Case Study: Becoming The Coolest Employer In The Netherlands

Pim de Morree
Written by Pim de Morree June 09, 2018

We often get asked how we support our clients to make work more fun. To answer that question, we hereby share an example of how we have supported one of our clients, TMC, over the last 6 months.

Over the last couple of months we have joined forces with high-tech company and Bucket List organization TMC. TMC wants to become the coolest employer of the Netherlands, which for us is reason enough to start working together with the employees (called Employeneurs at TMC) of two of their cells to make this dream come to life.

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As our own Freek explains: "The transition of TMC into becoming the coolest employer of the Netherlands began with a presentation to get the rebel mindset running. The eight trends of the most inspiring organizations, best practices and cases studies were shared to prepare the Employeneurs and to give them ammunition for their transition."

Background: TMC and the Employeneurship model

TMC, founded in 2000 in The Netherlands, is an international high tech consultancy company comprised of so-called Employeneurs who provide services to customers all over the world. 1000+ Employeneurs from 40+ nationalities provide research, development and engineering in nearly 20 fields of technological expertise.

The Employeneurs work within business cells based on fields of technological expertise. Their particular organizational model is highly inspired by Eckart Wintzen's 'Cell Philosophy' which we witnessed before at Dutch Bucket List organizations like Finext, Rebel Group, and Buurtzorg. This organizing principle has proven itself to be resilient, flexible and strong.

The Employeneurship model is invented by TMC and is pretty unique. It enables the employees of TMC with the opportunity to think and act like an entrepreneur, while enjoying the security of employment. Learn more about it on their website.

1. Vote for change

At Corporate Rebels, we don't believe in forced change. We much rather work with clients who are intrinsically motivated to change; not the companies where just the top of the organization wants to transform. Therefore, we let our clients vote for change before we coach and support them on their transformation path.

"Whether they wanted to use this information and move forward was totally up to the Employeneurs. A vote on ‘do you believe this direction can support you in achieving this goal’, sealed the deal. With 75% (of nearly 100 employees) voting ‘yes’, an intrinsically motivated and enthusiastic group was ready to start making a change."

2. Design and execute experiments

Another important part of our consulting approach is to design and execute small change experiments. No big plans, endless powerpoints, and sickening amounts of milestones without tangible actions.

Instead, together with employees we design small (and radical) change experiments that can be executed on a short term. Based on the outcomes of those experiments we keep, adapt, or ditch the change and move forward from there.

At TMC, once the Employeneurs voted in favor of the transformation we started working with them to design small change experiments. A group of 30 excited Employeneurs joined the Design Experiments Workshop. The goal of the experiments was ‘simple’. What do you want to achieve in six weeks? The rules:

  • the experiment has to achievable within your own circle of influence;
  • and the results have to be measurable (in some way or another).

Together with the Employeneurs we designed six experiments and after another vote three were chosen to be executed:

  • Creating salary transparency;
  • Improving holiday leave flexibility;
  • Improving feedback to managers.

From that moment on the Employeneurs had six weeks to start and execute their self-designed experiments. We guided them through this process. After this six-week period they came back to share their results with the rest of the entire group of 100 Employeneurs.


3. Build a movement

What is really great is that all of the experiments have led to concrete results or have become input for improvements that are currently put in progress.

  • Leave days are at the moment being re-designed by the Board of TMC.
  • Insights in salary rates based on experience and education are now transparent and shared within the cells. Employeneurs' feeling of fairness increased significantly because of this.
  • They have started with a new format of feedback/evaluation of (account) managers by the Employeneurs.

And the best thing is, we are expanding this movement where Employeneurs are co-creating the desired way of working at TMC.

This "building a movement" is another important aspect of our approach. We first design and execute change experiments with the most highly motivated employees. Once the first results are in, we communicate it in such a way that we get others excited to join the change movement.

No forced change, but inspired change. While the movement grows, the organization changes in a very natural, organic way. Employees make the change themselves, experience the benefits, and therefore inspire others to jump aboard. The only role we play is to challenge, keep momentum high, and train our clients to become fully self-supporting.

The outcomes

That co-creating your policies and processes works and is very much appreciated is not only our strong belief. At TMC, the reactions we get from the participating Employeneurs prove that they feel more involved and connected. A snapshot of the feedback we got:

  • 'With this process of experimenting TMC shows they really listen to their Employeneurs';
  • TMC shows they are willing to take actions based on the insights of the experiments';
  • 'Corporate Rebels gives inspiration, energy and keeps the engine running', and,
  • 'Skepticism disappeared when we got total freedom to design the experiments ourselves'.
The only role we play is to challenge, keep momentum high, and train our clients to become fully self-supporting.
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Did everything go well? No, of course not. We learned loads of new things. For example, at first we struggled to get the experiments going as we moved too quickly when designing the experiments. We learned we needed to take more time to nail down the details of the experiments.

The adventure continues

We'll continue our work with TMC and support them on their path to become "The Coolest Employer Of The Netherlands". We'll challenge them, inspire them, coach them, and help them to further grow their internal, positive change movement.

Written by Pim de Morree
Pim de Morree
As co-founder of Corporate Rebels I focus on: researching, writing, speaking, and building our company.
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