The way we do business is changing, and so is the way we work. Nowadays, the workplace is no longer where you simply punch your timestamp, do your tasks, and head home. It’s a place where employees want to actively participate, find fulfillment, and grow personally and professionally. This shift is placing many corporations under increasing pressure to change their ways and rethink their culture. Together with the Chief Personnel Officer at Swisscom, Hans Werner, we spoke about these developments and how the Kickbox program can contribute to cultivating a corporate culture that is fit for the future.
"Employees are their own brand."
As the world of work changes faster than ever before, many of the jobs that exist today will be non-existent or look completely different in a few years. And so, the focus is shifting from job profiles to skillsets. Skills have become an extremely important currency. Hans Werner hits the nail on the head: “Each employee is his/her own brand. Their experience has given them a unique package of skills, which they bring to the market.” This is essential to survive in an environment that is exceptionally competitive and continuously subject to disruptive changes. This development influences and is influenced by the way we work together in today’s organizations. While some industries are still clinging to hierarchical models, where employees simply do as they’re told, many others – in the IT field, in particular – have undergone a significant shift in this respect. Much of the top talent is simply not prepared to be pushed into this kind of hierarchy any longer. They want to be able to actively participate, shape projects, improve processes, and of course, take on the personal responsibility that comes with that. Otherwise, they will go somewhere else. Providing employees with opportunities to develop, get involved, and make a difference certainly gives you a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
"A win-win situation."
Programs such as Kickbox enable companies to offer their employees these opportunities. Bottom-up innovation is the exact opposite of the hierarchies many employees are turning their backs on. It’s not about one person sitting at the top being creative and then passing orders down the chain; rather, it enables the entire workforce to contribute. But it’s not only advantageous for the employees. As Hans Werner puts it, “Kickbox provides a win-win situation. On the one hand, it allows talented individuals to explore and live out their creativity and innovative spirit. On the other hand, organizations can make use of this energy and the wealth of ideas as a force for innovation, while gaining a competitive edge on the job market.” At Swisscom, he has witnessed the high level of motivation Kickbox brings out in employees as they advocate their own ideas and put their full energy into their projects. It also boosts their confidence as they put their ideas out there and gain valuable feedback.
On the flip side, companies are exposed to the wealth of ideas and creativity that already exist within their organization. Of course, projects that make it to the BlueBox or GoldBox stages add significant value to the business, but there are many additional effects. Some ideas are implemented in other business areas or flow into existing projects, or lead to new collaborations. However, some aspects are more difficult to measure or gauge but prove invaluable for organizations in the long run.
"The learning effect is tremendous."
Kickbox is an ideal way to offer employees time and resources for on-going development. It challenges them, teaches them new approaches and methods, and provides them with a wealth of new experiences. Based on his experience with Kickbox at Swisscom, Hans Werner can confirm: “The learning effect and growth seen in those who go through the Kickbox program is tremendous. After all, you learn the most by doing. You can go through as many case studies as you like, but that remains a theoretical exercise. With Kickbox, employees are making and executing their very own case studies.”
Most importantly, the skills gained are transferable, and many Kickboxers find themselves using them in their everyday roles – approaching challenges in a completely different way once they’ve been through the program. For example, the feedback sessions that are part of all the Kickbox phases prove useful when they find themselves giving or receiving feedback in the future. All of this flows back into enabling employees to take the lead when it comes to their own development, and that also means taking on responsibility for it, which can really help them flourish.
"Culture isn’t a product of chance."
Some might read this and think, “well, that wouldn’t work at my organization; we’re not ready for that.” Swisscom has indeed spent many years building up this culture of innovation and independence and the frameworks that support it. However, Hans Werner points out that “Kickbox is a great entry point and a perfect first step to creating a culture of innovation and trust. If your organization truly wants to drive the culture towards more creativity, personal responsibility, and development, Kickbox gives you a way to test the waters and build up gradually from there. Corporate culture isn’t a product of chance; it’s something that requires time, money, and trial and error.” But if a company does nothing to cultivate a particular culture, they might get one they didn’t want. By taking hold of the steering wheel, an organization can develop a culture that attracts and retains the best talent and makes the most of existing talent. By introducing a program like Kickbox, organizations send a clear signal to their employees – we believe in you and your creativity, we want to get to know that side of you, and we trust you with this time and these resources.This alone is a considerable accelerator when it comes to finding out how to cultivate a culture of innovation, trust, and creativity in an organization.
Yes, Kickbox holds power to drive innovation with new products, services, or approaches. But it does so much more. It is a vehicle for sustainable change within organizations that cultivates an open culture of innovation, attracting top talent and equipping them with the skills they need to face the challenges of the future. Hans Werner considers this to be key to his work in HR: “Human Resources’ golden nugget is cultural transformation, that’s the big motivator.”