How to adapt your work culture to tap into your staff's passion

CFO Sheldon Friedericksen explains how Fedgroup gamified its employees' work experience - with stellar results.

The world is changing faster than ever before. This change is not set to slow down, in fact, it’s exponential and unstoppable. For a CFO, this means the financial models and business strategies we are responsible for have to be flexible enough to account for a rapid pace of change. Now more than ever, we have to be agile in our adaptability lest we quickly fade into irrelevance. And that goes beyond the finances of an organisation. Far beyond.

In changing times, a key differentiator for any business is its people. As new generations enter the workforce, it is critical that we change the way we motivate our human capital. Staff need to want to be employed in a business and that means tapping into something far deeper than a good salary and the 15-day leave cycle.

Extrinsic benefits will always play a role and remuneration will remain a primary motivator. If you’re not paying fairly in the market then you will fail to attract talent. However, in the current workplace, this is not the differentiator of the day. Not anymore. 

It is the intrinsic rewards that truly motivate people. Values, culture, purpose – this is what resonates with the modern employee. If these are not in place, organisations will find top talent jumping ship at the first whiff of a higher salary. 

If businesses want to change from the inside out, they need to break down silos and create cross-functional teams – starting with the most symbiotic of departments – finance and human resources. 

It’s time to coexist and strategically work together to move the organisation forward without leaving anyone behind with unnecessary restructuring. Wouldn’t you rather empower your people to come with you on this journey? Although, sometimes it does mean helping individuals realise that this is not the organisation for them and empowering them to seek a more suitable position.  

In the last five years, Fedgroup has grown from 90 to 165 employees. While this growth is substantial, the real star statistic is our staff turnover, which sits at just under 2.5 percent per annum. Why? Because people are passionate about working at Fedgroup and this is demonstrated in the way we do business. 

In terms of staff complement, we are a fairly young company, but the company recognised a long time ago that we needed to adapt to a new generation, so we made our values more colloquial, relaxed the dress code and completely changed the way we approached performance management. 

We gamified the working experience using predictive measurements that help our employees understand their purpose within the business. Using our single administration system that analyses our data across all our product lines, we built the world of Fedtropolis – a living, breathing digital world populated by avatars that resemble our employees. When our teams succeed, the world grows.

Much like a video game, we give our teams weekly, monthly and yearly targets in the form of quests. These quests appear on screens throughout the business showing everyone the progress that has been made. As the quests are completed, the world grows and thrives. 

Next to the main Fedtropolis screen on our operations floor is a vending machine. When we reach certain scores and achieve our quests, the vending machine opens and everyone on the floor gets to indulge in some free snacks and treats. This is the instant and short-term gratification that a younger workforce thrives on. 

On top of our gamification initiative, our employee of the month programme provides another unique experience that quite literally drives our employees. Once selected by our CEO, the winning employee doesn’t get your standard email props and gift voucher. They get to drive a Mercedes SLK for a month. This is the kind of motivation that inspires a new level of passion and effort. It’s exciting, it’s tangible and it’s worth pursuing.

The growth of your business will always be linked to the success of your people. Robotic process automation and machine learning may become the norm faster than we expect, but the people that grow your business will remain your key differentiator. So why not put a little more effort into understanding what drives them? When you put people before profit and permeate that through everything you do, growth will be inevitable and exponential.