Arcadis: HR strategy with sustainability as a touchstone

15 January 2021 - Reading time: 5 Minutes

Customer case

Many companies now promise a sustainable career. But engineering firm Arcadis has really put the HR buzzword into practice with a strategy that is based on three pillars: continuous feedback, mobility and working from home. Wim Waterschoot, People Director Arcadis Belgium & Europe South: "Our people want to give their very best, and this is only possible if you, in turn take their well-being seriously."

Arcadis started as a Dutch engineering and consultancy firm, currently it employs 28,000 people in 70 different countries. In Belgium, the organisation counts 850 employees, most of whom have technical Bachelor's and Master's degrees. 

Wim Waterschoot, People Director Arcadis Belgium & Europe South: "We all know that the talent we need is scarce and very much in demand. Competition from all angles as digitalization progresses. Take for example technology giant Google, who is also looking for mobility experts to identify traffic flows."

Autonomy and feeling at home

Applicants in the engineering industry are in a luxury position. They usually have the choice between various employers, so they start weighing up the pros and cons in terms of salary and a myriad of other aspects.
Wim: "Candidates ask critical questions about the corporate culture or want to know what concrete initiatives are being taken for the benefit of the staff. We have to convince them that we can offer the autonomy, flexibility and responsibility they are looking for. And, above all, we have to show them that they can feel at home here.

Building a sustainable career

Arcadis offers design and engineering services for construction, infrastructure and environmental projects: hospitals, schools, parks, squares, bridges, soil remediation and so on. All these projects add value for society and the environment or have a positive impact on quality of life.  Wim: "People choose Arcadis because they want to contribute to sustainable projects. What's more, they give their very best to achieve this. That is only possible if their employer takes their well-being seriously and supports them in developing a sustainable career."

The three pillars of Arcadis' HR policy:

  1. Continuous feedback
  2. Mobility
  3. Working from home

Continuous feedback loop

In order to capture desires and concerns, employee surveys and focus groups are organized regularly at the international group. One of the findings is that the youngest generation likes continuous feedback. Wim: "The conventional mid-year performance interview is no longer enough. They want a continuous informal feedback loop with their manager. 

We turned this open feedback culture into one of the three pillars of our HR policy. This does require some adjustment from our managers, so we offer them the necessary guidance to make this change."

"The conventional mid-year performance interview is no longer enough. The youngest generation wants a continuous informal feedback loop with their manager."

Smart mobility choices

Sustainability is also a common thread in Arcadis' mobility approach, which is its second HR pillar. Wim: "We make sure any new offices we open are near a train station, so that employees have other options besides their car. Of course, a company car is still very important to a lot of people. That is why we are making our fleet of 400 company cars greener by focusing on hybrid and electric vehicles."

"We are also rolling out a mobility budget together with SD Worx. Twenty employees switched to the mobility budget in just a few months, which was a modest success. From now on, they can make the best mobility choice based on their schedule."

Office connection

Mobility is intrinsically linked to working from home, which is the third pillar of Arcadis' HR strategy. Wim: "We have informally allowed teleworking for years, but we didn't have a policy for working from home. A while ago, we decided to make a more structural effort, again oriented towards sustainability and a better work-life balance. We asked SD Worx to develop a policy detailing the way it should be done.

The Arcadis offices are also receiving a makeover one by one. Fixed desks are used less and less. Wim: "If you need to work on something alone, you don't necessarily have to go into the office, but if you want to kick off a project with your team, you do. I have noticed a general development towards smaller office spaces in companies. We are more and more conscious of the time we spend at the office. What's more, in the future, the office will play a crucial role in our connection with colleagues and corporate culture."

"We are more and more conscious of the time we spend at the office. What's more, in the future, the office will play a crucial role in our connection with colleagues and corporate culture."

Pointing out the risks

"At the same time, people have to be able to work from home in the best possible conditions", the HR Director emphasises. "We have recently started to take action in that regard as well by making available a contribution towards the purchase of ergonomic office equipment."  

If the HR employees have any questions, they can contact SD Worx' team of experts. Wim: "SD Worx offers us legal certainty, but above all they are a professional, trusted partner. Do you know Edward de Bono's six thinking hats? Well, SD Worx is not afraid to put on the black hat every now and then. By asking critical questions and pointing out potential pitfalls to us, they are the perfect touchstone for our enthusiasm."

"SD Worx offers us legal certainty, but above all they are a professional, trusted partner."

Would you also like an HR partner who works with you to meet your HR challenges? 
Find out how SD Worx can help you. 

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