive to provide an inspiring and motivating work environment, and we are rewarded with engagement and loyalty – powerful tools in achieving the best possible outcome for the company, employees and our customers.