18 October 2018

TUIgether Heroes: Heroes of Change

Annual employee survey TUIgether fosters internal change process at TUI

TUI Group’s annual employee survey is called TUIgether. It provides feedback on potential for improvement, employees’ views and opinions about TUI and their level of satisfaction with the organisation. Once the results of the survey have been received, the real work begins: Managers analyse the results for their own teams and prepare action plans defining specific projects with their teams. This approach ensures that the results will lead to a follow-up process creating specific changes at all levels. These changes may differ greatly, ranging from the introduction of a new system for the preparation of rosters for cabin crews so as to enhance planning security (and therefore work-life balance) all the way to smaller measures only affecting a small number of employees. Some changes may be so surprisingly simple that they will make you wonder: Why hasn’t anybody come up with this idea before? 

In the framework of the TUIgether communication campaign, some of the follow-up projects and their initiators – the TUIgether Heroes – are presented on the Intranet. Today, we present Sebastiaan de Vries, who works for TUI in the Caribbean, as a representative of many other TUIgether Heroes and exciting projects.

TUIgether Hero: Sebastiaan de Vries

Although our TUIgether Hero Sebastiaan de Vries has taken up the position as Head of TUI Dutch Caribbean just a year ago, he has made a jump start and launched several initiatives based on the TUIgether findings. His focus areas? Cooperation, exchange and leadership. “When things are going well in these areas and our employees are satisfied with it, then we can best tackle the challenges of our daily business”, Sebastiaan explains. 

In his position, he oversees both the office in Willemstad, Curaçao, and the field office in Aruba. “We have a very diverse working environment here with employees from four different entities: TUI Aviation, TUI fly Netherlands, TUI Dutch Caribbean (Tour Operator) and TUI Destination Experience. That makes the tasks and the skill set of the colleagues here very wide-ranging”, Sebastiaan explains. Against this background, cooperation both within and between the different departments becomes even more important, a finding that has also been reflected in last year’s TUIgether results. 

That’s why Sebastiaan launched the TUI time lunch, an initiative where one colleague from each department is invited for a 1,5 hours lunch. “Even though we work for different areas, we have similar challenges and can learn a lot from each other”, says Sebastiaan. “We bring different people together to talk about what is going on in their field of expertise”. Exchanging information and ideas is not the only benefit of the TUI time lunch. It is also a great way of getting to know different colleagues and creating a network. “There is just one rule”, Sebastiaan adds. “You have to bring it back to your team, tell them about what you’ve learned and share the experience”. 

Another initiative introduced by Sebastiaans Leadership team is the Buddy System for the TUI Curaçao WorkXperience that is offering young talents from Curaçao and the Netherlands the opportunity to gain work experience in both countries. “These young colleagues are only here for a period of six months. It is important that they have a smooth start, so they can fully use their time here”, explains Sebastiaan. Therefore, he and his team pair the newly arrived youngsters with more experienced colleagues from the customer service to help them with all their questions. Sebastiaan is convinced, that the initiative works both ways and that everybody benefits, because it fosters an exchange of perspectives and views. “Our colleagues bring the experience and the youngsters bring their fresh ideas and opinions. TUIgether showed us that employees value more exchange and knowledge sharing. The buddy system also helps with that.”

Sebastiaan also took action in the field of leadership and introduced the Leadership Essential Program with the Management Team of Dutch Caribbean. “The training helps all of us to get a common understanding of what leadership means at TUI”, he assures. “By taking the training, managers get involved and are empowered to guide their teams. It is also a great way of sharing our thoughts and fostering our network”, Sebastiaan says. Moreover, he now spends one afternoon every two weeks working from another department. During this “ask me anything” time, he answers questions from employees and listens to their comments and feedback. “For me, it is a great way of really getting to know the different departments and the people working there. For the employees, it is much easier to approach me and talk about any issue that has been keeping them busy.”

One of Sebastiaans biggest learnings during the implementation of all these initiatives was that it is very important to introduce continuous processes. “I wanted the initiatives to really change something for the employees here. That’s why I really had to stay on top of it, stay focused and be persistent. Those measures are only successful when they are being followed-up upon.” For Sebastiaan, TUIgether is a powerful tool to help managers with that. “It tells me if we are heading in the right direction. The honest feedback of our employees is the best way to know what works and what doesn’t”. Asked about his motivation to participate in TUIgether Pulse he laughs and replies “Happy people. That’s it.”