Royal HaskoningDHV has 5,700 employees worldwide, spread over 30 countries; about half of these employees work in or from the Netherlands. We provide services in the fields of aviation, buildings, energy, industry, infrastructure, maritime, mining, transport, urban and rural development and water.

A works council consisting of 13 members has been established for Royal HaskoningDHV Nederland. Specific committees have been established for each of the Business Lines and for the joint Corporate Groups.

Motive: good advice

We were not specifically looking for new ways to talk to our employees. During a training course on professionalizing the Works Council, Winfried Bouts of the WissemaGroup drew our attention to the CircleLytics tool (at the time still under the name CouncilWise). We are continuously working on the further professionalization of the Works Council and contacts with constituents are an important part of this. The CircleLytics online dialogues enable us to improve our effectiveness in contacting constituents.

Anonymous, broadly applicable and based on equality

In addition to the online dialogues, we send out a Works Council news flash every 6 weeks in which we report on the subjects that the Works Council has been working on. We also have intranet pages with all kinds of information about the Works Council. In addition, we publish the reports of the Works Council meetings and the advice and consent letters on this page. And, we regularly organize on-site constituency meetings and attend advisory group meetings. The committees are also an important link in our contact with the constituents; they collect input from the workplace for their consultations with the Business Line management. The online dialogues are, however, anonymous, everyone from the relevant target group can participate on an equal basis, and they also listen to each other in the 2nd round. This is another level of communication and interaction with the constituency.

How do you apply CircleLytics’ dialogue?

We try to use the dialogues once a month to discuss a current theme or a spearhead of the Works Council. Or we choose a theme that has been suggested by employees in previous dialogues. In other words, with each dialogue they can draw our attention to subjects that may have a broader impact. We set up this monthly dialogue among employees in the Netherlands. Or, where necessary or convenient, we launch a specific topic among a certain group of employees (for example, per Business Line). You can also set up dialogues among all employees and then make all kinds of breakdowns. Because not all employees in the Netherlands speak Dutch, the dialogues are bilingual: in Dutch and in English.

We share the top five results of the dialogues in the Works Council Newsflash. We discuss these top five with our management and the relevant persons/units (for ex., the Corporate Group Communications & Brand or Human Resources Management).  The content and timing of the dialogues is also coordinated in advance with Communications & Brand; we all have our own responsibilities and want to keep each other informed, also because the company conducts surveys among employees.

The results of the dialogues are discussed during Works Council meetings and consultation meetings with the Executive Board and – if relevant – in the consultation with the Supervisory Board.

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What do the dialogues get you ?

 These dialogues:

  • will give the Works Council much greater legitimacy in bringing issues to the attention of management and will ensure that there is greater support for the Works Council’s views. The results will help us to have an (even) better discussion with management about the choices we need to make regarding the future of Royal HaskoningDHV.
  • will ensure that the Works Council is better informed of what is going on in the organization.
  • increase employee engagement, both with the organization and the participation process. It also increases inclusiveness within the organization
  • will lead to informed, good conversations with management and HR.

High appreciation of employees

In general, the employees appreciate the tool. This is evident from the high level of participation and the high rating of the tool, which is asked at the end.

We also receive reactions as a result of the dialogues, which show that topics are being discussed and are starting to become (even) more alive in the organization.

The organization’s potential is surfacing

The results of these dialogues make the Works Council a fully-fledged discussion partner because we know very well what is going on in the organization. The results also underpin and strengthen our views, giving management a clear idea of what is going on. Furthermore, by using CircleLytics, the potential knowledge present in the organization is much better utilized. Based on the results of the dialogues, management and the works council can better assess the impact of the choices that are made and, as a result, the decision-making process of the management and works council is strengthened.

And besides: it’s just fun to do!!!

Rules. Which ones really hinder employees, do we understand why, and can we solve them? How do you as a works council, HR, manager or CEO ensure that employees actively think about this, come up with ideas and help set priorities? After all, they know exactly what it is that frustrates them every day.

I remember a lecture on Mintzberg and the usefulness of bureaucracy to manage chaos in growing organizations. Today, it is thought that we need to be flexible, embrace bottom-up decision-making, servant leadership and agility precisely because markets are so fickle. Onward! Right? Down with rules, then? Freedom and trust so we can be creative and solve problems together? As Seth Godin pointed out in his book and TED talk Tribes, people are most easily led in the direction they always wanted to go. In a McKinsey study on stability versus agility, the authors state that modern leadership is the art of removing procedures, structures, and rules that get in the way of change, and keep what is needed.

And which rules and procedures should remain? Which ones are in the way of people changing in a direction they have wanted to go for a long time? By the way, did you know that a LinkedIn study once showed that people would rather have more influence on how they can do their work than a 20% increase in salary?

The remarkable thing is that we don’t really appreciate change. At least, not if we have no influence on it, have no part in it, or have no co-ownership of it. We shy away from change when we have no role in it, according to, for example, research from the American Psychology Association on Well-Being. Stress increases as employees see the values they implicitly live and work by threatened. And vice versa. Values are therefore smarter to deploy than rules! Netflix discovered this much earlier. They follow a very simple rule: Avoid Rules! People over Process! However, a close examination reveals that Netflix only allows rules if something can lead to irreversible damage. Netflix apparently allows a margin of error, so to speak, to learn. Fail fast often is what start-ups and gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk sometimes say. So do we. And rules hold back this learning process.

In his book Doorbreek uw bedrijfscultuur (Break through your company culture), Rudy Snippe talks about the self-referential ability of organizations. They maintain their own system, and rules, and confirmative bias ensures that people are mainly open to signals that confirm them right and do not threaten their already existing perception or views. Managers or employees who say: “this is the way it has to be, because those are the rules, don’t ask me why” or “it doesn’t work that way here” are not wanted by anyone, except your competitor. Well, not even them..

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There is evidence that €5 billion of administrative burden is wasted in the healthcare sector in the Netherlands alone. It’s quite bold to state that this ‘can therefore be scrapped’, because rules also provide structure, support accountability and make risks transparent and manageable. And last but not least, the legislator also wants to see all kinds of things complied with, such as requirements for a license, tender, etc.

Do we leave it at that? No, definitely not. What if you had a smart dialogue twice a year and asked your employees which rule they think could be abolished and why? What if you could let employees respond to each other’s ideas, and you would know which ones could potentially be abolished, and more importantly, why? What if you also asked which rule allows them to do their work in a stable and structured way?

One of our clients tackled the ‘rules’ topic by simply asking its employees (nearly 3,000 employees) to name rules that only bother them and the organization and do not benefit the client. The outcome was clear and could be divided into:

1 rules that hinder employees from doing their jobs and unexplainably still exist;

2 rules that are inconvenient, but serve a purpose;

3 rules that need to be looked at more seriously but have the appearance of not being so.

Anything under 1 can be simplified or removed after further analysis. Note the chain effect: ask the question where the rule got its origin. Do we still understand if the rule is outdated and unnecessary? Conduct further dialogue in a small(er) group if necessary.

Anything under 2 is explained in more detail. Apparently, the main thing you need to make clear to employees is that these rules exist and why compliance is necessary. Realize that they apparently didn’t know that. Therefore, go over why they didn’t know that? Why are there rules that are unknown, untrained, and/or untraceable? You can also train important rules smartly with groups of employees via dilemmas. Contact us if this appeals to you.

Finally, anything that falls under 3 should be analysed more closely. You can have deeper dialogues with the group that identified these rules to clarify what to do with them. Again, what is the origin, why don’t we understand why we have these rules?

You get the idea. Clearing clutter and making important rules visible are both necessary. Something you simply can’t pass up. You don’t want to wait for this: you either want to get rid of rules or see them enforced. There is nothing in between, in our opinion. So neither work, nor the customer, nor your employee falls between two stools.

How do we proceed: We can set up a program with your organization or department for the above challenges. You will have the first results with groups of 10 employees up to 10,000s within 2 weeks.  You will be amazed to see the results: a quick return on investment. This will not only be reflected in money and agility, but also in higher employee satisfaction and commitment. The best companies in the world, have a foundation based on the commitment of employees. At the time, not the CEO of IKEA, but an employee came up with the idea of removing the legs of the LÖVET table, in order to develop “flat packaging” as a smart, customer-friendly logistics solution. Don’t underestimate employees, they have ideas, they want to improve their work and they know which rules can be thrown out and which ones are badly needed better than anyone.

Fancy a challenge? Contact us today to get started tomorrow.

 What are right questions to ask employees? And how do you get more insight from the participants’ answers? How and why did they come to their choice? What is the real underlying story? Or does that linger under the surface?

The right questions will lead to a successful round of questions

Asking the right questions sounds simple, but it’s not. Countless surveys you have ever distributed as an organization show this. The response rate is low, the answers hardly give the desired results and the frustrations of employees only increase because they have the feeling that ‘nothing is being done’ with their response.

Therefore, we won’t use the word survey. We talk about challenging, listening to each other, working together, where the approach is to engage in a conversation with each other. In question rounds, the right questions are critical to making a question round successful. By successful we mean; whether the outcomes lead to solutions that contribute to the purpose of the questions.

Coming up with questions is difficult

We found that many organizations struggle with asking the right questions. To this end, we conducted research in recent years at dozens of organizations with many tens of thousands of employees, examined studies and designed 100s of questions. We asked them how they are doing, what could be improved or even what needs to be improved.

The 2nd unique round of CircleLytics is used to challenge and inspire each other to think deeper about the questions presented. Organizations such as Fivoor, Inspectorate for Health Care and Youth, Movisie, Unilever, Municipality of Utrecht, HR Community, RSM (global) and several others engaged in a dialogue with employees and their network in this way.

In recent months, dozens of organizations have surveyed 10,000 employees about how they are doing, and what could or should be improved, including what work can be done at home, or not, and why? How much of the work should be done at home, how much at the office? What do employees want, what do they demand? How much room does the labour market allow for not meeting the employees’ demands or wishes? Will employees continue to have the same wishes and demands when it comes to working at home or in the office? What if this changes? What is the influence of the government and social developments when it comes to choices regarding working at home or at the office?

Together with several client organizations, we designed questions, did research and read studies. As a result, we designed top-notch dialogue questions for you and your organizations. You can use these unchanged, enrich them or you can make a selection.

People, society and organizations are currently facing unprecedented circumstances. Insecurities regarding health, finances, jobs and a future for you and your environment go hand in hand. In addition, home and office work must be combined and that in itself is complex enough without corona . Societies and countries are also under pressure to keep their heads above water, to be accountable to parliament and citizens and to ensure that healthcare is or will be up to standard, to offer confidence to all. And then there is the labour market, accessibility of offices, cost of office space versus working from home, etc. Organizations are already making different choices, like Lloyd’s and Goldman Sachs do in this article.

In this sense, we are part of a great experiment in which many people and agencies have opinions, point to each other and are constantly confronted with new, mostly uncertain information. Uncertainty and forms of social isolation can lead to stress and mental problems that transcend normal absenteeism. This can result in a serious loss of confidence, commitment and productivity.

CircleLytics has developed top-notch questions that allow the leadership of the organization, HR, the works council and all employees together to determine what is going well, and what can or must be improved. Contrary to the various corona surveys, the CircleLytics questions reveal the scores: why and how employees think about ‘how to do better’. This provides deeper insights into how to make sound decisions compared to using scores from an old-fashioned survey. It also results in collaboration: employees learn from each other and listen to each other. Something that is desperately needed in these times of little social interaction.

People need trust and connection. You increase this by taking them seriously, showing them that their opinions matter and connecting them in the 2nd round.

We designed a set of questions for dialogues with managers and a set for dialogues with employees. These questions are incorporated into CircleLytics and can be used immediately. We recommend that you don’t limit the dialogue with your people to just one because conditions, markets and uncertainties are constantly changing. You can enrich the questions with matters that apply specifically to you.

An example question:

“To what extent is information from leadership clear and available to you?”

Enrich this question with, for example, the following:

“And please indicate what improvement you see for a higher score next time.”

Or:

“And please explain your score with a recent, clear and telling example.”

Another example question:

“What is the biggest challenge in leading your team when you work from home?”

Enrich this question with, for example, the following:

“Describe a situation that other executives can learn from the most.”

or you can give even more direction to the participant:

“In answering this question, don’t focus on video conferencing/IT but on the social side of your work.”

The first round of questions will generate scores and quality answers. These serve as input for the second round of questions in the Circlelytics dialogue. This is how we challenge participants to think more deeply about the questions presented earlier. They learn from each other and listen to each other. This brings about collaboration and creates support for final decisions. A dialogue emerges and the power of an organization’s collective intelligence now comes to the fore.

Ask it!

Ask managers and employees the right questions, show that their opinion matters and connect them in the second round of questions, so that you can respond as an organization to the real needs that are felt by employees. The right questions help management, Human Resources, the works council and all employees to gain more insight into what is already going well, what can be improved and what really needs to change. And make sure you repeat these rounds of questions regularly, because circumstances are constantly changing.

Looking for more information on these dialogues for your employees and/or managers and are you ready increase your insight immediately? Then email us and start your Proof-of-Concept today.

 

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After becoming a Works Council member, you still want to be able to easily consult your constituents. A tool that is based on data provides a solid foundation for advice from the Works Council to senior management.

We talk to Rachid Adbaili, chairman of the Central Works Council of Unilever and Jacqueline Lafranca, official secretary of the Central Works Council Unilever. Unilever has a Central Works Council in the Netherlands and also a local Works Council at each location in the Netherlands.

“We deploy CircleLytics’ dialogue on a regular basis. Employees elect the members of the (Central) Works Council and we represent the constituents, but we also find it very important to be able to easily consult them. The results of the dialogue also enable us to substantiate our advice to senior management on the basis of data.”

See the entire interview here, or just read on.

Rapid deployment to reach decisions based on facts

A great example of how quickly you can arrive at data-driven decisions is when our European organization was divided into clusters. We were asked for advice and within two weeks, a dialogue was initiated via CircleLytics with the employees involved. Not only did we ask for their advice anonymously; we also explicitly invited them to write down their comments. And obviously we asked for what the dialogue is known for: weighing and responding to each other’s input in the 2nd round.

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We presented the data collected from the dialogues to management. Management then used this in its internal communication towards the employees. The results were also shared with the management team as input for the renewed organizational structure. In this way, the Supervisory Board also immediately had a good picture of what was really going on in the organization.

Underlying concerns and demonstrable support also emerge

The dialogue not only shows people’s thoughts; it also shows which thoughts are supported and reveals people’s concerns. For example, people who wonder what change will mean for them. This is extremely valuable information for us, and we pass it on to management who can then respond to this.

Practical applicability

We can indicate parameters in CircleLytics and after the second round the results are clearly displayed. For example, you can immediately extract a Top 5 and Bottom 5 and, based on the data, clear graphs and additional substantiation are generated. You can also show certain quotes from people – anonymously – for example to senior management. This measurement will provide a solid foundation for a conversation or advice.

We are very satisfied with the support from the CircleLytics team. Especially in the beginning, you’re still searching for answers and it’s great if you can get help in formulating good questions. We always look at how we can formulate questions in a way that is as neutral as possible and really gets people thinking, without influencing them.

The additional characteristics of the participants, which you build into the dialogue, are also very useful. Once you filter the results by these characteristics (such as department, years of service, age category, region) and distil a top 5, you can be more precise in the advice. We now also include these in the advice.

We chose to do this in our own branding with our own logo, completely separate from Unilever, and with an external tool. We have a high response rate, and our employees really appreciate that we ask for their opinion.

Our advice to colleagues in participation bodies

In an ever-changing environment, CircleLytics is an ideal tool for us to consult our constituency remotely. We can reach a large group of people online and give quick feedback to HR and management based on data. Previously, consulting consisted of many meetings and you only had a fraction of the input you now have.

The speed and the advice that is proven to be supported by the majority is also a major advantage of the online dialogue. You can expect participation bodies to use such tools more often in order to provide faster feedback with correct data.

Should you be interested in a demo for your management, HR and / or participation body, please contact us.

Since 1 January 2018, Aventurijn, Palier and de Kijvelanden have formed one new organization: Fivoor. Fivoor provides a regional offer of forensic and intensive psychiatric care.

Jeroen Gast, board member at Fivoor: “We chose and are choosing modern, participative leadership and want a top-down and bottom-up approach. In a continuous dialogue we keep in touch with employees regarding various topics in order to maintain a broad support base within the organization. With this goal in mind, we set to work.”

Pieter de Man, HR director explains, “After the merger, the organization was large, geographically dispersed and three different cultures came together. That was a challenge. Yet the ambition was immediately clear: we don’t just want underlying works councils, we want a broad support base and broad participation throughout the organization. Our employees are well-trained professionals, very articulate and they like to share their thoughts, we like to make use of that.”

Based on this ambition, Fivoor started looking for a solution and approach that could support them in the continuous dialogue and connection with their employees. After comparing various participation solutions, they ended up with CircleLytics, because this online dialogue is the only solution with 2 rounds, taking up a few days each time. This ensures that not only dialogue with employees takes place, but also dialogue between employees. Maurik Dippel, CircleLytics Director: “CircleLytics dialogues provide participants with 3 steps: giving your opinion, valuing other opinions, and being allowed to adjust your opinion. It turns out that participants are very open to the opinions of others and learn a lot from them. Of course, they then think more deeply about your question and usually adjust their opinion. Reflection, in other words. Really think and listen better. And because it’s anonymous, hierarchy, time pressure, weird looks, impatience, extra/introversion, working at home or in the office, or who you are just don’t play a role anymore.”

Now, some two years later after commissioning the online dialogue as a tool and strengthening our participatory organizational culture, we look back at the experiences and results for support and employee engagement within Fivoor.

Reina Schot, Works Council chair: “We have set up various digital dialogues within Fivoor. For example, we gather ideas about safety in the workplace from within the organization and then we test them against the employees to find the best possible solutions. But we also use the dialogue to draw our employees’ attention to subjects such as vitality and schedules for New Year’s Eve. This is how we create greater involvement in our decision-making, so that employee participation really takes place together.”

When the topic in the dialogue is close to the employees and they are dealing with it on a daily basis, we see that there is more response, greater involvement and a better substantive dialogue. We can only applaud that. It is then up to us to give proper feedback to the employees and show that their feedback or idea is actually implemented. That way, they feel heard.

Of course, it’s not always a success story. One dialogue was, in retrospect, too broadly formulated in terms of questions; we received less response. We learned from that. How do you design the question? How much space do you give, how much guidance? Do you also add a quantitative scale? Do you repeat the dialogue after a few months? Who do you ask as participants, a team, a department, everyone?

Gast: “We see the digital dialogue as an indispensable fulfilment of our corporate culture and being a good employer. The importance of asking the right questions and properly feeding back results and decisions to employees is a learning process that is still part of our growth.”

Partly because we value our managers and professionals and use this dialogue, we experience high engagement among employees. We ask for feedback, let them choose and together they come up with an explosion of creativity. Schot: “You just don’t get that with a traditional survey anymore. We value their opinion. After all, they know a lot about it and have to deal with all the challenges on a daily basis. We use that response to get to work.”

Gast: “For us, having dialogues are inseparable from modern leadership. Because of the distance and the large number of locations, the content of the dialogue is guaranteed in this digital way. We can now continue to build our organization in a qualitative, engaged way.” Interested in a demonstration of the online dialogue? For example, to follow up on an employee survey and really zoom in? Or to get and keep employees involved in organizational change, and many other applications? As a Works Council, HR, management or jointly?  Then get in touch with Maurik Dippel.

We use the dialogue to collect the opinion of our constituents

“The dialogue helps us to get the opinions of our constituents and place them where they belong in our organization; with the director, with the teams.”

A Central Works Council wants to talk to its constituents. The challenge within our organization Politie Nederland is that we wanted a representative group within all disciplines to have their say. However, in a large organization with over 65,000 employees, many of whom also work on the street, that’s quite an effort.

Until we deployed the dialogue. The response rate for this tool is high, giving us a representative picture of what is going on within the organization. At the same time, it is also possible to start a dialogue within a certain discipline about subjects that are specifically intended for them.

Ground-breaking success
The dialogue we put out within our organization shortly after New Year’s 2018 brought us immediate success. We felt that much more violence had been used against our employees than the figures showed that had been publicly disclosed. We asked our employees in the dialogue about their experiences and found that many colleagues had not reported the situations involving violence. When we asked why, we received various reasons: from administratively cumbersome to, well, it’s part of the job. We immediately started working on this.

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Based on the dialogue, we were able to make a good case for why the numbers were wrong. The results did not remain internal. The influence of the results of the dialogue reached far, even the Lower House. The result is that fireworks bans and tackling violence against emergency service workers are now higher on the priority list and have led to measures.

Giving your opinion safely
The dialogue is fully anonymized, secure and in line with the GDPR and privacy laws. This is a prerequisite if you want to receive honest answers. Employees answer one or a few challenging, focused questions in the first round. In the second round, they respond to statements and ideas from their colleagues, which initiates a conversation. This subsequently result in a ranking of what gets the most support and why, which provides qualitative insights, as the reasoning behind how and why is also addressed.

We get to see the results at group level. Based on predefined criteria such as age group, units and functions, we can filter more insights from the results. This provides interesting and specific information for us, for administrators and for teams. The dialogue can be used by multiple parties.

Not common
It is not common to purchase software. Yet there was no doubt about the need. We first presented it to our own ICT department to keep it in-house, but it turned out to take much more time and money than expected to realize something comparable. The CircleLytics instrument had already proven its strength and the CircleLytics team is a partner who shares ideas and helps refine smart questions.

The dialogue helps us to pick up the opinions of our constituents and put them where they belong in our organization, with the director, with the teams.

Full video with Rob den Besten:

Contact our team if you would like to learn how your employees and organization can benefit from CircleLytics’ online dialogue. You can find more information on the employee participation page.

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