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Dare your employees to dream

How do you keep company culture thriving even though everyone is working from home?

The coronavirus pandemic has caught us all unaware. To get everyone working from home has been a challenge, but the main concern is the potential longevity of the coronavirus pandemic and what that means for a company with a strong culture, like the one Netsurit has strived to create.

“At the heart of Netsurit’s DNA is its cause – supporting the dreams of the doers,” says Carina Davis, Dream Manager at Netsurit. “That means helping employees achieve their personal dreams and ambitions, which is built on the idea that to grow a successful global business, you have to create a culture where your people can live their best lives. Happy and fulfilled employees are committed to the business and will go the extra mile to help your customers meet their broader business goals.”

As part of the Dreams Programme, each employee is encouraged to create an annual Dream Book visualising their top 10 personal goals. Every month, employees meet in small groups to talk about where they are in achieving those goals. They share experiences and support each other.

In August 2018, Netsurit kicked off an initiative called Dream Connect in New York, the idea being that leaders must have the ability to recognise the dreams of those that they lead and inspire them to achieve their visions for themselves.

“We have three offices, in New York, Johannesburg and Cape Town,” says Sarika Thakor, HR Manager at Netsurit. “Our staff satisfaction surveys had revealed that our people sometimes felt disconnected from others across the business. We decide that we wanted to get them to know each other. The purpose of Dream Connect was to encourage staff members to share their Dream Books with others who either had similar dreams or could provide guidance and advice based on personal experience. One of our values is family, and family members typically want to know what the others are working towards.”

The programme started simply. A suggestions list was shared with staff, providing information about likeminded people who might benefit by connecting based on shared interests and goals, and prompting them to meet face-to-face or online.

An employee will say to another: ‘This is what I’m working on and I’d like to do a Dream Connect with you,’ they will chat, ask for help or advice, then take a selfie, and send it off to HR. For completing a Dream Connect meeting, they each get points on Netsurit’s balanced scorecard, which keeps track of the execution of activities.

“We have always had high levels of authentic engagement in the company,” says Thakor. “But this programme, and the passion that went into creating an initiative with such an intense focus on the well-being of individuals in the organisation, has led to even greater engagement across the board. Our staff are amazed that they are being rewarded for doing something that benefits them without necessarily benefiting the company. What is really gratifying is that their commitment to the business is even more deeply felt as a result.”

With the COVID-19 lockdown, the efficacy of Dream Connect has been highlighted even further, allowing people to engage with one another in a time of dislocation.

The HR team plays a key role in motivating employees to continue connecting and reports on who is leading when it comes to the number of connections made.

Davis says this helping to maintain the sense of family in the business, and to break down silos. “Well-being is extremely important in the workplace today, and we are proud to contribute to making Netsurit a great place to work for everyone.”

Davis and Thakor point out that the promotion of Netsurit’s unique culture is supported at CEO level, and that the entire executive team participates in the Dream Connect programme with as much enthusiasm as the employees.

“Our executives lead by example, and they too are measured by their involvement in the programme. That is what makes it such a resounding success.”

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