Allireza Ghahremani (Alli) is the current commercial director for Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Sweden. He is also the founder of Weekli a tool that allows company leaders or managers to measure and understand employee behavior as well as provides solutions to help build a healthier work environment.
In the HR Dagarna 2018, Alli talked about how employee engagement can contribute to the growth, commitment and success. Swedish App Scene was able to have an exclusive interview with him to talk more in-depth about his perspective on what a healthy working environment is and how it can be achieved.
You gave an inspiring speech on work culture and engagement during the HR Dagarna. What would you say reflects a good working environment?
Alli highlighted 3 main factors that create a good working environment; which are influence, goal clarity and recognition. Influence is how much influence does employees have over the company’s goals and strategy, the more influence an employee has the more the employee would feel more empowered. Alli talks about goal clarity based on his own experience:
“As an example, I had a discussion with our Paris managers about my career here in Sodexo. What if I take Weekli from a start-up to 10 million SEK to 20, to 30, to 100 million SEK? I need to have a roadmap where I see how these things will affect my life. It doesn’t always mean that these will affect my life positively. My career is great and I’m building a new company within Sodexo but it could still have a negative effect on my life if I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Lastly, giving recognition to employees is also important not only in terms of awarding performance but also recognizing the needs of employees such as respecting their time and helping them achieve a work-life balance.
Understanding your employees & their honest opinion about their employer is a big challenge for many companies. How can companies enable employees to freely express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction from their job?
“If it is possible to protect them, to be anonymous then I think it would be much easier. I’ve been a manager for 15 years and I always try to bring down myself, put myself not up there but low to make people talk” says Alli
He believes that employees should have the option to express themselves freely but through a structured way because without guidelines or structures providing feedback could end up being chaotic. Feedback should be honest yet constructive because without structure.
He further explains that managers should recognize the fact that they have a power over their employees. That their decisions would greatly affect their employees and once managers have recognized this power then they will have the obligation to use it responsibly. He encourages managers to seek feedback and once they have received feedback there should be a course of action that follows.
What advice would you give leaders and company heads who would like to bring change to other company culture or environment?
“If companies really want to change and do good. Create environments where people would actually want to be there. Then it’s not about the fridges, it’s not about the cookies, it’s not about the coffee machine. It’s about am I really having fun am I enjoying myself am I feeling meaningful? Because meaningfulness is today is a rare thing.”
Alli says that companies should focus on the psycho-social health of employees as much as they focus on their physical needs. He adds that a good way to track this is by communicating with employees and pairing it with data.
By creating meaningfulness in the workplace employees will be motivated to work harder and to do their best.
Why is it important to be data-driven?
“Why use data? Because it really, really helps you to take better decisions than when you use your intuition. It profs your intuition decision making.”
Some people think that there is a contradiction between intuition and being data-driven but according to Alli there two should compliment each other. He used boardroom meetings as an example, he says that most boardroom decisions are done out of hearsay and being data-driven can be a company’s way of being closer to the truth.
Alli shared that it’s not completely about the data itself but how managers would understand the data. He sees that being data-driven is a way for people to gather as much unbiased information as possible and it would help them make smarter decisions.