A family business like Nedlin builds up long-lasting relationships with its employees and invests in people. It is no secret that the company has high expectations of its employees; only motivated go-getters fit into the company's culture. On the other hand, our employees can also expect something in return. Nicole Janssen explains the lengths to which Nedlin goes to ensure a healthy and vital work environment.
A social company
‘The starting point is attention,’ says Janssen decidedly. ‘If you pay genuine attention to your employees, and show that they really count and have a voice, they will give you more in return. In that regard, Nedlin is a true family business, prioritizing family-like values.’ In Janssen's view, this really helps within a company in which people from various different cultures work alongside each other. ‘Being sociable and greeting each other are appreciated in every culture.’
In Janssen's view, that attention is built into the organization at both formal and informal levels. ‘For instance, we have a clear cycle of interviews and meetings for new employees. A trial day is immediately followed by an evaluation to give both parties the chance to discuss whether person is willing and able to come back. There are further evaluation moments after a week and after a month. Such things are really ingrained in our structure.’
“If you regularly take the initiative yourself to start a conversation, people will find it easier to approach you.”
A real voice
Employees who have been with the company for a longer period have other opportunities to have their voice heard. These include the ‘pep talk’ with the production manager during every shift. ‘The first pep talks were predominantly one-way traffic,’ explains Janssen. ‘Now, however, we see that employees are increasingly voicing matters. If someone believes that something could be improved, we often hear about it first during one of these pep talks.’
Besides the production managers, employees can also turn to other people. Janssen sees the informal character of Nedlin as something special. ‘We can all be found on the “shop floor” every day - managers, board members, and myself. That's not the case in many other companies. ‘If you regularly take the initiative yourself to start a conversation, people will find it easier to approach you if they have questions.’
A chance to grow
‘As the lines are so short, I often know about any issues very quickly. For instance, a production manager might give me a tip about the ambitions of a person who is keen to grow. I then hold a discussion with that person to see is there could be a suitable training opportunity for them.’ Nedlin offers its employees a variety of training courses, from BBL-3 BBL-2 programmes – combining classroom learning and practical on-the-job training – to courses for drivers and even language courses for employees who don’t yet speak enough Dutch.
Nedlin also makes great efforts for employees who are ill or who have personal problems. ‘In addition to a company doctor, we also have a dedicated social worker and a physiotherapist. I have been working for Nedlin for more than a year now. At previous employers I never saw managers and a variety of specialists communicating so well with each other in order to prevent or minimize sickness absenteeism.’ This approach has resulted in a low level of sickness absenteeism: 3.3% at Nedlin, compared with the average for the industrial sector of 5%.
Janssen confirms that employees largely perform repetitive tasks in the laundry. ‘That's why we consider it important that people are versatile and able to perform a broad spectrum of tasks in a range of different locations. That way, we can prevent a lot of physical complaints due to overexertion.’
‘We really try to keep employees healthy and vital before any problems appear on the horizon,’ explains Janssen. ‘For that reason, Nedlin recently began providing fruit on a weekly basis, and offers both employees and their partners the chance to go on a course to give up smoking.’
The influence of Nedlin on its employees therefore sometimes reaches as far as their living rooms. ‘Yes, our concern and care extend a long way, but as an employer we have a shared responsibility for increasing awareness among our employees. How they then respond to that, and whether they take any action, is up to each individual employee of course.’