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How to involve employees more and give their roles purposeful meaning?

By Kate for nexten.io
6 6 min read

How to involve employees more and give their roles purposeful meaning?

In recent years, corporate culture, workplace well-being, and more generally, the company brand, have all become hot topics. These issues are not just serious matters in Paris but in all tech spheres.

Even before COVID hit, the new generation showed a strong desire to change working conditions and optimize work/life balance. Today, offering a comfortable salary is not enough to attract the best candidates on the market. Here we won’t teach you anything new, but Vincent might teach you more than we do. ;-)

We met this CTO, passionate about programming since he was very young, just a few weeks ago. Although video games run in his blood, after dabbling a few times in development, he didn’t hesitate to leave that area and co-found Teamstarter in Paris.

Teamstarter offers a participatory financing solution to be set up internally, for which each employee can propose, carry out, and finance projects within their company. For Vincent, it's the trigger: AT LAST his job makes sense. Here's a look at his vision of work and what is put in place at Teamstarter to sustainably engage employees.

Vincent, CTO Teamstarter

From gaming to start-ups via ESN

After successfully graduating from Epitech, Vincent, a gaming fan, had only one idea in mind: to work in the video game industry and combine work and passion. But when he left school, he couldn't find a job in the industry, even though he had worked on a game for his final project, on Xbox. At that time, what Vincent wanted was to design and code a video game entirely. 

"After working two years with a start-up on subjects I didn't enjoy that much, I decided to switch gears. I join an IT company to get involved in the how. For almost seven years, I delved into market analysis and business intelligence to better understand consumer trends. Finally, after all those years of challenging myself from a technical point of view, the wind died down. I need a change. I want to design my own product, make it evolve, work for myself, grow, and most importantly, make a big impact on future users. That's when I decided to co-found Teamstarter, where I’m the CTO," explained Vincent.

You can tell when an employee’s happy!

Today on LinkedIn, we see a new role sprouting up over and over in the ads: the “CHO,” or Chief Happiness Officer. 

Vincent explained: "OK, leaders increasingly understand how much better employees work when they are fulfilled at work. But each employee is different and has personal expectations. So, it’s much more complicated! One lesson I learned from my past experiences is that company culture has a hard time evolving! It requires a huge time investment to be maintained AND relevant. Plus, it’s not so personalized after you've grown beyond 30 employees.”
“Teamstarter changes the direction of the problem,” Vincent elaborated. “The manager’s no longer the one who wonders how to do everything right! We allow each employee to launch internal projects related to the quality of life at work or the development of skills. Each employee is in charge of his or her own project and is proud to present it to the rest of the team if there is common support.”

Teamstarter team

According to Vincent, there are two clear criteria for measuring an employee's commitment. Firstly, a fulfilled employee will, at the time of his or her departure, give the reasons why he or she has taken off for a new structure. And then, another interesting criterion to analyze is that of co-optation. Normally, an employee is unlikely to recommend a company to someone close to him or her if he or she does not feel comfortable there. 

"Obviously, setting up internal surveys and employee interviews is the key to success and these types of practices must be implemented," Vincent added.

Breaking down silos to make way for innovation

At Teamstarter, the director of the support division was initially an intern. The same goes for the Director of Innovation. Employees are recruited for their personality—not for their CV, which offers an overly simplistic view. Moreover, the team is full of atypical profiles with different backgrounds. The only objective is to gather around the Teamstarter project a team sharing the same values: team spirit, perseverance, humility, confidence, and joy.

"My mottos is, ‘Let employees work and act as they please.’ Avoid micro-managing and checking in incessantly at all costs. It's by letting employees be creative and get out of their comfort zone that we leave room for true innovation and an environment conducive to serendipity," Vincent added. 

Of course, Teamstarter is one big development team. So, we asked Vincent what his definition of development was.

"At Teamstarter, each developer is responsible for their own topic. They have total ownership of what they propose and design. Our developers are full stack since we’re mostly looking for an ‘experience’ vision—the added value we’ll create for our user. The production team at Teamstarter, called the "impact team," is composed of developers, a product owner, and a product designer. They take care of their subject, their baby, from start to finish: they identify a need, work on usability and design, exchange with the CTO to improve the project as a whole, and implement it in order to solve any potential problems. All this happens in total collaboration from start to finish with all members—including developers! Of course, for the developers, the projects finally make sense! They’re no longer coding in their own corner, without understanding the importance of their tasks," Vincent said.

And how do you retain all your tech talent?

Vincent has several motivational and engagement strategies to share to keep tech talent from jumping overboard.

"First off, ask. You can't just guess what employees want. Everyone is different, so it becomes a matter of personally asking each individual on the team what points need to be worked on to improve their quality of life at work. Interviews related to operations are an obvious choice. Every month, I do a review with the team to ask if the missions and tasks are in line with their expectations," Vincent explained.

But that's not all. Vincent already mentioned above the importance of each developer having a stake in the project. At Teamstarter, developers are also experts in specific subjects: one specializes in security, another in infrastructure, and so forth. The idea here is that everyone can increase their skills on subjects that concern them the most.

Teamstarter Team

Vincent concluded with his vision of the company: "It must be shared so all employees can know their stakes in the project. Projects are planned together. Everyone should be able to contribute ideas. Even if they’re not directly involved in the project, and even if a partner doesn’t contribute new ideas, everyone has to be on board, participate, and realize that their work has a direct impact on the project at hand."

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