Going out into the field to listen to employees and see what things are like for them day-to-day. Vincent David, the chairman and founder of Sophia Engineering, backed up by the person in charge of the member experience, is on a tour of his company’s offices in France in order to hold discussions with employees and make sure that their experience matches up to the one the company would like them to have. This is the aim of the “Sophia Members Tour” – from the name given to the company’s employees – which has just finished its 8th stage out of fifteen or so which are planned.
The idea of the Tour is to go out and meet the scientific and technical engineering company’s 270 employees based all over France, with offices in Toulouse, Montpellier, Lyons and Paris, plus branches across the country, in order to maintain a close relationship with clients.
Everyone is free to have a say
“In order to facilitate workshops, we hold discussions sitting in a circle with a facilitator who decides whose turn it is to speak next. This is a long way from the teacher-and-pupil relationship with a PowerPoint presentation where all the employees are sitting in a row”, explains Vincent David.
Employees tell us about their experiences at informal meetings at which everyone is free to have a say. “Because we stay in touch with them, they tell us what they actually want to pursue, try out or stop doing”. This leads to a whole host of positive ideas, for instance about communal events organised at the company, but also complaints about administrative hassles – about visa or accommodation questions, for example – and also ideas for improvements, about organising events so that employees can get to know each other better or to make it easier for colleagues to help one another.
Everything is then tracked in the quality system. “There’s genuine follow-up: we commit to giving feedback on everything that’s fed back to us from the field and about how we’ve dealt with it, within three months. This gives us a roadmap to follow”. Project leaders will be given the task of working on the chosen ideas. “Anyone can change the company, which means that employees feel their work is recognised and that their ideas are listened to”. As a result, the feedback from Sophia Members is more than positive: ”A lot of companies claim to have a human side but here it really is true”. At Sophia Engineering the company culture of “moving forward together” is part of everyday life.