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Pioneers of Trust: Unique

Pioneers of Trust: Unique

Meet Unique

The glue that makes Unique stick: Teamwork, Growth, and Moxie.

For nine consecutive years, staffing solutions expert Unique Belgium has been dedicated to its Great Place To Work journey. In doing so, they not only demonstrate an unwavering commitment to creating an exceptional workplace, but also put their own GROW (Guts, Results, Ownership, Working together) mindset to the test. In 2019, their efforts were recognised when Unique was named a Great Place To Work for the first time. By 2024, Unique reached new heights, securing the 4th spot among medium-sized organisations on Belgium’s Best Workplaces list. An Aelbrecht, Managing Director, and Jasper Verbraeken, Business Manager from Unique Leuven, shed light on how Unique’s GROW values are not just a catchy acronym, but the heart of their journey to employee trust. A journey that has been widely recognised.

Navigating a VUCA World through boldness and determination

"Consistently being recognised as a Great Place To Work reflects our enduring commitment to a culture of trust and employee well-being," An begins. She highlights the role this recognition plays in strengthening client relationships. "It serves as a seal of credibility, fortifying our client partnerships.” With 94% of their employees feeling that Unique is a Great Place To Work , this seal is indeed rock solid. “We've seen concrete improvements in client retention and referrals, essential in the competitive and volatile recruitment sector."

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An also emphasises the need for decisive leadership in today's VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) landscape. “Determination is key for leaders and their teams to navigate volatile markets with agility and precision," she asserts. Jasper praises An’s bold and determined approach, saying, “Our management steps out of their comfort zone by embracing innovation and taking calculated risks. Their fearless attitude is contagious: it empowers us to express bold ideas and take initiative.” He adds, “At Unique, courage is not just supported; it's celebrated."

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Building bonds: The power of inclusive teamwork

Courage is not the only thing celebrated at Unique. “We celebrate all achievements, big or small, and genuinely value our employees' ideas and input,” An explains. This approach fosters a culture where employees feel seen and valued, reinforcing camaraderie across the organisation. Camaraderie, unsurprisingly, is the company’s strongest survey domain with a score of 94%. “ We cultivate an inclusive and positive atmosphere, enhanced by regular teambuilding activities that strengthen our bonds and deepen the trust between us,” Jasper adds.

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An has discovered that fostering a sense of belonging is pivotal for employee engagement and satisfaction. “Our employees frequently come together to brainstorm, problem-solve, and innovate, demonstrating that collective wisdom and creativity surpass the capabilities of any individual,” she observes. “This team cohesion not only drives our success but also strengthens the bonds among team members, contributing to a supportive and dynamic work environment.” She concludes that collaborative leadership is crucial, as no one wins alone. Jasper shares this sentiment: “Teamwork? That’s the glue that holds everything together. Our leaders actively encourage an open, collaborative space where everyone’s input is valued.”

Strengthening Employee voices and weakening management distance

Unique's approachable management style plays a critical role in ensuring every team member's input is valued. An states, “I make sure that team members feel comfortable sharing their concerns and ideas.” Jasper supports this, emphasising the importance of leaders being relatable and ensuring mutual respect. Values like integrity, transparency, respect and accessibility are central to Unique’s leadership approach , which scores 93%. It’s no wonder An deems active listening as one of the most important tasks to create a Great Place To Work culture. She believes that understanding and acting on employee feedback is essential for continuous improvement. “Responding to our team’s input not only addresses their concerns but also strengthens our culture of respect and trust,” she explains. This approach contributed to Unique’s recognition as a ‘Best Workplace’ in 2023, thanking Great Place To Work to aid them in speaking the employees’ language.

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“Our flat organisational structure facilitates open, transparent, and bidirectional communication.”, Jasper says. Regular meetings between managers and teams enhance this, allowing for an effective exchange of ideas and feedback. An adds, “We prioritise open communication channels at all levels, building a foundation of trust.” Their communication strategy extends beyond conventional methods. “We conduct annual visits to each of our 80 teams to understand their experiences and challenges”, An explains. This optimises Unique’s strategic and operational planning, which, in return, contributes to creating a deeper connection with employees and enhancing overall well-being.

Investing in people returns the investment

At Unique, the well-being and development of employees are top priorities. They invest heavily in their growth, as An highlights: “We offer continuous learning opportunities to support their career advancement. This not only boosts their skills and productivity but also builds trust by showing our genuine interest in their personal and professional growth.” Jasper agrees, “There’s a substantial investment in team development, aiding each member’s professional evolution.” This investment is translated into a well-deserved Trust score of 90%.

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Their approach surpasses traditional training. “As leaders, we actively engage in mentoring and coaching our staff. This hands-on involvement in their career paths shows our deep commitment to valuing our people as our greatest asset ,” An elaborates. Each year, around 40 employees, or 15% of their workforce, engage in career advancement journeys. Jasper shares his personal experience: “Starting as a consultant in June 2021, I benefited from Unique’s investment in my potential, leading to my current role as Business Manager in Leuven.” This focus on nurturing talent internally has led to 80% of their managerial roles being filled through internal promotions, and their voluntary turnover rate has dropped from 18.5% to 10.8%. An points out that the Great Place To Work recognition is also crucial in talent management, since it’s a sign for a supportive work environment. “This reputation is vital in attracting new talent and retaining our valued team members.” 

"This hands-on involvement in their career paths shows our deep commitment to valuing our people as our greatest asset."

Dodging the pitfalls of uniqueness with grace and Great Place To Work's help

With a company name like Unique, it’s easy to set yourself up for failure. However, the company established a truly unique workplace, with a nod to Great Place To Work for playing a key role. The Great Place To Work certification has been more than just a boost for their employer branding. It has provided Unique with invaluable insights into their personnel management, stressing the critical role of trust in creating a strong community of employees. “Trust, empowerment, and a deep sense of community are so ingrained in our culture that they naturally influence our work approach, leadership style, and even our impact on the world,” An reflects. Jasper concludes fittingly, “Being part of Unique has made me its ambassador, not just in my professional life but personally as well.”

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