Tough trade, humane culture – an interview with Ingrid Dohme from Deloitte Switzerland

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The journey to a more humane corporate culture in a highly competitive environment. An interview with Ingrid Dohme von Deloitte Schweiz. At the recent Perikom event entitled “Dare a more humane work environment! Leading and communicating in a more human way”, Ingrid Dohme, Head of Talent Brand, Marketing & Communication at the consulting firm Deloitte, led a breakout session on dealing with the topic of “humanity” in a trade perceived as “tough”. Farner was presenting partner of the event and was able to talk to Ingrid afterwards.

Dear Ingrid, the world of “consulting” is not necessarily considered “cozy”. Busy work, fast pace, internal competition… Nevertheless, Deloitte Switzerland has embarked on a journey to create the most attractive working conditions and a meaningful, inclusive culture possible. Tell us about it!
That’s right; we have embarked on a journey! It’s important for me to emphasize that we can’t do everything on Day 1 or get everything right, nor do we want to. But we do know where we’re heading. And why we are setting out.

All right; why these efforts? The consulting industry, or rather the service business, will not change at its core in the near future.
It’s true that we won’t be able to change certain framework conditions. Our business is and will remain complex and competitive. The employee experience will always be determined to a certain extent by our customers, because our employees spend a lot of time with them and may have different experiences there. That’s why it’s even more important to place our employees at the center and the lead on the employee experience.

“Our culture and how we treat each other is a key differentiating factor. You could almost say an innovation driver, because in a “people business” an organization needs the right “people” to get ahead. We must constantly reinvent ourselves. In addition, only satisfied employees ensure satisfied customers. It’s important to align the Employee Experience with the Customer Experience.”

What do you do specifically?
We rely on a few strategic pillars: purpose, well-being, inclusion, continuous learning and communication.

That means we strengthen an open and constructive feedback culture. We all undergo regular training to get the “constructive” right, so that feedback enables personal and collective growth. We are convinced that we can trigger immediate positive effects this way – even with superiors, because feedback must be possible in all directions. This also includes open and transparent communication. We create formats for the most direct access to management: whether through so-called Espresso meetings with our CEO or through junior advisory boards, where young employees contribute with their perspectives and help shape the future of Deloitte.

This also means that employees should be involved in shaping their daily lives. We live the approach 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” …
Exactly! We are very consistent in living our values and creating a truly inclusive work environment. Standing by when employees face challenges in their personal lives, difficult family situations, destigmatizing mental illness or activating LGBT+ issues. Of course, the usual benefits – from extended parental leave to buying vacations and much more – are also included.

Last but not least: purpose. I know, a buzzword. But we believe that our employees can only perform at their best if they experience meaning in their work. We support them in linking their own personal purpose with that of the company. For example, we offer all employees and teams the opportunity to discover and define their individual and team purpose in so-called “find your why” workshops. And we challenge ourselves as a company to integrate our purpose even more strongly and 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 purely by HR don’t work. The business, the teams have to be involved. Employee voices are also more likely to be heard at C-level than a solitary shout from HR – understandably so. Proactively involving employees makes many things easier, not more complicated. Employee networks and their initiatives can really make a difference. It has also turned out to be important to sensitize and train management on a few central topics. It pays to focus on intrinsic motivation. Management has to support all of us on this journey, otherwise it won’t work.

And where is the problem?
On the one hand, as already mentioned, we are and remain a service provider. This means that the day-to-day experience of our employees is shaped to a certain extent by factors over which we have little influence. In addition, our business is complex and competitive, and you have to like that. We also see that as an employer it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the competition. I believe that this will strongly affect all companies in the future.

“Finally, when we look at the individual initiatives, I have to state that despite all the efforts, too little feedback is still given overall, and often only on the occasion of the annual review, and even then, mainly from supervisors to employees. We are actively working to change that with targeted campaigns and training and are specifically promoting the bottom-up process.”

So, what is the journey ahead at Deloitte?
Immediately “after” the pandemic, we are focusing on “connection,” personal encounters, physical get-togethers – wherever this is particularly requested. In the medium term, we want to align the entire employee experience much more clearly with our ambition and employer positioning. We want to promote and exemplify radical authenticity. Finally, we are working on giving employees more flexibility in the sense of “choice.” Whether how someone wants to work or on which projects and initiatives. We haven’t quite got there yet!

What takeaways would you like to share with us?
Do not try too much at once. A journey remains a journey. The communicative accompaniment of this journey must always remain authentic. After all, the greatest leverage lies in the brand and the experience really matching. The needs of the employees must be coordinated with them and constantly reviewed. These voices from the workforce have an amazing impact on management. And finally, unsurprisingly: HR itself must work agilely, remain flexible.

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Ingrid Dohme, Head of Talent Brand, Marketing & Communication, Deloitte

Ingrid Dohme has been Head of Talent Brand, Marketing & Communication at Deloitte Switzerland, a leading audit and consulting firm, since 2019. Together with her team, she ensures authentic and professional employer branding, HR marketing and HR communication both internally and externally. Ingrid Dohme sees her task primarily in finding and retaining the best talents – with inspiring stories that show how employees at Deloitte learn, grow and have a positive impact.