Easi has been Belgium’s Best Medium-Sized Workplace for nine years in a row. And this year, they’re the #3 Best Workplace in Europe, too.
So, how does this cloud, security and software provider stand out from the rest? By incorporating culture into their company vision. And, perhaps most importantly, by offering all employees the opportunity to take literal ownership in the company’s success.
As of the date of this publication, around 30% of Easi employees are shareholders in the company. There are no external shareholders. Easi is one of only three known companies in Belgium to offer this option to its employees.
To accommodate both the French and Dutch markets in Belgium, Easi has two CEOs. Thomas van Eekhout and Jean-François Herremans lead the company together and communicate as one. Especially when it comes to the company’s culture. “In too many companies, culture is something that just happens. At Easi, we are convinced that our culture is the result of consistently focusing on our values and our colleagues’ needs,” they say. “Really understanding what drives our people enables us to align their ambitions with the company’s strategic goals.”
According to Corralie Themelin, Business Consultant at Easi, that ambition/goal alignment is an ever-present force in the company. “Making Easi a better company tomorrow is part of everyone’s personal goal,” she says. “I’ve never experienced a workplace in which everyone is so engaged in making the company grow.”
CEO of your own career
But it’s not just owning shares in the company that helps keep people engaged. Thomas and Jean-François work every day to make ownership the name of the game. “Opening up the capital of our company is just one way we help employees take ownership. By focusing on personal growth and being very explicit about what we expect, people can be the CEOs of their own careers, too.”
Corralie says this blend of strong leadership and personal responsibility is sparking some serious energy in the company. “Every Easi employee has some kind of fire within them. But being challenged only works if someone is setting objectives and goals with you. Managers’ commitment to making their own teams evolve results in a circle of positive vibes and energies, and guarantees everyone’s personal development.”
Free Talk that enlightens
Thomas and Jean-François explain why their success is all about being both supportive and realistic. “CEOs should allow people to take on responsibility without being afraid that they will make mistakes. A culture where people can try new things in a safe context. We back this up with strong programs like our onboarding academy, intense follow-up and coaching mechanisms, Easi Experience events, and the ‘Free Talk’ sessions where we respond transparently to all questions and concerns.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, feeling “safe” is also part of what helps Corralie and her colleagues take bigger chances. “The most empowering part is that you never get bored, and you never stop evolving. Every task you master means a new task you get to learn. But you learn in a safe environment, in which your manager and colleagues support you no matter what.”
Making a phase-out plan
Easi might also be one of the few companies in Europe that gives its Executive Committee a very specific shelf life. “Our founder, Salvatore Curaba, taught us that a true leader is able to step aside when new talent is coming,” say Thomas and Jean-François. “We now have a phase-out plan for our entire Executive Committee, so that we’re forced to make way for up-and-coming talent.”
And Corralie says leadership sets the tone that drives team success. “Every member of the team feels seen and valued. Everyone has the opportunity to both teach and learn. And even our personal objectives are tied to the collective results, which can only be achieved when we work together.”
Balancing happiness and performance
It’s no accident that Easi has claimed the spot for Best Medium Sized Workplace in Belgium nine years running. But Thomas and Jean-François also credit the honor with driving their growth. “Being named a Best Workplace so consistently has helped us create a strong employer brand. And that empowers us to create a context in which people can actually balance happiness at work with performance at work. We consider our Best Workplace status to be one of the main drivers of our 100% growth in the past four years.”
“When I talk to friends, I realise that not everyone gets the chance to express their opinion and have a true impact at their job,” Corralie says. “I’m not sure I could talk as openly at another company as I do at Easi. My friends are always amazed when I tell them how incredibly good I feel in my team, and how easy it is to talk to my manager.” She cites the many ways in which she can communicate with management as one of the reasons. From weekly one-on-ones with team leaders to monthly team meetings, to those ‘Free Talk’ sessions with the CEOs, in which no question is off-limits.
Walking a new path
Want to become a legendary company that tops the Best Workplaces list, year after year? Do things differently. Remember that your time as a leader is limited. Make the biggest impact by enabling your people to be the CEOs of their own careers. And, if possible, also shareholders in your company’s success.