By Karissa Barcelo
BI Group is the largest construction company in Kazakhstan, and a leader in their real estate market. They’ve constructed 60% of the buildings in Kazakhstan dominating various sectors including infrastructure, development, services, and retail.
Number of Employees: 6k+
BI Group’s slogan is “we build happiness”, and it’s quite fitting for an organization like theirs who successfully designed their culture with intention, one brick at a time.
They were already the top construction company in Kazakhstan, and had evolved beyond the mindset of their own nation. The work environment in Kazakhstan is traditionally rigid with a lot of structure and order. However, BI Group was innovative and they wanted to approach work with more of a human touch, rooted in values and principles.
Their mission was to scale globally, but first they needed to realize their purpose and really define it. How could they truly live happiness internally, and then “build it” with consistency? Since they were a young company that grew quickly, they struggled with acquiring and retaining top talent.
Their culture index showed people didn’t feel appreciation for their work. In high growth situations, the attention naturally shifts to becoming more customer centric. In time, this is one of the main culprits of a deteriorating employee experience. The high-pressure work environment and the stress of meeting strict deadlines were taking a toll on their management.
They needed to focus on the well-being and morale of their employees in order to sustain. If they were successful, they knew they could improve the quality of the services they offered attracting a pool of loyal clients.
After reading the Delivering Happiness book, their top leaders invited Jenn Lim to Dubai to tell her story. They proceeded with an intensive DH Masterclass where they learned about happiness culture, the science of happiness, and positive psychology. “We were infected by this idea,” says Sofiya Akmesheva, Corporate Event Manager, and later, Head of The Happiness Department.
The DH Masterclass inspired their culture transformation program. Together, BI Group and the coach|sultants® developed what they called the BI Happy Challenge.
It was not an easy feat because DH coach|sultants® came into the organization during a change in leadership. The values of the two leaders had to meet in the middle, and they also had to align with the entire organization.
The DH team divided the project into phases. They began with the define phase, a very crucial part in order to assess the existing culture of the company and how happy employees were at work. The coach|sultants® refreshed the team’s values, established their behaviors, and validated them through a voting process within the entire company.
The next steps were to train and coach the culture ambassador team [CAT] in order to create and roll out the culture initiatives. DH held 3 workshops with the top 1000 leaders so they would be aligned and inspired, equipped with the tools they needed to lead by example. As a result, everyone would understand how to interact with each other, their customers, and how to make decisions based on their values. They were confident that this would bring the company to a new level of high-quality interactions with customers and lead to even greater prosperity, and it did.
More recently, as a result of COVID-19, BI Group was forced to cut salaries and furlough employees. Right before they took action, they had a call with the DH team for a refresher on how to thrive through a crisis, and how to leverage culture as a main pillar to adapt. They used the C.A.R.E. model [communication & compassion, awareness, respect, and empathy], in an effort to preserve loyalty and trust.
"We need to take care of our people through this tough period to keep productivity
and engagement up in this crisis." - Sofiya Akmesheva
In 2020, BI Group placed 3rd in FORBES Kazakhstan for employees branding attractiveness. The company also saw their employee happiness index score rise to 7 out of 10. This score is based on company pride, having friends at work, and how appreciated employees feel in their work environment.
The company experienced a 38% increase in “attractiveness” to students graduating from top universities worldwide.
“We believe it’s because we are giving them [graduating students] a sense of purpose and mission in their work. At BI Group they have the opportunity to do something bigger than themselves. It’s about meaningful work.” - Sofiya Akmesheva
Aligning their leaders around their transformation and vision, and defining their values to support their bold direction proved successful for living the kind of happiness internally that they were promising externally. BI Group employees became more optimistic and grateful for their positions, which allowed them to feel important and valuable.
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, BI Group moved quickly to build and donate infectious disease hospitals. “The Hospital Against Coronavirus” was built by the team in just 13 days. 1500 employees worked day and night to execute this social project for doctors who were fighting COVID-19. The company saw that their employees were devoted and engaged in the development of these facilities, especially since they were working on something much greater than themselves.
BI Group also donated one of their 5-star Hilton hotels for medical workers and staff who were in quarantine. At their peak, they had more than 300 doctors staying at the hotel, helping to interrupt the spread of the virus to their families. BI Group made a profound impact in their community by quite literally building happiness.
BI Group’s greater impact is an example of implementing the ME-WE-Community model, which is embedded in DH frameworks. Employee engagement is an experience that touches different parts of your organization. It begins at the singular level [ME], moves outward towards the team level [WE], and extends into your business’ community [partners, vendors, customers, etc.]. It’s a concept that can ensure positive and sustainable cultures.
Watch the video about BI Group's efforts with The Hospital Against Coronavirus here:
"It was great to hear that our NPS score increased by 12%. Also, sales increased more than 20% in comparison to previous years. We need to take care of our people through this tough period to keep productivity and engagement up in this crisis."
DMG’s culture strategy had support from top leadership, but the challenge was to get buy-in from the rest of the organization. Through coach|sulting, DMG created their culture program, which gave employees a sense of ownership of the culture and resulted in a successful transformation. Named a 2019 Middle East Top Employer by the Top Employers Institute.
Canpa was facing challenges from declining profitability, a 30% employee turnover rate, and low company morale. After a DH Masterclass, they experienced record sales and the highest retention rate to date. Won 1st place in Turkey's 2018 Great Place to Work® Assessment.