Happy employees equal happy customers. This formula, proven in numerous studies, has been established in HR departments for a while. But what exactly does employee satisfaction look like and, above all, how do you achieve it? For Maren Stieler, HR Director at T.A. Cook, the key is open, ongoing communication and a guiding principle of relevance and personalization which she internalized during her apprenticeship in the hospitality industry.
Text: Ute Bernhardt
"Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” This philosophy has worked well for Richard Branson, one of the world's most successful businessmen who is notorious for unconventional methods and staying close to the base. On flights with his airline, for example, he regularly talks to the crew and takes notes of their ideas and suggestions.
"Taking employees seriously and communicating openly with them is extremely important for a positive company culture," explains Maren Stieler, who runs the HR department at T.A. Cook since 5 years. "Simply knowing the competencies of employees is no longer enough. Really understanding them means first and foremost listening to them carefully and continuously. We encourage our colleagues to get involved, because that's the only way we know what they need to do their job in the best possible way."
Regular meetings and one on ones, conversations in the hallway, a joint lunch break, a short phone call instead of an e-mail - all of these are priorities for Maren Stieler to stay in touch with the workforce. But to really reach all employees and get a holistic view of the mood within the organization, you also need digital tools. "Even before the pandemic, our colleagues did a lot of remote work - that's part of the consulting business. That's why we started digitizing our HR department 4 years ago. With Lattice, for example, we introduced a modern people management software that enables us to build engaged, high-performing teams, inspire an open feedback culture, and thereby make strategic, data-driven decisions for HR development."
These investments also pay into the company's strategy to retain employees long term. "As one of the leading consulting firms for asset performance management, our aim is to provide clients with the best possible advice based on deep expertise. This is most effective when our employees work with the customers over the long term and have a detailed understanding of their needs, strategies, and objectives," explains the HR generalist.
Even during her training at the luxury Hotel Adlon, she internalized that exceptional experiences work through relevance and personalization. "I always wanted to work in an environment where the focus is on the positive personal experience," says the trained hotel manager, who studied human resources management after her apprenticeship. Even though she now looks after the well-being of employees rather than guests, "people always come first. Humanity, honesty and authenticity are values we live every day and everbody feels that right from the start."