Building a sustainable organization from the ground up
The statement “Our employees are our most valuable asset” may have been watered down. Just the same, in most organizations, the people really are the most valuable asset. Their engagement and satisfaction are crucial to productivity and profitability.
Of course, what makes individuals thrive in their work varies immensely. However, employee satisfaction generally goes beyond good wages and benefits, which is especially true in the younger age brackets. In surveys, things such as employer values, development opportunities as well as creative and dynamic environment increasingly place high in the results.
Recruitment process crucial
As the fight for talent intensifies, employer branding and companies’ recruitment processes are vital. If you are careless about your recruiting – not paying enough attention to what motivates people and not finding the right match between your company culture and peoples’ drivers – you might end up with people who aren’t thriving, which will affect the business.
In the last couple of years, Axis has hired around 500 persons yearly. It’s a long and winding road, starting with some 2,000 interviews. “Based on our core values and our company culture, we pay very close attention to this process,” says Malin Svensson, Chief People Officer. “It’s not enough that an applicant has the right qualifications. It must be the right person.”
So, who is the right person? Malin smiles: “It must be an Axis person.”
A strong company culture
While it may sound self-explanatory, if you would walk into various Axis offices around the world, it would probably strike you that there is a common thread. There are shared common values across the organization.
“Axis’ core values have been strong from the start; how we cooperate, work, share, develop, and so on,” Malin says. “The values link closely to our vision, and together they lay the foundation for people’s behavior, and consequently, our company culture.”
Axis’ strong company culture is often considered to be one of the key reasons behind the company’s success. Openness, transparency, trust, ambition, and teamwork are pillars of this culture.
“Our company culture emphasizes cooperation and working together to deliver something good,” says Malin. “Ultimately, it’s about delivering high-quality products and solutions to our customers, but it also connects to sustainability and doing something good for society.”
So, when Malin talks about an “Axis person”, it’s someone who brings that culture and those core values out in society. It’s not something that you leave behind when you leave work for the day.
Diversity benefits many aspects of the company
You might argue that looking for “Axis persons” doesn’t seem much like championing diversity and non-discrimination, which are top Axis CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) priorities. But it’s not about finding people cast in the same mold.
“To get a healthy work environment based on diversity, you must have a broader perspective. Gender, culture, age, and so on are all part of who we are as humans and what we contribute to the company work atmosphere. Combined with experience and knowledge, they form the mix of what will significantly benefit the company’s ability to innovate, productivity, attractive force, and success.”
Our company culture emphasizes cooperation and working together to deliver something good
Axis works to promote and drive diversity in several ways. “For example, we put a lot of effort into the wording of our job advertisements to attract a broader group, not just one specific type of applicants,” Malin explains.
Axis has several initiatives in place to attract more women to the company. These include manager training, inspiring teenagers to choose the engineering career in general and Axis in particular, and connecting with young women at university engineering faculties.
Surveys could support the retention efforts
While the recruitment process is crucial to attracting the right talent, it’s also necessary to put in the work to develop and retain employees. Surveys are one tool to measure employee engagement and satisfaction.
Pontus Nilsson, Regional HR Manager, Axis Middle Europe, explains the importance of getting feedback that will help the organization improve as an employer. Their last three surveys have been conducted by Great Place to Work (GPTW), a global company that helps organizations evaluate and develop their workplaces.
“In our region, they are a powerful brand,” Pontus says. “Getting their evaluation and ‘Best Workplace’ recognition is a significant asset in our employer branding and helps us attract the right talent. During interviews, candidates often mention that they have seen our GPTW recognition.”
Named on best workplace list
The GPTW brand is also well-known in France. During 2019, pilot surveys were conducted in France as well as in the other two Axis Southern European countries, Spain and Italy, in preparation for a comprehensive GPTW employee survey in 2020.
“Our objective is to be GPTW certified,” says Regional HR manager Cecilia Zavaleta. “It will facilitate recruitment, especially when candidates are not familiar with Axis. The pilot was very well received, with a high answering rate. The respondents are full of expectation to see the results and to start working on the action plans.”
Axis Canada is also working with GPTW. And the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion has paid off. Malin says that in January, the Canadian team was named on the GPTW list of Best Workplaces for Inclusion. “It’s fantastic to see, and we are so proud of our team in Canada,” she says. “In 2019, more than 95 percent of the employees felt that they were treated fairly, regardless of age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and gender. To be included on the list, at least 90 percent of the employees must agree that they are being treated fairly.”
Initiatives to boost work-life balance
Axis’ company culture is an employer branding advantage, Pontus points out: “Especially in Germany, being a Swedish company is an advantage. Our staff appreciates that we’re a flat organization where flexibility and trust are top priorities.”
Having initiatives in place to improve employees’ work-life balance is getting increasingly important for global companies. Especially younger job applicants and employees rank flexibility highly. Axis Middle Europe has a mobile work policy to provide a flexible working environment that supports a sound work-life balance for all employees. Employees can, in agreement with their manager, choose a flexible workplace for one day each week.
“In a big city such as Munich, where many employees have a long daily commute, this is a great help,” Pontus says. “For employees with a family and children in daycare or school, this makes life easier.”
Other initiatives at the Munich office include installing a shower, which can be used by employees who bicycle to work or want to go jogging during the lunch break. Axis also subsidizes employees that wish to exercise.
The onboarding process is essential to make new Axis employees both understand and feel the company culture and how it affects behavior. All newly employed, regardless of position, or where you are based, get to visit Axis HQ in Lund, Sweden, for three days. The program includes workshops, presentations, activities, and meetings, and you also get to meet many colleagues and top managers in the global organization.
If you build a strong company culture based on sound values, it’s something that the employees will bring out in their society to facilitate change
Cecilia says that the onboarding process is a real asset for local Axis organizations. “It’s unique and very well received by our employees,” she says. “It’s important that everyone gets the same introduction and the same treatment. Regardless of your position, you feel like a contributor. Everyone gets the opportunity to meet our CEO Ray Mauritsson and other members of the top management team.”
Drive positive change
Summing up, Malin says, “As we see it, companies have an obligation as well as a great opportunity to drive positive changes and improvements in society through your business as well as your CSR work.”
It may, for example, mean driving changes to improve inclusion and diversity, but also impact working conditions. “If you build a strong company culture based on sound values, you will attract people with the same values, who want to do the right thing, both within the company and in society,” Malin says.