If you’ve read the very first article from the blog, you already know that I wanted to set up a healthy environment. One way to judge whether Catalysts has achieved that goal is to look at how many days our team members are sick.
At Catalysts we have 3.6 days for sick leaves per person per year. Companies of similar size (between 101 and 250 employees) typically have close to 4% absence (number of days absent divided by 365). We are better by a factor of 4 (3.6 / 365 = 0.99%).
Let’s look at another aspect: mental stress. In Austria, it’s compulsory to evaluate mental stress at the workplace (see Arbeitsinspektorat). We have done so in 2016 for the group of people who face the highest level of stress at work, our team leaders. Under the guidance of an external industrial psychologist, we went through an evaluation process:
- Presentation of the overall plan and discussion about the approach with senior management
- Announcement to the general team, including some background information
- Online survey among our team leaders utilizing a standardized questionnaire and TeamEcho as the survey tool
- Screening of the survey results by the industrial psychologist
- Detailed analysis of the results and 4 hours workshop with the team leaders, creation of a detailed results protocol
- Presentation of the results protocol to senior management
- Workshop to work out detailed tasks and action items to improve the situation, moderated by the industrial psychologist
The online survey highlighted three potentially dangerous areas:
- When working on my own tasks I get interrupted again and again.
- I am frequently under time pressure
- I have too much work.
During the detailed analysis in the workshop with the team leaders, however, the finding was that our team leaders don’t perceive their situation as associated with negative stress.
Question: “Would you want to have fewer interruptions?”
Answer: “No, I like it when my team members approach me. Because that’s typically when they need my help to get a problem solved. Any further delay would be negative. If I need to focus on a task and not be disturbed, I’ll just hide somewhere.”
The final statement from the industrial psychologist was fully positive: “That’s a premiere for me. There is no area where I’d suggest an intervention – don’t change anything, just keep everything as it is.”
It is one thing to establish a healthy environment – but equally important to maintain it. Whenever there is anything disturbing, it shouldn’t get unnoticed and there should be an easy way to point it out. With our Desk Rotation system, I (and my colleagues from the management team) happen to sit in the same room with everybody over time. Additionally, we have our weekly General Meetings with an open Q&A session. And of course, everybody can put an anonymous letter into our company mailbox. So my understanding has always been that it’s easy to get attention on a topic. Wrong assumption.
Two years ago, we started to use TeamEcho. On Monday morning, every team member receives an email with a link to an online survey with 2-3 short questions from a catalog with 30 questions and 6 categories like Feelings at Work, General Wellbeing & Health, Work Task, Working Conditions, Organisation Climate, and Identification with the Company. Every team member selects a value from 1 to 5 for each question and TeamEcho immediately visualizes the results.
Additionally, everybody can leave textual comments, remarks, questions.
And other team members, team leaders, and senior management can comment on those points:
Life hazards like having no water can quickly be addressed and resolved 😉
But seriously, TeamEcho provides every team member with a perfectly anonymous feedback channel. Since its introduction we’ve seen much more feedback coming in. More points being addressed – and most importantly – being resolved within a few hours.
I’ve always known that it’s important to collect feedback. But it wasn’t obvious to me that actively asking for feedback on a weekly basis is necessary. And I underestimated the importance of perfect anonymity.
Openness, a lot of feedback, attention to details, and quick response seem to be very important to maintain a healthy environment.
(full disclosure: Catalysts is a shareholder of TeamEcho, so if you happen to become a happy customer of TeamEcho, it would also benefit Catalysts a little)