Christmas market, summer market, and Oktoberfest: Nordea wants to be more than a workplace

6. december 2022 kl. 10:26
Christmas market, summer market, and Oktoberfest: Nordea wants to be more than a workplace
Oktoberfest, talks, and markets should spice up everyday life at Nordea and enhance the employees’ sense of community at the workplace. Illustration: Nordea.
The Nordic banking group takes retention so seriously, that it has employed people whose sole task is to strengthen the employees’ sense of community and attachment to the company.
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After having a good lunch, you need a cup of coffee, and on your way from A to B, you pass a small cluster of stalls forming a Christmas market.

The scent of fir fills your nostrils, and you spot a gingerbread heart at one of the stalls.

It seems like the perfect pairing for your cup of coffee.

In the stall next to it, there is a bottle of rum that would be a great addition under the Christmas tree.

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And why not also sort out a few Advent gifts now that you are here anyway. After all, there is plenty of knitwear, jewellery, ceramics, and the finest Christmas baubles.

Satisfied, with arms full of bags, you continue towards the coffee.

You find a good spot, put the bags down, and sit on a chair.

Your own office chair. In front of your computer screen.

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You are at work, and the small Christmas market is just one of many things you can experience during your workday at Nordea.

“In order to create good customer experiences, we have to also create good employee experiences,” says Trine Thorn, who is employed for precisely the latter task.

Work as a community

Trine Thorn’s title is “head of group workplace management & physical security”, but at a dinner party she would introduce herself as “the person who makes sure that Nordea is an attractive workplace where people are happy to come in”.

“If you don’t act internally as you would like your employees to do externally, it doesn’t seem genuine. We want to create relationships with our customers, help them with their dreams, and create good experiences for them, so it’s not good to have employees thinking that ‘Nordea is a boring place’,” Trine Thorn explains.

Relationships are precisely what is at stake when she and her team create events for the employees.

“The office is one of the cornerstones where our employees get together. And we know that it is through being together with other people that we create a culture and a relationship. And that relationship is important to us as a company. Nordea should not just be a workplace, but a community. Because then it takes on a greater meaning for the individual,” Trine Thorn believes.

“And we borrow the employees’ precious time, so we want them to feel important here.”

In addition to the Christmas market and summer market, Nordea’s employee activities include everything from India Week and Oktoberfest to talks on various topics and a new parents’ network. On top of that, every year, the employees can choose to spend 16 hours of their working time volunteering at charities.

Happy to go to work

Camilla Beckmann, head of HR at Nordea and the person in charge of Trine Thorn and the workplace management department, explains the great focus on employee experiences with the words:

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“For me, it’s about being happy when you go to work, because then you’re the best version of yourself. We’re not super happy every single day, but we kind of have to be happy when we wake up in the morning and get out of bed to go to work.”

And when you are happy to go to work, there is a greater chance that you will not look around for a different metro station to get off at every morning.

“We have to be on our toes because there is a very high demand for skilled employees and intense competition within IT and technology, so we have to make an effort and work on a lot of different things in order to be able to recruit and retain the talented people,” Camilla Beckmann says.

Events cannot stand alone

The serious approach to employee well-being and retention activities seems to be working for the large Nordic bank with its Copenhagen headquarters in Ørestad. In any case, it is comfortably placed in 11th place in this year’s IT Company Rank analysis, having moved up 39 places.

However, it is clear to Camilla Beckmann that Christmas markets and exciting talks cannot stand alone. Nordea’s image is largely based on good results, ambitious goals, and exciting development opportunities for the individual employee, she believes:

“Our ongoing digital transformation has given us a boost. We want to have Denmark’s best mobile banking, and the fact that we are vocal about it probably creates curiosity and interest among those who work in IT. I think people see us as a bank that is on the way up and forward.”

Therefore, she also believes that all the initiatives that Trine Thorn and the workplace management department are implementing would not go far if they were not placed as “a cherry on top” of a good everyday life with exciting work tasks and recognition:

“If there’s no foundation, all these events won’t be credible or have an impact.”

As head of group workplace management & physical security, Trine Thorn believes that the foundation for meaningful work and everyday life is already there:

“It’s a fantastic job—being able to influence the lives of 30,000 people and create something that they want to talk about when they get home. You may not want to talk about the compliance thing you’ve been struggling with all day. But a Christmas market where you’ve bought honey from urban beekeepers to bring home with you just creates a different conversation at the dinner table.”

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