Interview: “If Culture Is Set Right, People Feel Valued within Your Organisation.”

Jun 5, 2019 | Case Study

It’s always exciting when your business and team is scaling up. You’ve probably proved your product-market-fit, and ready to take on the next challenge, which is to make it available and accessible for a lot more audience out there. However, scaling up quickly comes with its downsides – if not done carefully and correctly. Andries Bellemans, Head of HR at Lisk, shares his story on the challenges his company experienced, and how he utilised Unipos to overcome them.

What’s your name, and what do you do at Lisk?

My name is Andries Bellemans, and I’m the Head of HR at Lisk. I’ve been with Lisk since the end of 2017.

When I started here at Lisk, we were 27 employees. In 2018, our strategy was all about scaling the company. We doubled in size from 27 employees to 60 employees. In general, we set up the whole HR portfolio going from recruiting to performance, then to employer branding. We are now in 2019, and our focus is still to grow the company, but more to put more focus on the culture and retention in general.

Sounds exciting. May I ask what your company does?

We are developing the Lisk blockchain application platform. So our aim is to make blockchain accessible for developers, entrepreneurs, and enterprises to create a product on the blockchain. Our aim is to work on SDK – which stands for Software Development Kit. This means a certain set of tools which allows the entrepreneurs, developers, and enterprises, to create their product on the blockchain via simple clicks using Javascript.

Very interesting. How would you describe your people and the company culture here at Lisk?

In general, we attracted people from all over the world. I would not say there’s one word to describe our culture, but everybody here is basically here with a passion – and that passion is blockchain. Although it is blockchain and everything is about bering “decentralised”, we are still aiming for a healthy company culture. For us, it’s always important to find the right balance between performance, and people feeling valued and comfortable to speak their minds. To sum things up, it’s passion, the performance, and feeling free to speak your mind.

Why is “culture” important for you?

Culture is important to us because it’s the biggest pillar in HR. It rains down to all your other topics within HR: performance, recruiting, and employer branding. And the most important thing is that people can identify with your product or service, with your company and with its vision. And ultimately, if culture is set right, people feel at home, and feel valued within your organisation. This is why it’s so important.

What HR related problems or challenges were you facing back when you met Unipos for the first time?

We scaled up quite dramatically in 2018, and to be honest, it did have some effect on people feeling valued – not being able to have everyone align on where we were heading. Also, when you scale up, naturally your office becomes bigger, which does put a little bit of physical distance to your leadership team. So for us, it was important to celebrate the small and the big wins of people around us, just like we did when we were a smaller team. Then we came across Unipos via our reference. It really was like a gift from the heavens. We are now able to visualise and celebrate small and big wins in the team. People also tell me they have better understanding towards our company values as well, as we can associate all of these actions with hashtags.

What was it about Unipos that made you want to use it within your business? 

First of all, it was very user-friendly. Second, it gave the employees the power to tell us whether our values were clear and actionable. And lastly, it gave us transparency to see the high achievers and contributors. This isn’t to evaluate their performance – it tells us who are the people helping and empowering other members in our teams. For example, we’ve identified that there was a backend engineer teaching and coaching others after their work to do a better job. This is something we really want to highlight and appreciate.

Because there are lots of deliverables that are being achieved throughout the day that are maybe not a big win for the company directly, but still is a big win for the individual. We want to put more focus on the individual, and again, ultimately, make them valued and bring more visibility to the rest of the team on their achievements.

Are there any figures you can share that showcase the effect on anything? Retention rates, or anything that you could share with us?

In terms of figures, I can definitely share some interesting numbers. We scaled quite dramatically in 2018. Of course this comes with its downsides, and our employee turnover was at 3.7% on average per month. We are now in mid 2019 and it has been pushed down more than 60% – we are seeing turnover rates of 1.5%.

So, I think Unipos really helped us in achieving these numbers. Again, people feel more valued, people feel like they belong more to our organisation.

How has Unipos affected your day-to-day life as an HR leader?

Unipos helped us to be more strategic in day-to-day activities. It helps us to get to know the employees even better. It also brings transparency into the daily deliverables, and have them think and act on our company values. The HR analytic toolset that Unipos provided also helps us to be more strategic in the long term.

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