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ThinkFM 2015: Work and life in harmony

Frank Van Massenhove, Chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Public Service Social Security, Belgium
Frank Van Massenhove, Chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Public Service Social Security, Belgium

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4 June 2015 | FM World team


Frank Van Massenhove, Chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Public Service Social Security, Belgium 

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Frank Van Massenhove, chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Public Service Social Security in Belgium, said that he had been asked to undertake a major organisational change for what he describes as the “worst ministry in the Western hemisphere”.


Van Massenhove told FM suppliers, consultants, architects and designers gathered for the BIFM’s key industry event that he was tasked with driving the change because “people didn’t want to work for the ministry”.


Van Massenhove said the key to the organisation’s success in retaining employees was about being “a sexy organisation” to attract up-and-coming talent. 


One of the methods to draw in young people (chiefly millennials born after 1986) the ministry had allowed employees to work from home and provided a highly technologically savvy work environment, doing away with offices for senior staff and having a ‘friends and family day’ (when relatives and friends of employees come into the office). 


The ministry also started to allow employees to work from home “when they feel like it”.


Although he said a survey of employees showed that 22 per cent did not want to work from home. 


He said the environment needed an investment of €10 million (£7.2 million), but had been so successful that it had led to €9 million (£6.5 million) in savings every year. 


But Van Massenhove added that the setup did not mean employees not getting results would be given an easy ride. If someone is not doing their job, ”we throw them out”.  


“We are not a soft organisation,” he said. “But most people [who don’t fit in] go before we can throw them out.”


Van Massenhove said traditional organisations did not always choose “maverick” managers but this might be changing. “In Belgium everybody knows we are doing this and mavericks are coming up to us and saying ‘please employ us’.” 


Summary

Allow employees to work from  home “when they feel like it” and around their schedule to increase productivity 

To attract young people you have to provide a technologically savvy working environment

Being employee-friendly doesn’t mean tolerating low quality work.