The company began as a small startup. Now, 20 years on, there’s a natural place for Else in the market for IT solutions for production and logistics, with clients such as Åhléns, Claes Ohlson and Gekås. Nurturing staff is a crucial key to success, and Else has been working with Flourish for the last two years to reinforce this initiative and enhance its focus on staff.
It’s almost 35 years since Stefan Bertling, CEO of Else, started working in automation. Technology has developed at a cracking pace ever since, and now demand has spread to more and more sectors.
“In those days, automation was seen mainly in the automotive industry, with autonomous forklifts, for example. Now we can see how more and more businesses are making the same journey towards streamlining their operations,” he explains.
E-commerce companies are some of the new start-ups where automation is now progressing rapidly, but other retail, storage and wholesale companies are also looking increasingly to IT solutions to streamline operations and enhance delivery quality.
“Automated picking systems in the retail sector, for example, allow companies to guarantee high quality deliveries to clients while maintaining lower staffing levels. This is a valuable initiative, especially during the evenings and nights and at weekends,” says Stefan Bertling.
A number of companies have consulted Else for custom solutions to their needs, and this IT company that was once tiny has grown steadily since its inception and now has 35 staff and offices in Gothenburg and Trollhättan in Sweden and Vejle in Denmark.
The journey to success
Else was founded by Stefan Bertling and six colleagues in 2001. The emphasis in those days was on large clients in the manufacturing industry, and as a small start-up the company initially found it challenging to get the business up and running.
“We had plenty of personal experience, but it was really hard to get that first reference client for our unknown fledgling company,” reminisces Stefan Bertling.
Focus on staff driving the company forward
Things moved quickly after the first few jobs started rolling in, and now Else is a well-known name in the market for IT solutions for production and logistics. After a couple of decades in the industry, Stefan Bertling can clearly see the important elements in the company’s success.
“Else is nothing without its reference clients and staff,” he notes.
He repeats several times over how the staff are the drivers of the company’s success.
“Our staff are hugely important to us. Their expertise is fairly unique in the field we work in, and we’ve built up a great deal of expertise among our staff. It takes a long time to train a replacement when someone leaves, so we feel it’s really important to look after our staff,” he says.
Flourish helps Else with agile leadership
This focus on staff was also the reason why Else started using Flourish almost two years ago. Being able to monitor the well-being of the team by means of statistics and data-based analyses has been very valuable, as has direct feedback from our staff,” reckons Stefan Bertling. The option of leaving comments anonymously has been used a great deal.
“It’s been useful to gauge how people are feeling, but also to find out more about what people are thinking – getting comments that nobody would tell me to my face. Bringing up uncomfortable issues anonymously can be easier. On a number of occasions, people have ended up phoning me directly for a chat, but I think the option of leaving anonymous comments has been important as a way of persuading people to lower their guard and initiate the discussion,” says Stefan Bertling.
Comments have been made about work-related matters, but many have also referred to problems in people’s private lives.
“A lot of the information we get from the tool relates to people’s private lives, but of course that also affects their work situation. To be productive, it’s vital for you to feel okay as well,” says Stefan Bertling.
Direct feedback has facilitated quick action and more agile leadership, he reckons.
“It’s important to be able to act quickly and do something about problems as they arise. It’s not good for staff themselves or the company if people are going round feeling bad about things,” he says.
Dedicated teams a prerequisite for focus on clients
Focusing on each client’s unique needs and devising solutions that match them is an important element in what Else does. To achieve this, you need dedicated staff who’d prefer to ask additional questions rather than just take the quickest route.
“For me, efficiency is all about finding out what needs to be done and doing things correctly right from the outset. That’s more important than making sure things are done quickly. All our systems are mission-critical. Our clients include a subcontractor to Volvo Cars. If they have problems, Volvo can’t build its cars. We sort meat products using robots for three major food chains in Scandinavia, and if those systems fail, customers will find there are no meat products in the shops the next day. Finding out what the client needs and what they’re expecting is vital for us. Not only do dedicated staff members do what they have to do, they go that extra mile as well. And they take action when they see something starting to going wrong, too,” says Stefan Bertling.
Participation creates commitment
But how do you create commitment in the workplace? Stefan Bertling believes one important element in that is to involve staff in the work.
“It’s all a matter of telling people what’s going on in the company, but you also need to let them know when things are going well, or when a client praises us. You can’t just complain when things are going badly,” says Stefan Bertling.
Taking the pulse of the company using Flourish and reviewing the metrics at monthly meetings has been a good way of keeping staff up to date on the situation, but it also shows that their input is important and that the company takes it seriously.
The journey continues
Many companies have experienced tough times during the COVID-19 pandemic, with orders on the decline and staff redundancies. The challenge Else is facing is quite the opposite.
“We’ve been incredible busy, so for us the challenge has been not to work too hard,” says Stefan Bertling.
The company has already taken on four new staff this year and is expecting to appoint more in the autumn. Continuing to create a workplace with dedicated staff who enjoy their work and want to remain with the company is one of Stefan Bertling’s most crucial focus areas going forward.
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