How can we increase productivity while also making it possible to combine work with family or studying? Our management team asked itself this question in mid-2019. The result was a wide-ranging project that has now been implemented using structured processes.
“Last year we increasingly had the impression that our otherwise dynamic projects were becoming unnecessarily drawn out,” feels HR Manager Claudia Schallert. “We wanted to find out why so we talked to our thirty-five employees about what they needed in order to be able to work more productively.” The experience of recent years has shown how much better projects are when mixed teams work on them. For that reason, NOUS intends to increase the proportion of women in the technical section of the company from its current level of 30%.
Over the course of the conversations, it emerged that flexible working hours are not only important for the company’s employees with children. The majority wanted more time to fulfill responsibilities within their families, to further their studies, or to pursue personal interests. “We have some employees who are very sporty, while others compose music, take photographs, or write.”
Flexible working hours and more responsibility
As the management sets store by flat hierarchies and wanted to create good conditions so that their employees could work productively, a new home-working solution was developed. Every employee now has a certain number of days when they can work from home that they can allot freely—a change that facilitated an unproblematic transition during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Furthermore, creative parental leave solutions were developed that make it easier for mothers and fathers to return to work and nevertheless have enough time for their children. HR Manager Claudia Schallert herself benefited from this new parental leave solution. “Immediately after Mutterschutz (statutory maternity leave), I went back to work for a few hours a week. That meant that I could maintain contact with my colleagues and continue to supervise tasks in my department. And as my son got a bit older, I was able to gradually increase my working hours as it suited us as a family.”
These flexible working hours and parental leave models work well at NOUS because the employees are aware of the responsibility that goes along with them. So that the balancing act between work and private life is as easy as possible, the employees were given support with stress management and mindfulness, as well as commitment and leadership skills, in the form of workshops and where necessary, certain subjects were paid more attention in one-on-one coaching sessions.
No gender pay gap
In the course of this large-scale process, it was determined that salaries would be evaluated annually. “Employees who do not have the courage to ask for a pay rise are not left with nothing in our company. We regularly evaluate whether they are being paid in line with their responsibilities and performance. If we notice that their pay no longer reflects the effort they are putting in, we proactively increase their salaries,” according to HR Manager Claudia Schallert.
Structured onboarding and mentoring
To make joining the company easier for new employees, they are given a mentor for the onboarding stage. Checklists ensure that important information is passed on. “There is a structured process for their training that is organized via our ticketing system,” Claudia Schallert says. “That means that everyone always knows what needs to be done and nothing is forgotten.”
Continuous development through training
In order to remain on the ball in software and app development, continuous training is essential. Consequently, there is a set annual budget for training courses. Every employee can apply by submitting a proposal that explains how the course will help them with their job, how the company will benefit from it, and how they can share the knowledge they gain within the company.
Short daily meetings during which every employee sets an “objective for the day” ensure that colleagues keep in touch despite working flexible hours and/or from home. They also facilitate communication about the various projects and encourage colleagues to share their knowledge and experiences.
“We develop cool software with good usability and aesthetics. We can only achieve that with diverse teams that have an optimum framework for productive working,” is how CEO Raphael Schneeberger explains his motivations for the wide-ranging HR project.