Pilz Nederland: Managing towards happiness, doubling the profit

2012 – ‘Pilz Nederland’ monitors the safety of people, for example in the industry. This innovative company has 35 employees who have a lot of specific knowledge and expertise. Therefor it is important to maintain these people. However, staff turnover was relatively high: talent was snapped up by the competition or employees started as self-employed worker. With a clear effect on the operating result. Pilz therefore decided to manage on ‘luck’. The result: happy employees and a doubling of profits.
Jan Tournois, director of Pilz Nederland, explains that the products of  Pilz monitor the safety of humans, for example in industry, rail, locks and bridges. " Our safety switches and sensors can ‘see’ whether the worker stands in a safe area to work with a machine. We are a leading, innovative company in automation technology and offer customized solutions."  Pilz Nederland is in the first place a knowledge-intensive organization. “Our employees have to be well educated technically and well aware of laws and regulations. It is indeed about people’s safety."
Technological, innovative, knowledge-intensive and working with laws and regulations on safety, that is what makes working at Pilz challenging and interesting. But up to five years ago this was not the feeling in the company.

The change came with the cooperation with Nolost Capital, a consulting firm specialized in the optimization of human capital in an organization. “Nolost Capital came inside like a bolt. We started to look at the cause of dissatisfaction among employees using their scientific approach. So, we didn’t do an ordinary employee satisfaction survey because then you measure only symptoms, but we looked at the intrinsic motivation of the individual."
This cooperation has led Pilz to using a new methodology and now it really ‘manages on happiness’ and it has a complete package to get and hold  its employees intrinsically motivated.
“When we were doing the first study I told my people that we were going to focus on improving the labor happiness. Except for one person, everyone participated. When we did the research for a second time, we had a response score of one hundred percent. Everyone sees the importance of this approach. And everyone experiences the difference."
Pilz Nederland has vetted the whole company department by department in a few  years’ time. The challenge was  to create appropriate conditions for individual success and happiness at work, starting from the intrinsic motivation of employees. The whole process has brought Jan more than he had ever imagined. For example it turned out that the actual need of employees to be able to perform, deviates fully from what he assumed. The deviation was more than 25%. “According Nolost Capital this is a normal value. The assumption that you have as a manager because you think you know your staff, is not correct." Jan: “We always think that you should reward people with more salary and a bigger car to keep them motivated. But this is not at all the case with our people. Seeing and exploiting the personal motives and the available talent of employees, will create really happy employees."

Workplace innovation
The investigation led to several changes immediately. “There was little feedback in the company while there wás a need for that. The whole company received training in giving and receiving feedback. The internal communication is greatly improved. New facts of the departments or teams that are interesting for the entire company are now shared across the organization via the intranet. Thus the involvement of our employees, who often work on site, is greatly increased."
Exploiting the different talents of the people is by Pilz included in jobcrafting now. Together with Nolost Capital employees looked critically at their tasks. Questions such as:  ‘what tasks do you find less interesting and can you hand over those tasks to a colleague?’, led to a mutual redistribution of tasks where possible. “This allows for variation in the work and development of employees."
Even when recruiting for new jobs they find at Pilz the talent and motivation of the candidate more significant than a specific certification. “In practice, this means that we work with a wider profile to look for the right person. It is the personality and the person him- or herself, which are central to the recruiting process.
Jan is not ready at Pilz Nederland. He wants to share this new way of thinking and working with other Pilz sites.  “We go for happy people in a safe environment with safe machinery. And worldwide. We want to share all the benefits that we have encountered with other entrepreneurs. So that they also experience more energy, efficiency, enthusiasm, passion and happiness!"


Pilz has happier employees now. The profit doubled and there is an increase in productivity. The absenteeism is less than 1%. And there is growth both in turnover and in volume.

Interview Syntens by Leontine Vreeke. And see the company’s website: https://www.pilz.com/nl-NL