In September of this year, I had a chance to sit down with Pim de Mrree, the co-founder and CEO of Corporate Rebels, on the Disrupt Yourself podcast. de Morree is a fascinating young entrepreneur who left a promising, more conventional career in 2016 to found a research and consulting firm, Corporate Rebels, with his childhood friend and business partner Joost Minnaar.
Their organization studies successful business leaders and companies around the world who are using somewhat radical HR practices to build better organizations. After years of exploring and researching, Corporate Rebels collected their findings and documented them in a new book, titled “Corporate Rebels: Make Work More Fun.”
In our conversation, de Morree explained some of these cutting-edge HR practices and how he’s applied them to his team at Corporate Rebels to create more transparency, trust, and fun. He says that by rethinking employees salaries, job descriptions, and productivity measurement Corporate Rebels saw higher engagement and business growth—and other companies can do the same.
Here are some of the cutting-edge HR practices de Moree champions, and why.
Instead of establishing rigid salary ranges for specific positions, HR teams can allow employees to establish their own salary and benefit packages.
Traditionally, says de Morree, “Goals are misaligned. The job seeker wants as much compensation as possible, while the employer often wants to pay significantly less.”
To avoid this, Corporate Rebels allows employees to set their own salaries through what de Morree calls the advice process:
“Employees come up with a rough proposal for what they want to earn, and then have to get advice from colleagues who are influenced by that number. After they gather all their advice, the employee decides what to do. So, they are in the end responsible for listening to or ignoring their colleagues and making their final decision on what it is they actually want to earn.”
In order for this strategy to work well, companies have to be extremely transparent with all of their employees about their finances, expenses and salaries. This will not only help employees create affordable, more realistic salary proposals, but foster more trust internally. This strategy also encourages employees to think more critically about the value they bring to the company, and makes salary setting an ongoing evaluation.
“If employees think they deserve a salary bump, they can create a proposal explaining their increased value-add,” explains de Morree. “But they have to prove and defend it. The responsibility falls on them.”
When companies follow job descriptions too closely, it encourages the assumption that whatever is not included in an employee’s description is excluded from their role and should be left to someone else.
“But this doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially not if things change very quickly in your company,” explains de Morree.
Instead, he recommends that teams sit down and enumerate all the tasks necessary to create success for the entire team and cluster those tasks into roles. Then, let people pick up the roles they want, based on their intrinsic motivations. In effect, this strategy allows individuals to craft their own perfect job.
“This strategy can help solve the problem of unmotivated employees,” argues de Morree. “If there are employees who feel stuck in their jobs, or don’t really feel like their greatest talents are being utilized, they can more easily solve this problem.”
de Morree believes that counting hours of work, rather than results is “the most outdated practice we still have in workplaces.”
“We can trust people more than we think we can—and the success of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic proved this to be true,” says de Morree.
Instead of worrying about whether or not employees are doing their work at a certain time and setting expectations around traditional, 9-to-5 structures, create expectations more holistically. At Corporate Rebels, the employees set and announce individual, monthly goals. Then, at the end of the month, the teams reflect to see if employees have actually been able to achieve their self-set targets. If they haven’t, the company looks for ways to help them accomplish them.
As long as employees are delivering the right results, there aren’t any conversations around the amount of hours they spend at work. This strategy creates more flexibility for employees at all levels of the organization and encourages them to create work-life balance in their schedules.
“It not only gives employees the responsibility to create their own schedule, but for them to adopt responsibility for doing a good job,” explains de Morree.
HR professionals can’t be laggards in innovation—and that’s true now more than ever. As remote work continues to be the standard for everyday business operations, organizations need to find better ways to engage and support their employees.
A good first step? Start thinking about new, more inventive strategies for creating more transparency, flexibility and trust internally.
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