It all started with a tweet: Quintin Schevernels, CEO of Funda, shared how proud he was that amidst the Covid pandemic, Funda employees had just returned the highest score in employee engagement ever. We were excited to hear this and set up a Clubhouse session with Quintin to learn from him. That turned out to be a fun and inspiring two hours and here is what we learned.
Funda is a Dutch real estate platform, founded in 2001 and based in Amsterdam. With a team of 140 people, Funda runs one of the largest real estate websites in the Netherlands. And obviously they did something right during the pandemic. 2020 was a year during which most people had to work from home, not seeing their colleagues in real life for months, while also juggling other challenges like homeschooling their children, dealing with sick friends or relatives and their own fears. In this year, Funda employees reported the highest satisfaction score ever.
In our talk on the social network Clubhouse, Funda CEO Quintin did not want to point to any one factor in particular for the results. We rather discussed a few.
Focus on connection
Quintin describes the culture at Funda as very cordial, friendly, and informal. People in the office are very sociable, and connection-oriented, and tend to do things together during breaks or after work. This culture probably both helped during the pandemic but also took a major hit by the forced separation due to the lockdown.
A few months into the lockdown, Funda doubled down on their culture and focused on creating connection between people, even when apart.
Aside from having online pub-quizzes, people also started ‘Funda Cribs’ (yes, of course inspired by ‘MTV Cribs‘): Rather than using a blurred background for video conferencing that hid their homes, people shot whole videos of their houses, in which they showed their homes to their colleagues. They virtually invited people in, even when they could not connect in the office.
In a company-wide ‘Coffee roulette’, people throughout the company were randomly matched to have a virtual coffee together. This created a lot of encounters, that otherwise would not have happened and certainly not during the pandemic.
Aside from these more fun and socially oriented initiatives, Funda also did the groundwork. During the home office period, 32 new hires had to be onboarded. To support the onboarding process, teams created more thorough descriptions of their work processes and responsibilities, and also created little profiles of all team members for their new colleagues.
Stimulate and facilitate experiments
All in all, Quintin told us about many small and bigger initiatives. The core message is: At Funda, they did a lot to facilitate and create connection between people during the pandemic – and it payed off.
Quintin specifically noticed and valued the power of many different experiments. Also in the future he wants to focus on stimulating and facilitating experiments throughout the company, to create and sustain initiative and engagement amongst the Funda employees. Well, obviously we couldn’t agree more.
As so often in organizations there is not one factor, that defined the high score in employee engagement at Funda during the pandemic. But the deliberate focus and emphasis on connection amongst each other, and the continuous support for experiments created the circumstances to facilitate it.