Moving towards a more humane corporate culture in a highly competitive environment
A conversation with Ingrid Dohme from Deloitte Switzerland
At the last Perikom event held under the title «Venture into a more humane work environment! Humanising leadership and communication», Ingrid Dohme, Head of Talent Brand, Marketing & Communication at the consulting firm Deloitte, led a breakout session addressing the topic of «humanness» in an sector that is perceived as «tough». Farner was presenting partner of the event and spoke to Ingrid after the event.
Dear Ingrid, the world of consulting is generally not considered to be very «jovial». Lots of work, a fast pace, internal competition… Despite this, Deloitte Switzerland has embarked on a journey to create the most attractive working conditions possible and a meaningful, inclusive corporate culture. Tell us about it!
That’s right; we are on a journey! It is important for me to emphasise that we cannot achieve everything or get everything right on day 1, nor do we aim to. But we know where we are heading and why we are embarking on this journey.
Why make such an effort? The consulting sector, or rather the service sector, will not undergo any fundamental changes in the foreseeable future.
It is true that we will not be able to change certain underlying principles. Our business is and remains complex and competitive. The employee experience will always be determined to some extent by our customers given that our employees spend a lot of time with them and may have a different experience there. This makes it all the more important that we focus on our employees and lead the way in terms of employee experience.
Our culture and how we treat each other is a key differentiating factor. One might even say that it drives innovation, because in a «people business» an organisation needs the right «people» in order to move forward. We have to constantly reinvent ourselves. Furthermore, only satisfied employees can ensure satisfied customers. It is important to align the employee experience with the customer experience.
What are you doing specifically?
We focus on a few strategic key principles: Purpose, well-being, inclusion, continuous learning and communication.
In other words, We encourage an open and constructive feedback culture. We all regularly attend training sessions to get the «constructive» part right, so that the feedback leads to personal and collective growth. We are convinced that this will have a direct positive effect – also on our superiors, because feedback must be possible from all sides. This also includes open and transparent communication. We provide platforms for direct contact with leadership, whether through so-called Espresso Meetings with our CEO or Junior Advisory Boards, where young employees can bring their perspectives to the table and help shape the future of Deloitte.
This also means that employees participate in shaping their working environment. Our approach is one of co-creation, creating opportunities to contribute ideas, to make a difference. Anyone with a good idea can achieve a lot with us.
You also mentioned the big words «values» and «purpose»…
That’s right! We are very consistent in living our values and creating a truly inclusive work environment. We provide support for employees facing challenges in their private lives, difficult family situations and in destigmatising mental illness or addressing LGBT+ issues. Of course, this includes the usual benefits – from extended parental leave to holiday purchasing and much more.
Last but not least: Purpose. I know, it’s a buzzword. But we believe that our employees can only perform at their best when they experience meaning in their work. We support them in linking their own personal purpose with that of the company. We offer all employees and teams the opportunity to discover and define their individual and team purpose in so-called «Find your why» workshops. As a company, we are also challenging ourselves to integrate our purpose even more strongly and to use it as a guiding star for all our actions.
Does it work?
I think I can honestly say yes. Especially if we involve the teams. Initiatives driven solely by HR do not work. It has to involve the business, the teams. Employee voices are also more likely to be heard at C-level than a lone call from HR – understandably so. Proactively involving employees makes many things easier, not more complicated. Employee networks and their initiatives can really make a difference. Another important aspect has been to sensitise and train management on a few central issues. In this context, it is worthwhile to focus on intrinsic motivation. Management has to support all of us on this journey, otherwise it won’t work.
And where are the shortcomings?
On the one hand, as already mentioned, we are and remain a service provider. This means that the everyday experience of our employees is to a certain extent shaped by factors over which we have little influence. Our business is also complex and competitive, an aspect one must appreciate. We also see that it is becoming increasingly difficult as an employer to differentiate ourselves from the competition. I think this will be a big issue for all companies in the future.
Looking at the individual initiatives, I have to say that despite all efforts, too little feedback is given. It is often only given during our annual appraisals, and even then it is mainly from supervisors to employees. We are actively working to change this with targeted campaigns and training, and are specifically promoting a bottom-up process.
What does the rest of the journey look like at Deloitte?
In the immediate «aftermath» of the pandemic, we have been focusing on «connection», personal encounters, physical get-togethers – wherever this is particularly in demand. In the medium term, we aim to align the entire employee experience much more clearly with our ambition and employer positioning. We want to promote and exemplify radical authenticity. Ultimately, we are working on giving employees more flexibility in terms of «choice». Whether it is a matter of how someone wants to work or on which projects and initiatives. We haven’t quite reached our goal yet!
Are there any takeaways you would like to share with us?
Don’t try to do too much at once. A journey remains a journey. The communicative support of this journey must always remain authentic. Ultimately, the greatest leverage is achieved when the brand and the experience really match. The needs of the employees must be discussed with them and reviewed on an ongoing basis. Their voices are having an astonishing effect on management. And finally, unsurprisingly: HR must operate in an agile manner and remain flexible.
Ingrid Dohme, Head of Talent Brand, Marketing & Communication, Deloitte
Since 2019, Ingrid Dohme has been Head of Talent Brand, Marketing & Communication at Deloitte Switzerland, a leading accounting and consulting company. Together with her team, she works to ensure authentic and professional employer branding, personnel marketing and HR communication, both internally and externally. Ingrid Dohme sees her role primarily as one of recruiting and retaining the best talent – with inspiring stories that reveal how employees learn, grow and have a positive impact at Deloitte.
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