Perfectly aligned: partnering to retain talent in Professional Services

What does it mean to “think Nordic and act local”? Henrik Møhl, Nordic Key Account Director at ISS, tells us how ISS helped one of its clients develop a strategy for unifying services across four European countries—building a partnership for the benefit of all. 

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When a company operates globally, with offices supporting colleagues around the world, a key challenge is ensuring workplace services are delivered equitably—no matter the location. For one global professional services firm, this disconnect was having an impact on employee experience—and their team reached out for ISS’s support in tackling the issue.  
“In terms of facilities, the client already had the best price, but not necessarily the product they wanted for their employees,” says ISS’s Nordic Key Account Director, Henrik Møhl, “and they lacked communication between the four Nordic countries in which they operate—so this is where they looked to us for an answer.”
Disparities in service levels across Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden impacted the professional lives of employees who travelled to different offices, Henrik explains. When comparing the workplace offerings in one country versus another, some would feel dissatisfied—leading to a higher turnover rates. “Our goal was to unite the countries,” he says. 
The scores that matter
To help address this challenge, the ISS team began measuring the client’s services across countries through a user satisfaction index, making changes to the service offerings to help align the scores. 
“It’s not necessarily that the services are aligned in each country, but that the scores are,” explains Henrik. He uses cleaning as an example: “If service users are happy with cleaning in three countries, and one country is behind, you increase cleaning in that country to make sure that service users are equally satisfied.”
While there are clear differences between ISS’s offerings due to country-specific regulations, he tasked four local Key Account Managers to “think Nordic and act local”. 
For instance, the team placed a greater emphasis on at-home screens and equipment for employees in Denmark, where people are more encouraged to work from home, than in Sweden, where a greater proportion work in-office. “That’s how we can adjust our services based on local needs,” says Henrik. 
With catering, meanwhile, the focus was on ensuring the food quality suited each office. “I talk a lot about food,” he laughs. “But it is very important, especially here in Denmark!” 
“The key words were quality in the raw materials, and pride from the staff in what they serve,” adds Henrik. “We asked our teams, ‘What does clean mean to you? Would you sit at this desk? Would you eat this yourself?’”

Henrik Mohl

You don’t just show up because it’s your job: you show up to make a difference for the client.

Henrik Møhl, Nordic Key Account Director, ISS

A transparent business relationship
 In order to deliver these solutions, it was important for ISS and its client to operate on even footing. Having worked with the client for many years, the two businesses formed a unique, collaborative partnership in 2019—a relationship in which both companies are considered equals.

Henrik, who was closely involved in the development of this contract, says: “I was very intrigued, because of the possibilities for collaboration. It’s really about what’s in it for both of us, rather than what's in it for me or what's in it for the client.”
By launching this partnership, ISS could expand their focus on using resources more wisely: “Less is more,” says Henrik. He shares an anecdote highlighting the business benefits of this approach: “One of the CEOs asked me one day how ISS could now offer lunch to employees where it previously couldn’t. And I said: 'It’s not that I wasn’t able; the contract was previously just set up in a way that encouraged a focus on profit rather than quality.’ Having this partnership encourages the right behaviour.”

Transparency is crucial to this he explains, using ISS’s openness around costs as an example. “That honesty just instils a sort of calm in clients, because they won't feel cheated as they might have done before with other suppliers,” says Henrik. “They know exactly what they spend their money on.”

A template for success
In the competitive professional services sector, employee satisfaction is vital to ensuring an organisation attracts and retains talent. “People aren’t just paid to show up and go home,” Henrik says. “So what else can we offer? We have fitness facilities in the basement, we have the best lunch in town, we have the best score on user experiences surveys…”

Since the new partnership launched, he reports that user satisfaction across the region has significantly increased. 

Client trust has improved, too. Measured through a Compatibility and Trust Assessment, the trust level in the relationship has been shown to already be in the top 10% of results. This is something “you don't see normally before five to six years” of a partnership, says Henrik. 

 “That’s probably the biggest difference in this partnership compared to any other contract. You don’t just show up because it’s your job: you show up to make a difference for the client.”

ISS Cleaning window Copyright ISS