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Democo Group's Journey: Great Place To Work as a yearly strategic goal

Democo Group's Journey: Great Place To Work as a yearly strategic goal

Insight into Democo Group's Great Place To Work® Journey.

In the dynamic landscape of today’s business world, HR experts often struggle with the same challenges: high employee turnover, unfilled jobs, and the search for top talent. This challenge is not isolated, but aligns with two significant issues: the ongoing ‘war for talent’ and the emergence of gen Z.

The war for talent

In a fast-growing economy it is hard for companies to follow the demand of unique and advanced capacities to gain the competition edge. The heightened demand often surpasses the available supply of qualified individuals, while some of those talents are also not inclined to switch to the first employer that comes along. Winning the war on talent starts with delivering that exceptional employee experience and encouraging a culture of employee advocacy. Great Place To Work serves as a compass, helping organisations measure, celebrate, and inspire this employee experience.

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Adapting to the Gen Z mindset

The entry of Gen Z into the workforce adds a new layer of complexity for organisations. It is essential for them to be attuned to expectations and preferences of this technologically savvy generation, which holds distinct views on aspects as a purpose, job satisfaction and benefits. Addressing these shifts is paramount, given that employee experience has become a pivotal factor in this evolving landscape.

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Shaping employee experience

Establishing an exceptional workplace culture and experience is thé solution for both retaining existing employees and attracting new talent. The graduate report by Vlerick Business School reveals a compelling statistic: “79% of recent graduates would be more inclined to apply for a job with an organisation recognised as a good employer. The connection employees have with the values of the organisation is crucial. Their experience throughout their employee lifecycle influences their decision to stay.

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Now, let’s delve into a specific business case to understand how incorporating the voice of employees can make a significant difference within your company. Democo Group shared their experiences during a session on Employer Branding, hosted by VKW Limburg.

Navigating Democo Group's Journey to Great Place To Work: Unveiling the Steps to Success.

Step 1 (2018): How it all started - recognising the importance of employee input

Democo Group, a construction company and general contractor, embarked on a transformative journey with the aim to obtain the prestigious ‘Best Workplaces’ label. Realising that comprehensive engagement from the entire management was crucial, they initiated a transitional process within their HR strategy.

Their first step involved participating in the Great Place To Work (GPTW) survey via a baseline measurement. Although they initially didn't secure the certification label, they saw this as an opportunity to identify potential challenges within their HR initiatives. Open comments from the GPTW survey provided valuable insights into their employee experience, guiding them to prioritise within their HR policies. The company’s mantra became clear: "No HR project is complete without input and support from both management and employees."

Organising workshops with all employees became the next crucial move. Through collaborative focus groups, further insights were gained, and an action plan was formulated. For example: being closer to the employees by introducing HR Business Partners in the organisation. This marked the inception of their collective narrative, shaping the 'we' story that would define their organisational culture.

Step 2 (2020): Certification - celebrating efforts and emphasising internal communication

When they relaunched the survey in 2020, they saw an overall increase of 9% and officially earned recognition as a Great Place To Work. Upon achieving certification, Democo Group recognised the importance of acknowledging efforts. They celebrated the certification as a significant corporate milestone, emphasising the crucial role of internal communication.

Step 3 (2021): Best Workplace participation - a moment to celebrate admidst challenges

Democo Group’s journey reached a milestone as they re-obtained certification and went even further to secure the 5th position in the 'Large Companies' category of Best Workplaces, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. The organisation maintained a vibrant internal atmosphere, showcasing the positive vibe within the company.

Step 4 (2024): Time to celebrate again - continuous learning

As result of the company’s continuous efforts, its scores continue to increase and they proudly announce another re-certification. Time to celebrate again. This time, the journey focus on the shifts to continuous improvement, especially by enhancing opportunities for employees. Key to making this work is by looking for ongoing dialogue and employee central initiatives.

A noteworthy example that highlights the value of continuous improvement is the commitment to promote ongoing conversations. While a lot of companies have exit talks, asking employees why they decided to leave the company, Democo Group inverts this. They ask the question of why employees choose to stay within the company. By engaging in consistent, open dialogues, they gain valuable insights into the factors that contribute to employee retention and satisfaction.

Another example to stimulate the communication as well as employee wellbeing, is that they use “construction site barometers (werfbarometers)”. These tools allow employees to show how they feel on-site, whether this is impacted by what is going on in their professional or private life. This feedback mechanism not only gives an instant picture of well-being, but also creates a culture of continuous transparency and empathy by immediately addressing problems.

Their journey illustrates that organisations such as Democo Group no longer perceive Great Place To Work certification as a “nice to have” certification label and external tool; instead, it has evolved into an integral part of their corporate strategy. This integration aids in the prioritisation of HR objectives, allowing Great Place To Work to serve as a platform for targeted consulting and actionable solutions. In essence, Democo Group’s experience showcases how a commitment to employee well-being can lead to not only certification but also a thriving workplace culture. A true journey, for all.

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Legrand, V. & Buyens, D. (2023) THE CAREER PERSPECTIVES OF GRADUATES UPDATE 2023, Research report by Vlerick Business School
Salarisgids 2023-24, Brightplus, 2023