Cycling jerseys, vinyl records, large plants, a full bookcase and all sorts of framed drawings and artwork on the floor and on the wall: if you look inside at Kanaalstraat 40E, you may be surprised by what you see. This is The Workplace of TeamWerklust. This is what Gerard van Groeningen (63) says, who works here and stays here regularly.
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Gerard is the owner of TeamWerklust, which helps companies ‘keep their employees healthy, engaged and motivated’. Last June, the Rotterdammer (of Groningen origin) moved into their new ‘living room’, or De Werkplaats, with his Apeldoorn girlfriend Mirjam (45), who co-owns TeamWerklust.
Business travelers in job satisfaction
“Here we come together with people from the team, many of whom live here in the region. To generate ideas and to consult, to develop instruments, to make questionnaires, to do administration, etc. I am here anyway on Monday and Friday. The rest of the week I’m on the road. Just like the employees. The company has eight permanent employees and a further five freelance coaches. We were recently called ‘happy business travellers’. I thought it was a nice name.”
But also for the necessary inspiration and relaxation. “In the cupboard there are photography, cookery, philosophy and music books.” On and up the walls are framed drawings and paintings, including a serigraph by a Herman Brood. “I also write and make music here. I don’t like a boring office, I want an inspiring environment.”
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In De Werkplaats there are also two Swiss shepherds, Lovis and Django, mother and son. Behind the large work table is a door to a kind of studio, with living room, bathroom and kitchenette. “Mirjam and I have a house in Apeldoorn, but sometimes I also live here.”
I don’t like a boring office
Gerard van Groeningen, Team Werklust
Cycling jerseys hang in front of the shop, a result of his and his son’s hobby. And there is an old desk belonging to his grandfather Gerard, who used to work in a printing press for a newspaper. This workplace may be strange, but it suits us. Sometimes someone comes in and exclaims, “What a nice little shop!” That’s part of it,’ laughs the entrepreneur.
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Gerard founded TeamWerklust in Rotterdam 21 years ago after he himself lost his job at an HR agency where he was declared redundant. “I was literally at a crossroads. If I went right I went to the UWV office, if I went left I would be at the Chamber of Commerce. I chose the latter. Because what I had done at my employer could I might as well have done it myself.”
Initially in 2001, TeamWerklust focused on helping companies with high long-term absenteeism to properly address it. “Either by letting employees return to the same company and the same position, or to the same company but a different position, or guide them to another employer. In this way, we supported the manager or coached the employee.”
Much more positive
“Today, the focus is much more on prevention, so that you avoid your employees dropping out. It is much more positive than simply dealing with absenteeism issues. It was far away in the beginning. Employers did not know what investment in prevention would yield. We can show them that now. We have figures from the analysis agency TNO that show what it can do to prevent absenteeism and thus increase productivity.”
Disturbed work-life balance
“Often the problem is a disturbed work-life balance. Sometimes due to changing circumstances, such as having children or caring for a parent. Or there are private circumstances that make someone sick or fall away, such as a confrontational divorce.”
What I had done at my employer, I could just as well have done myself
Gerald van Groeningen
Other food in the canteen
In what ways can you prevent absenteeism? “It can be done in many ways. For example, by offering sports programmes, increasing career opportunities, more freedom or, for example, different food in the canteen. Or look at leave arrangements that exist or another job. Incidentally, it rarely happens that an employee leaves a company.”
Gerard emphasizes that it is particularly important to stimulate the employee’s own responsibility. “Employees often want to talk to a coach. It often provides real insight. It is not just about having to do more, as is often the case in conversations with the employer, but about the person behind the employee. Often people get stuck in a negative spiral. Like, ‘I can’t do what I want anyway.’ Using positive psychology and talking about someone’s strengths goes a long way.”
Often people get stuck in a negative spiral. Like, ‘I can’t do what I want
From ten to 20,000 employees
From small companies with ten employees to multinationals with 20,000 employees, they have come to TeamWerklust. “We have worked for NS and the Ministry of Justice, among others.” For now, the 63-year-old bon vivant is not thinking of stopping. “I don’t worry about tapering off,” he says. “Why should I stop at 67?”
He also has lots of ideas for De Werkplaats. “I have a large network of musicians. I think it would be great to organize workshops on all kinds of music here. I keep dreaming. Work and private life must feed each other.”
Brainstorming with local entrepreneurs
Gerard and Mirjam want to hold brainstorming sessions with local entrepreneurs at De Werkplaats in the near future. Interested? So contact them! You can always contact TeamWerklust by email or phone.