Why engagement matters at fast-growing Fellowmind

Fellowmind is rapidly growing. Having taken over various companies across Europe in recent years, the IT service provider has nearly doubled the size of its workforce along the way. Yet, even in the midst of this fast-paced expansion, Fellowmind continues to focus heavily on employee engagement. To monitor engagement, Fellowmind relies on the Schouten & Nelissen Engagement Survey.

Seeing engagement as a KPI

“Our people are our most important asset. They make all the difference,” says Peter Stulp, COO of Fellowmind, a company that currently counts 1,350 employees amongst its ranks. “At Fellowmind, we’ve created a ‘brand culture book’ which defines our principles and identity. What it all comes down to is people: they are central to everything we do. We have our people at heart.” Employee engagement is a key part of this. Fellowmind even views engagement as a KPI that is always at the forefront of the company’s strategic planning.

But why is engagement so important? According to Peter, “Lots of companies focus still on job satisfaction and employee satisfaction surveys. But there’s a lot more to the job experience than just satisfaction. Think about aspects like applying talent, finding meaning in your work or feeling challenged on the job. We think there’s a convincing business case to be made for engagement. If you take good care of your people, they’ll take good care of your customers. They’ll start to exceed expectations. And that’s how you keep your customers satisfied.”

Focus on talent and meaningful, challenging work

To boost engagement, it takes a positive work environment as well as personal attention. “We have to create conditions in which our people can apply their talents while also feeling challenged and finding meaning in their work. Can I do the things I’m good at? What do I enjoy doing? Am I making a contribution? But also, is my workload challenging enough without it being too much?”

Fellowmind is pursuing a vision which focuses on making “meaningful connections” possible. “We want for our work to contribute to making the world a better place. Using digital tools makes work more efficient, so people have more time to invest in meaningful connections. Automating repetitive tasks gives you more space for doing things that really matter.” Peter says the same thing goes for Fellowmind’s employees: “For them, it’s important to know what they are working to achieve.”

Engagement is key, especially in times of growth

Fellowmind’s vision of engagement may be inspiring, but how does the company manage to bring this vision to life while also managing its fast-paced growth? It faces numerous challenges, not least of all its multinational structure, which spans across various cultures. How does the company keep everyone on the same page when it comes to employee engagement? And how does it keep track of engagement levels?

“The Engagement Survey gives us a better understanding and helps us spot areas for improvement.”

According to Peter, “It already starts before any takeover takes place. Does the other company’s culture and core values match our own? It’s in all our companies’ nature to devote a lot of attention to people.” On top of this, the company leadership at Fellowmind plays an important part in promoting engagement. As part of the company’s three Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) pillars, engagement is an item on the agenda, even for Fellowmind’s top management. “Engagement is also part of our leadership program, which extends throughout our entire organization,” says Peter. “It’s part of our leadership model. It’s important that we all have this shared vision. And that’s something that we teach our top talent within our ‘future leadership program.’”

On top of all this, there’s also the annual Engagement Survey, which is conducted simultaneously throughout all parts of the company. “The Engagement Survey gives us a tool for objectively measuring this topic. It shows us exactly how things stand, throughout our entire company,” says Peter.

Gaining insight with the Engagement Survey

Schouten & Nelissen has been conducting the Engagement Survey each year at Fellowmind since 2015. The questionnaire offers insights into the level of employee engagement throughout the company as a whole, as well as on the individual team level. It reveals what employees think about applying their talent, feeling challenged and finding meaning in their work. It also covers topics such as work stress, engaged leadership and personal resources.

How does the Engagement Survey add value? According to Peter, “It’s hard to keep track of everything that’s going on within your company, especially when you’re growing so fast. The survey gives us a better understanding. It shows us trends and developments, and helps us identify areas for improvement. You don’t always spot those things when you’re right in the middle of the action. The Engagement Survey gives us insights and alerts us to things that we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

“It’s important that you take the time to analyze and interpret the findings. Don’t simply use the survey to find out what you’re doing right. It actually provides an intrinsic motivation to improve the working environment.”

From insight to 10,000 steps a day

The most recent survey at Fellowmind revealed that vitality is a major focus for employees. “Physical and mental vitality will always be important, especially in this industry. That’s why we kicked off ‘Steptember’ last year. We sponsored our employees, so that they could raise money for cerebral palsy by walking 10,000 steps each day. It got a lot of people up on their feet, including myself,” says Peter with a laugh. 

Another major focus was meaningful work. “Our employees are finding it more and more important to give something back to society through their work. That’s especially true for our younger generation,” says Peter. He is proud that, despite the fast pace of Fellowmind’s growth, there has still been a clear improvement in many areas, including personal leadership. Yet, the company's management is also determined to learn from the survey’s findings, even when they are less positive. “We’ve seen less engagement and a more distant relationship to the job in some areas. That teaches us that we need to work harder to strengthen ties between people and the organization.” 

The up-and-coming talents in the future leadership program have already started applying the findings of the Engagement Survey. They are working to improve vitality and help employees find more meaning in their work. The goal is to develop new solutions and a practical approach, so that Fellowmind employees stay engaged now and in the future.

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