There’s a lot written about employee engagement and we could simply tell you all the theory, but at Zapiens we prefer to give you a quick summary: happy people work more comfortably.

Here we could talk about the importance of the emotional wage, but that is another debate. Perhaps in a future post 😉.

The point is that there are small actions that have a direct impact on happiness at work, and many of them do not involve an economic investment.

In other words, they are within the reach of any organization that is concerned with promoting a business culture based on people.

What employee engagement is (this is how we see it in Zapiens)

If we get technical, employee engagement measures the emotional bond people have with the company they work for. This includes terms such as motivation, fulfillment, happiness at work and feeling of belonging.

We can also talk about talent retention, although we understand it more as attraction. Put into practice, our philosophy is very simple: stay at Zapiens as long as you learn and are happy.

That’s why at Zapiens we don’t talk about staff, but about being a tribe.

When someone joins our team, we want them to be comfortable and willing to be their best selves. Without that motivation it’s impossible to move forward, and we hate to stand still!

Yes, it’s a stock photo. We’re not that good-looking and we don’t have that window. Besides, team photos are complicated for us as we are a remote company… but you get the idea, don’t you?  

Some measures to enhance employee engagement (examples)

At least, that’s what we do at Zapiens:

Flexibility in location and schedules

At Zapiens we work remotely. Our heart is in Somiedo (Asturias) and we are a village startup.

So some people connect from rural areas, but we also have urbanites in Madrid or Barcelona, and of course people outside Spain, in Germany, France or Portugal. That allows us to access talent, wherever it is, without forcing people to relocate.

It doesn’t matter if we work in different time zones. We have 100% freedom of schedule as long as the team organization meetings and deadlines are met. Beyond that: your schedule, your rules!

Vacations and holidays, free

If you live in Gijón and your partner works in Oviedo, which local holiday interests you most? In Zapiens we don’t care. Here you have your days off to your liking.

And the same goes for vacations: everyone plans their breaks as they wish. As long as you organize yourself and don’t dump problems on your teammates, it’s good enough for us.

Personal and work conciliation

At Zapiens we attach great importance to conciliation because we know that it is essential for people’s stability. That’s why we give total freedom of schedule and location so that conciliation can be real.

And we understand personal circumstances. It is not so rare that one of the little ones of the family appears to greet us on camera when we are in a meeting…

Drink your coffee at ease

We have extended the daily rest time (from 15 minutes per agreement to half an hour) because we have found that these short breaks increase productivity.

Continuous learning

It’s one of Zapiens’ foundations, how can we not take it into account? Each member of our tribe has four hours a week to invest in training.

Depending on the needs, we always try to have some option available to take advantage of that time. For example, right now we have English classes available for the whole team, and very soon Portuguese classes as well.

In addition, if there is any external training that someone from the tribe finds appealing and that will improve their knowledge and help them continue growing professionally, we can consider financing it.

We take care of mental health

We were talking before about how employee engagement has to do with happiness, and for that you have to take care of people’s mental and emotional health.

We have agreements with different professionals to offer coaching and psychology services. The sessions are totally confidential (we don’t even know who is asking for them and who isn’t) and free for all the members of the tribe.

Peace of mind. Peace of mind is what we are most looking for. (Via Giphy)

Everyone is part of the tribe

At Zapiens we work with different collaboration models, from employment contracts to specific agreements with freelancers, who work by the hour or by project.

But when it comes to accessing all the services on this list, there is no distinction: everything is for everyone. Once you’re on the list, you’re a full member. We don’t have first and second class partners.

The challenge of working remotely

There’s no denying it: working in an office livens up your day. Saying good morning, commenting on the news, having coffee with someone from the department next door… At Zapiens we are great advocates of working remotely, but we also see that disconnection is a risk. 

Employee engagement involves working on the cohesion of work groups, a challenge that is multiplied when you don’t see your teammates in person. 

So we have several options to enhance personal relationships:

Daily meetings

They can be daily, every two days or directly when needed. Each team organizes itself as it wishes. But it is important to have regular meetings to see each other’s faces, organize the work and make sure we are rowing in the same direction.

Do not misunderstand this, we don’t waste time either, and we hate those meetings that go on forever because everyone is doing their own thing. With twenty minutes/half an hour we are on the move.

Coffee and cakes

Once a week, our daily meeting becomes an informal meeting where there is only one rule: it is forbidden to talk about work.

We don’t always succeed (we like what we do, and we like to talk about it), but we do take advantage of it to get to know each other better and catch up on personal developments.

Virtual Freehouse

In our internal Teams there is a virtual space that we call Freehouse: a meeting point to relax and interact.

The original Freehouse was our physical office, a connection point for the whole tribe. Now that everyone works at home (or wherever they want), it is still our symbol of unity.

When someone has free time they can peek into one of the rooms: the living room, the kitchen, the garden or the garage. If the camera is on, anyone can come by and say hello.

Learning Fridays

Once a week we have an online meeting for the whole company. We take this opportunity to inform about the news, solve doubts, talk about what is needed and close the week with a few musical minutes (sometimes we even dance).

Once a year, the whole tribe goes to Asturias

The Internet is great, really… but from time to time face to face contact is necessary.

Once a year we organize a team building to devirtualize ourselves and have some ciders together (or whatever we have at hand).

It seems that in 2020, COVID will not make it possible… but this only makes us look forward to the next one!

Not one question left unanswered

Zapiens is a tool for knowledge management, for questions and answers, and we are very clear that the information flow is essential for the proper functioning of any team.

We don’t want anyone to have any doubts about how and why things work in this company, so we have several ways to achieve it:

Direct communication

At Zapiens we organize our work through Teams and we make the most of individual chats, because you have direct contact with anyone from the tribe.

An intern can write directly to the CEO, if (s)he wants to… He’s busy, but he always replies.  

Fuckups & Happy

It is a shared document in which each person contributes their learning or experiences of the day. And above all if it has made you happy (happy) or not (fuckup). The rest of the team can give feedback, of course.

It’s a great way to detect if everything is going well or if there is a problem brewing… and also to let off steam! Whether it’s good, bad or regular, communicating it makes you feel much better.

What kind of mood are you in today? (Via Giphy)

Ask Zap

Do the high school philosophy classes ring a bell? Socrates is Zapiens’ leading philosopher and his “I only know that I know nothing” is one of the most repeated phrases in our daily lives.

Zap is our “dumb” chatbot and we love it: the best thing is that it knows it doesn’t know. You can ask it whatever you want and, if it doesn’t have the answer, it’s not ashamed to admit it and find someone who does… and save it for next time.

This way we centralize all the information in one place and we don’t have anyone answering the same thing over and over again.

Cheese, euro, fuet

Curiosity has to be encouraged, because we have discovered something very sad: some people cut themselves off when it comes to asking questions.

Perhaps they are afraid that other people will think badly, they think it is something they should already know, or they are embarrassed to ask.

At Zapiens we have gamified the questions with “Cheese, euro, fuet”. If you ask or answer a question at our Learning Friday meeting, you can take one of those three things with you.

Open Space

Also in our Learning Friday meetings there is always an open mic space. Here you can ask questions to the team leaders, congratulate or thank others for their work or, of course, express a complaint or an improvement proposal.

Have we given you any ideas on how to improve
employee engagement in your company?

We sincerely hope so.

It’s not that we achieve perfection at Zapiens, don’t you believe that. Like every group, we have our challenges! But we are actively working so that any member of our tribe can work happily.

For us employee engagement is not about the actions, but about results. The work pace here is very, very fast, and we need the total involvement of the team so that Zapiens can offer our clients the results they need. 

And so employee engagement is no longer a nice and theoretical concept, but something much deeper: how do you make everybody feel they are in the right place, doing the right job?

In the end, isn’t that what life is all about? 🙃

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