Constant improvement is key and this requires listening to employees. Use a digital tool where all employees can make their voices heard and provide instant feedback, ideally anonymously. We actually use Winningtemp, ourselves, to gather real-time anonymous comments on ways to improve the business.
As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pierre Lindmark.
Pierre Lindmark the CEO & co-founder of Winningtemp, the AI-powered employee engagement platform enabling businesses to manage and motivate their teams: whether in-office or remote. An entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in computer science, as well as artificial intelligence, Pierre also boasts over 11 years of practical experience working with HR solutions. Following time spent with CEOs and company leaders, he began to realise the need for a tool that could capture employees’ feelings and reactions effectively. Combining his expertise in cloud services and software for learning management systems, he founded Winningtemp with CTO Mathias Hansson.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It was actually a bit of a coincidence, though I have always been intrigued by the relationship between technology, human cognition, and science. Back in 2004, having completed my Master of Science in Intelligent Systems Design, I found myself contributing to a national project to reduce sick leave in Sweden. Working alongside researchers and experts from Karolinska Institute, I quickly began to understand the need for combining science with digital solutions in order to combat the increasing levels of poor health among the workforce, and above all else, I realized my passion for working on something that could make such a big impact on people and society at large.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
We started a pilot innovation project with a major insurance company in Sweden, together with researchers at the University of Gothenburg, to use AI technology in order to predict potential sick leave. Out of a few hundred members of staff, our system identified 30 people to be at risk and gave them a recommendation for intervention, depending on the situation. After a year of use, we were able to get clear feedback on the ways in which the technology had enabled the proactive mitigation of negative employee sentiment. This was when we first realized the true potential of Winningtemp.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, and that project is Winningtemp! I spend every day helping companies and organizations create better workplaces and working environments for their employees. With every new company we onboard, we know that we are taking a step closer to helping drive engagement, satisfaction and wellbeing for even more workers. Our data demonstrates to us, in hard numbers, that our technology can be successfully deployed to reduce both sick leave and stress and also make people feel and, therefore, perform, better at work.
Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?
When it comes to business culture there’s a huge difference between the United States and Europe, particularly Northern Europe where we are based, and I think that forms part of the explanation. When we started Winningtemp, we collected data from more than 600 validated scientific studies to identify common factors which drive organizational success globally and found that employee engagement and wellbeing are key factors. In the Nordics, the importance of work-life balance cannot be understated — take a look at our parental leave policies, for example. On top of this, companies often operate a flat organizational structure which means that employees are actively involved in decision making and thus feel empowered and engaged.
Fundamentally reshaping the working culture in the United States is of course no mean feat, but it is safe to assume that if employers adopted some of the practices that are commonplace in Europe, employee happiness would increase.
Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?
I’ll again come back not only to our own experience and what we see in our own data, but also to what empirical research tells us about this. An unhappy workforce will, without a doubt, lead to poor productivity, higher levels of stress, increased sick leave, and even spiraling staff turnover, all of which contribute to lower profitability. But unhappy workforces don’t just affect the organization in which they reside, these workers also exist in wider society and any negativity caused by the workplace can easily have an impact on an individual’s life outside of the office.
We all know the feeling of ‘bringing work back home’, and to an extent this is just a normal part of having a career, but if stress and work-related unhappiness frequently manifest within people’s personal lives then the consequences can be severe, from damaged relationships to long-lasting issues related to both mental health and even physical health.
Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?
1. Get to know your team as individuals. Create a ‘vision board’ for all your employees and try to get an understanding of their inner motivation, superpowers (what it is they excel at) and dreams. This is something that I have, personally, begun to do with each new employee that joins.
2. Create the company’s values and goals together with your employees. Your company is evolving in an agile world and therefore your values must also be re-designed during the journey and made together with the employees. This is something that we have already done twice during our journey so far and I can say from first-hand experience that it creates pride and a genuine motivation among employees to live by them.
3. Transparency and openness are key! Be humble and share what happens even when things go wrong. This will help to create an organization with trust and a culture where it is acceptable to make mistakes and learn from them. Use real-time data to share strengths as well as what can be improved, and aim for a 80–20 split.
4. Constant improvement is key and this requires listening to employees. Use a digital tool where all employees can make their voices heard and provide instant feedback, ideally anonymously. We actually use Winningtemp, ourselves, to gather real-time anonymous comments on ways to improve the business.
5. Give feedback regularly. Again, we use our own technology to give regular digital praise but also have follow-up and development discussions with each employee every quarter.
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?
That is a really big and broad question indeed, but it’s not as hard as it seems at first glance. In fact, quite a few of the newer generation of companies in the US are already leading the way in instilling positive working cultures. As the saying goes, it can, of course, be difficult to teach an old dog new tricks, however, I would strongly argue that a key part of the solution is to create room for next generation leaders to inspire the old guard in this matter.
How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?
I was chosen as a finalist for this year’s Innovative leader in Sweden and had to do an evaluation of my leadership. I am a curious and humble person, with a focus on constantly evolving. My leadership is visionary, and I try to inspire other people to turn ideas into action. At the same time, I am a straightforward person and also very fact-based. My belief in creating innovation is to experiment, but very quickly choose the path with the help of facts and then have laser focus and discipline to achieve fast results.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I was very lucky to start my first real software company with a serial entrepreneur named Yngve Örum. Having worked on a number of different entrepreneurial projects prior to this, I had the opportunity to develop my skills further, and quickly, particularly when it came to my mindset. The difference between being successful or not is about the time you are willing to put in to get better, but rather it is about pushing past your comfort zone and improving your mindset. In the end, it’s just a matter of attitude, behavior and what actions you take every day to move forward. I remember a special event during the startup phase after working for a long time without pay, when we had no customers and I was borrowing money from parents -my frustration was very much in dealing with negative feelings and thoughts from the past.
My biggest lesson from Yngve was to train myself in dealing with emotions, to focus more on the future instead of dwelling on the past, and to take action to get there and visualize success every day.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I think that is actually the core of what we at Winningtemp do, every day. Our belief is that better workplaces help create better communities. The fact of the matter is, most adults spend a majority of their waking hours at work. If their work environments allow them to feel engaged and thrive then this will only have a positive impact on the companies they work for and, ultimately, society at large. My dream would be to find a way to measure the wider positive impact of what we do. Beyond reducing sick leave and burnout, what is the greater effect of a person enjoying work, feeling seen and appreciated by their colleagues. In my mind, this person will be a better partner, parent, neighbour and citizen with much more positive energy to share with society and I would love to be able to quantify that.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Happiness is not reaching your goal. Happiness is being on the way” — Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA
I used to be incredibly goal-oriented. I was focused on the big picture, and once I reached one goal I would quickly move onto the next and, as such, never truly felt a sense of fulfillment despite my many achievements. Over time, I taught myself to celebrate every little success and capture, daily, any development made.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Praise those around you as often as you can. Every single person has their own super power, the key lies in unleashing their potential. It takes very little to increase motivation, energy, and make people feel good by telling them what they are doing is great.