How Netcetera ensures satisfied and healthy employees

Employers must communicate that they can guarantee jobs in the long term

According to the employee survey conducted by the Swiss Employer Award 2013, the IT service provider Netcetera is the best IT employer in Switzerland. CFO Thomas Geier explains why this is the case, and what his company is doing to keep its employees satisfied and healthy.

«Employee satisfaction in technology companies is often based on different needs and requirements compared to those of employees in other industries. The average age amongst our 350 employees is between 30 and 35. Many are university graduates who have unlimited resources to draw on, and who want to realize their full potential. Alongside income and job security, individuals who work for us are above all looking for a meaningful and enjoyable job. We try to live up to these needs by attaching great importance to team spirit. This is reflected in aspects of our culture such as the treatment of one another as equals and the open, personal exchange that occurs across different levels in the hierarchy, but it can also be seen in the great sense of freedom employees have in terms of how they work, as well as in mutual trust. I believe that this culmination of various cultural aspects was also the most important reason behind the nomination for the Swiss Employer Award.

Of course, there is the question of whether every company could be like us. I do not think so. It is clear that one important prerequisite for this kind of culture is that the company must be an economically successful employer offering long-term stability. The employer must be able to communicate that they can guarantee their employees' jobs in the long term. This cannot be done by creating the illusion that everything will remain as it is. Instead, the employer must demonstrate that they are able to handle change in a positive and constructive manner. This in turn requires a lot of flexibility: flexibility when it comes to working times, mentality, and organization.

Attractive employment conditions such as compensation, fringe benefits, table football, and much more also have a role to play. For example, we offer two top-class employee restaurants, employee events such as a day out in the snow or a two-day company seminar for all, various different career models, and a state-of-the-art workplace infrastructure which is also available for private use. However, such superficial aspects are irrelevant if the content of the work is not right. Of course, infrastructure flaws should not cause disruptions. An excessive workload combined with unsatisfactory work content is extremely harmful. A healthy balance must always be struck between workload and content and everything else. In order to maintain this balance as well as ensure the further development of the corporate culture, we introduced what we call an Employment Design Team about two years ago, involving seven representatives from various departments, roles, countries, and age groups. We realized that in certain challenging situations, not only one body or individual is responsible. If, for example, a project team is permanently under pressure, it is not only the project manager who is responsible for that situation. It could also be the responsibility of the sales department, the line manager, or the human resources department. In the past, however, there was no specific person to bring all those involved around one table and to provide overall coordination of the procedure.

The Employment Design Team now meets on a monthly basis. This allows different ideas and suggestions concerning employment conditions in the broadest sense of the term to come together through various channels. The subjects covered range from employee events and wage setting, right up to complex team situations. The Employment Design Team members get at least one day per month to take the time to devote themselves to these overriding tasks, free from their everyday responsibilities.
This team has also brought about an expansion of our career model, into which a specialist career path option has now been integrated. Another particularly crucial element at the current time is the creation of employment conditions for our site in Macedonia. We want to provide a strong, cross-site corporate culture and attractive working conditions, but at the same time there are cultural, historical, and legal differences between Switzerland and our sites abroad. In addition, local customs need to be respected.

Of course, none of these efforts will bear fruit if the wrong people are employed. This is why, for us, recruitment is a very decisive link in the chain. The greatest risk of hiring the wrong person arises when differing expectations are not recognized during the recruitment process. We therefore attach a lot of importance to transmitting as realistic an image of our company as possible. This is reflected in our website and our job descriptions. If vacancies are filled properly, professional criteria only account for 25 per cent of success. Another important aspect is the chemistry that can first be sensed during the job interview.

If an individual is then hired, alongside compensation, workload, and work content, we also focus on the prevention of health problems. Everything that contributes to employee satisfaction ultimately builds mental strength and reduces the risk of health problems. In this sense, we also try where possible to allow our employees to work in the areas in which they are best able to contribute their knowledge and experience, whilst still enjoying their job.

For this purpose, we also developed our own software for human resource planning. This allows a detailed and flexible distribution of employees across the more than 200 projects, with a granularity of half a working day. Using this support tool, the project steering board concerns itself with human resources planning once a week.
During this process, workload and content are considered in exactly the same way as the interfaces with the sales department, project managers, team leaders etc. I am firmly convinced that at Netcetera, only those people who are committed and want to achieve the best will find the optimal solution.In addition, employees have an insight into this instrument and can also introduce their own requests.

However, that alone is not enough for us. It is also important to recognize when something is wrong early on. To do so, we institutionalized three channels of awareness: project managers, team leaders, and human capital managers. During team leader trainings, the topic of early recognition of problems at work is specifically addressed. Furthermore, refresher courses are regularly provided. Finally, the human capital management department performs the task of overall supervision and exchange. Absence management software also flags up possible problem cases at an early stage.

If an employee does become ill, our credo is to integrate the person affected back into the workplace as best possible, and this in close cooperation with our social and insurance partners. We believe that it is important not to act as if an illness never existed. Anyone can be affected, despite all prevention efforts.»


Go to the booklet by Helsana "Early detection and reintegration"

More about Helsana

More stories

On this topic