TomTom Leans Into Employee Wellbeing During a Global Pandemic
“We were quite lucky that we already had a way of checking in on our employees when COVID-19 broke out. This enabled us to start running those pulse surveys and understand what was top of mind and how we can support our employees best.”
Bart Bolger, VP HR Brand & Locations, TomTom
TomTom has long been known as a consumer product company, but in the last ten years transformed into a leading B2B software company. The organisation develops the most reliable maps, navigation software, traffic, and live services for the automotive industry, enterprises, and developers worldwide. TomTom is led by original co-founder Harold Goddijn and is headquartered in Amsterdam, with 42 offices across 30 countries for its 4,500+ diverse employees.
TomTom has always wanted its employees to experience a great working atmosphere, where everyone can be who they are, have fun, and do their best work. The organisation understood how important employee listening was, and wanted a way to align the business strategy with the people strategy.
Previously, TomTom surveyed its employees once every 12-18 months and followed a traditional approach to employee engagement. Because gathering the results took a decent amount of time, the data collected lost its relevance by the time managers received it. Managers and teams would lose momentum and action plans would falter. The organisation needed a solution that could provide a deeper analysis to get to the core of what employees were feeling and asking for in real time. Leaders wanted to make engagement a more continuous, embedded solution so it would become part of everyone’s day-to-day routine.
“We want to make sure that people who work for TomTom are deeply engaged and feel that TomTom is a company where you can keep on learning, but also have a job that matters to you and gives you purpose,” said Bart Bolger, VP HR Brand & Locations at TomTom. “We need to drive actions that matter to people and engagement surveys are the best prediction of that.”
TomTom began its partnership with Glint in summer of 2019 to begin embedding engagement into the rhythm of the business. The organisation uses Glint to measure engagement throughout the entire employee lifecycle, beginning with onboarding, through ongoing engagement and exit.
In the design of its survey programme, TomTom put a strong emphasis on employees leaving comments. The leadership team uses the comment sentiment analysis to pull keywords out to easily understand the bright spots of the employee experience, and what needs to be improved upon. Managers use these focused insights to create a more meaningful and impactful experience for their employees, and use their customized action plans to become the drivers for specific changes on their teams. Managers who have access to their action plans also make use of the platform’s integration with LinkedIn Learning to further their management and leadership skills based on their team’s results.
In anticipation of TomTom’s first survey launch with Glint in October 2019, the organisation leaned into its communication channels to build excitement and intrigue. Posters were hung up around the offices with different questions to get employees to start thinking about the survey and what was most important to them. Managers were excited about the opportunity to understand what drives their teams’ behaviors.
While employee wellbeing has always been top of mind for TomTom, when COVID-19 became a global pandemic in March 2020, the organisation wanted to ensure employees were feeling supported. “We were quite lucky that we already had a way of checking in on our employees when COVID-19 broke out,” said Bart. “This enabled us to start running those pulse surveys and understand what was top of mind and how we can support our employees best.”
Leadership wanted to know how they could help employees with factors like emotional support, work/life balance, IT equipment/set up from home, as well as to understand their critical needs and most pressing concerns. By July 2020, they launched three COVID-19 check-in surveys and used results to help and support employees during these unprecedented times.
The first crisis-related pulse launched in March and led leadership to discover that while employees were happy with the amount of communication that they were receiving, they felt the communication was inconsistent and often left them confused. Leadership responded quickly, creating a company-wide portal to house all COVID-related information.
The second pulse in April saw response rates increase by 10%. Leaders had added new questions about collaboration, focus, and manager support. In turn, employees responded that they felt it was difficult to set and achieve their objectives and needed additional support both professionally and emotionally. Training programs were swiftly set up to help employees understand how to better set objectives and a buddy program was created to lend more emotional support to those who needed it.
The organisation pulsed once again in July, this time with a focus on understanding TomTom’s future. The aim was to understand how employees felt about returning to offices and what their biggest concerns were. TomTom plans to use this data to help create its return-to-office plans, and also to understand what a remote workforce can look like.
Bart and his team recognized that while the pandemic has been rough on everyone, engagement has actually increased, a rise his team attributes to frequent communication and surveying of employees. “We always want to know what concerns our employees have and how we can help them. If there is a group that is less engaged, we want to understand how we can make them more engaged,” added Bart. The team has been able to use the data from the October pulse and crisis pulses to prove that engagement has risen. Comparing the group of disengaged employees from the October pulse to the recent July pulse, 48% of employees have moved from the disengaged group to the engaged group.
In the months to come, TomTom plans to act even faster on driving results based on the insights to increase engagement and reduce unwanted attrition. Using predictive analytics, Bart’s team will work closely with unit leaders to tackle any issues that they foresee arising. They plan to continue implementing surveys as often as necessary to ensure they are keeping the connection to employees and making TomTom an even greater place to work.