By Heikki Väänänen, CEO & Founder | HappyOrNot
My latest Forbes article sees me musing over employee communication and the need for cross-team collaboration. As businesses, it’s often our top priority to communicate as often as we can with customers, but this sometimes comes at the neglect of our staff. I’ve seen countless examples of companies around the world caring more about their next sale or deal than they do about their employees, and can’t help but think that if as much effort was put into talking to employees as it was with customers and partners, it’s genuinely awe-inspiring to think what organizations could achieve at an operational level.
I’ve been thinking a lot about internal communication recently because we’ve launched our new Real-time Collaboration solution, which helps managers and frontline teams use data to detect issues as soon as they arise, communicate responses internally, and then rectify them. We came up with the idea after consulting with our customers, who told us of their experiences of struggling to quickly react to problems, whether that’s customers complaining about long wait times at airport security or shop shelves that need stocking. Often frontline staff simply weren’t aware of the issue and so couldn’t solve them quickly, so we decided to offer a solution that sends automated push notifications through the HappyOrNot mobile reporting app whenever the number of negative or positive responses from designated Smiley Terminal and Smiley Touch products exceeds a preset value.
Once these alerts are sent, managers and frontline staff are able to acknowledge the alert and comment on the situation as it unfolds. All within the app, they are able to communicate and issue direct instructions and on how to handle the situation. For example, if ‘wait time’ is a commonly-cited problem on a Smiley Touch, receiving frequent dark red negative feedbacks, retail employees will be alerted to this and can open a new checkout in response, while also telling their colleagues the issue should be solved.
The solution helps to rectify problems quickly, which is crucial for customer experience, but at its heart it’s all about team collaboration and empowering staff to make a difference.
Nordic companies like HappyOrNot are famed for their happy working culture and ‘flat’ or ‘horizontal’ team structure, in which there are few, or sometimes even zero, hierarchal levels between management and staff. Typically there is less supervision of employees and the structure aims to promote increased involvement with organizational decision-making, enabling open communication between all departments and teams within a business.
The Scandinavian flat working structure is often revered for its success in creating an environment where all employees are equal and included, with the delineation of authority and communication more transparent and inclusive of all team members. Many organizations have, in recent years, looked to restructure in order to incorporate flat working environments into their businesses. Of course, much of the work revolves around opening up communication channels between different teams and departments within the company.
We are proud of the culture we’ve fostered at HappyOrNot, and always welcome employees to provide their input and opinions. We also encourage teams to collaborate freely to ensure that there is a spread of ideas and creative thinking.