Digitalisation and dialogue – the road toward a new customer interaction for SJ
SJ started its business in 1856. Back then, it was steam that drove development forward. Today, digitalisation is the driving force, and SJ has decided to become one of Sweden’s most digitalised companies. Another change is a shift from being completely technology-driven to becoming more customer-focused. The changes place great demands on the people in the business. Not least for staff members on board the trains.
– The big shift with us has to do with how SJ will become one of Sweden’s most digitised companies, says Henrik Månsson, who is the head of all strategic HR work within SJ. Our customers and travellers expect SJ to be available wherever and whenever they look for information or book tickets.
A changed customer interaction and CSI
How business operations develop and change are closely followed up by various key performance indicators within SJ.
– Key performance indicators are important to us when we drive change, says Henrik Månsson. Therefore, we report both our performance and leadership index from Agerus in the SJ annual report. The measurements show whether we are moving in the right direction, as the Agerus methodology is based on developing prerequisites for people to do a good enough job so that we can achieve our goals.
Dialogue for anchoring
The importance of dialogue propels SJ to work very consciously with the format of their business meetings.
– It is in dialogue that you can relate to changes and ask questions, understand and arrive at a commitment. Therefore, we now organise all our staff meetings in a way that will stimulate dialogue. I have a person in my team who is a specialist at this. She puts all her energy into how we could be better at talking to each other. More interactivity and conversation between the participants is how it’s done.
The dialogue in smart phones
SJ, with about 4 600 employees, is a private company owned by the Swedish government and tasked with operating profitable public railway transport.
– Being a manager at SJ poses pretty big challenges, says Henrik Månsson. You often have large employee groups with people who work very independently. For example, train hosts and train drivers do not necessarily feel that they work in a permanent community. You constantly change workmates during your travels. It is also difficult to gather your people. In such circumstances, digital tools play a major role and provide an opportunity for dialogue.
– With the app we can create a dialogue with people who do not have stationary job conditions and are very difficult to bring together in one place. We also step away from a large, annual survey to local dialogue where the managers themselves decide which issues are important to follow up on and develop. Being able to do employee dialogue through an app is also a natural part of our digitisation strategy.
Dialogue was also important when it came to developing the new app, says Henrik Månsson:
– We have made a real effort to involve the organisation in how things should work in the employees’ smartphones. Now we have a flexible tool where the manager can choose which questions they want to ask and go even deeper into specific questions if needed. At the same time, we have worked very consciously in terms of employee perspective. Their user experience must be a good one for us to reach the goals of our venture.
Collaboration with Agerus
SJ and Agerus have been collaborating since 2013. Why did SJ start working with Agerus?
– We were compelled by the research behind Agerus, which is based on the fact that when the prerequisites for performance are good, you achieve good results in the business while keeping people healthy and happy, says Henrik Månsson. When we started working with Agerus, it was a different way of thinking for us compared to the traditional employee satisfaction survey.
How has collaboration with Agerus been over the years?
– Working with Agerus has been a lot of fun, Henrik Månsson continues. We have always had good dialogue, and this last year of joint development work has meant a few more strong leaps together. I think much of this comes from a consensus on the importance of dialogue. Dialogue is a common thread in our collaboration. I am excited to be able to continue developing that approach together with Agerus.