Breakthrough from Within: Empowering Our Employees to Shape Their Future

At “Present Connection,” we have managed to avoid the ever-growing global employee turnover statistics by leveraging a unique model: to retain our talent, we “employ” their desire for self-improvement.

“Show me an organization whose employees feel like owners, and I’ll show you an organization that beats its competitors.” This quote from Mike Abrashoff, a former U.S. Navy commander and expert in leadership and teamwork, resonates deeply with us. In today’s competitive environment, even the most attractive motivational tools sometimes fall short in retaining talent. According to a 2022 Gallup survey, only 14% of professionals in Europe feel engaged and are not inclined to look for other career opportunities.

Raimonda Preimonaitė, our HR specialist, proudly shares that we boast low employee turnover rates. This success is aided by our open and collaborative organizational culture that avoids any form of division or hierarchy.

“Our strength lies in direct communication, a principle upheld by everyone, from owners to managers. Trust in our employees is shown through flexible conditions that allow working from the office, home, or abroad,” she says.

Learning from Each Other

At “Present Connection,” we organize lectures for our employees, provide a budget for training and seminars, and have a system that allows employees to initiate or contribute to additional projects unrelated to their primary job, enabling them to acquire new skills or share existing ones.

“Although we are only 12 years old, our specialists have accumulated invaluable knowledge and are encouraged to share it with younger, less experienced colleagues or those specializing in other areas. Anyone can voluntarily join our mentoring program or participate in ‘Present and Connect’ knowledge-sharing sessions, where employees present work-related or entirely unrelated topics to colleagues. For example, in the last session, seven colleagues graduating from university this year shared their final theses. It’s a great opportunity for them to rehearse before their university defenses and receive questions or valuable insights from colleagues,” Preimonaitė explains.

Keeping Up with Technology

Our field of work obliges us to stay ahead of the latest technologies and market trends. For example, when artificial intelligence tools like “ChatGPT” emerged, we quickly utilized them to improve efficiency: our then Country Manager, Gintarė Žilinskė, suggested creating our own tool.

“This led to ‘Chat PC’ – an internal tool where employees can ask questions and quickly find the necessary information about all internal company processes without constantly turning to administration. By leveraging our specialists and interns, whom we invite to learn at the company annually, we can streamline our operations and utilize the existing knowledge resources,” she says.

Darius Orvidas, a programmer at Present Connection, states that the best way for interns who can’t yet work on commercial projects to gain experience is by contributing to the creation of internal company tools. “I’ve been with the company for over 8 years, and one of the tools I’ve worked on facilitates information search within the company, using Microsoft’s large language model to answer questions based on our data.”

“As a long-term employee, I was offered to contribute as a project manager for this tool. We developed the project together with an intern, providing a great opportunity to learn leadership and help the intern deepen their knowledge. The internship at the company lasts two to three months, which is a short time to accumulate knowledge and skills. Still, my motivated and receptive partner eventually became an employee,” Orvidas says.

Creating Our System

Another tool developed by our specialists is the “Career Framework.” Preimonaitė explains that senior and mid-level specialists participate in this project outside of working hours and receive additional compensation for their contributions. Their work results in a career planning tool tailored to our company’s needs and organizational culture.

“The idea was to create a tool that, based on the internal employee levels, would help assess employees’ technical and soft skills and determine their level. Previously, we did this manually using Excel: once a year, employees self-assessed, and their team leader evaluated them, determining their skill level within the company,” Preimonaitė emphasizes.

Klaidas Pilkis, a team leader and one of the tool’s developers, recounts that the product idea originated from the Country Manager, who outlined the levels and competencies for programmers. Then, a colleague devised an algorithm to calculate points for each competency and determine the level.

“He proposed creating an application to convert the collected data into computer-readable language. However, I prefer quality work, so we agreed to develop a system encompassing each employee’s career path. Five people are working on ‘Career Framework,’ with plans to expand its capabilities, allowing employees to set goals, and enabling client evaluation of specialists’ work,” Pilkis explains.

Pilkis estimates that before launching the first version of “Career Framework,” he dedicated 450 hours to the project and continues to work on it.

“They say the worst programmer was yourself six months ago. I can confirm this – the technology was new to me, and I redesigned everything four times while improving,” he smiles, noting that his efforts paid off with new skills and a team leader position.

Internal Management System

Another tool developed by our employees is the “Present Connection Intranet” – an internal management system encompassing all business areas: finance, administration, recruitment processes, internal benefits, employee recognition systems, and various other modules.

A broad internal team of product owners is working on this product, aiming to create a flexible tool that best serves our needs.

Talent Incubator

Preimonaitė emphasizes that while many tools are available on the market, creating our own allows us to meet specific company needs, structure, and organizational culture, develop existing employees’ skills, and attract new talent.

“The uniqueness of ‘Present Connection’ lies in specialists who can create what the company needs. Interns actively participate in this process. The internship is unpaid, offering them experience, and if the collaboration is successful, they join the team after the internship,” Preimonaitė explains.

Initially, interns contribute to developing products for internal company use. Those who successfully integrate into the workforce continue their work on internal projects for compensation and later, with sufficient experience, start working with external clients.

“We like to say that we raise specialists by becoming their first client,” Preimonaitė describes the effective hiring mechanism and straightforward path into programming.

Orvidas adds that this model of training interns is logical.

“A new programmer cannot work on commercial projects immediately; the only way is to improve through internal projects. We have several such projects to enhance internal processes and daily employee life, and always come up with new ones,” he says.

Enabling Growth

Pilkis states that additional projects are invaluable opportunities for regular employees to grow.

“We programmers are quite spoiled. I’ve worked on my project for five years without facing new challenges. So, during my annual review, I set a goal to deepen my technical and process management knowledge. The company’s conditions for improving and gaining new competencies at its expense are very motivating. However, it all depends on the individual’s needs,” he believes.

Pilkis explains that additional activities helped develop better time and process management skills.

“Since this was not my direct job, I had to balance work and leisure to finish everything. The second challenge was motivation: initially, there was plenty, but later, as I delved deeper and faced challenges, I had to work hard to maintain enthusiasm. The responsibility to myself, my leaders, and the entire company waiting for the product kept me motivated,” says the specialist.

According to Orvidas, joint projects also foster a culture of collaboration.

“You can only learn to collaborate by collaborating,” he concludes succinctly.

Sandra Žemaitaitytė

Marketing Specialist

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