“If people feel good at work and they experience security and trust, they feel so much better and deliver better work, which has influence both within their homes and the whole community.” says Auður Þórhallsdóttir, the Head of HR at VIRK.
Auður has broad work experience, but creativity, education and human resource management have been a common theme. She nevertheless has also been engaged in various crafts and designed garments and accessories under the brand “ath” for some time. Auður started working for VIRK in 2014 and is, according to her, still very happy there.
What gives you the most joy in your work?
“What gives me the most joy and satisfaction in my job is the diversity and being able to come up with ideas, create new things and to feel that I am given trust to do good. Witnessing employees grow, prosper and develop at work also gives me a very good feeling, as well as sensing people's job satisfaction.”
Auður's main guiding light in career as well as her personal life is to be a good person and to show others care, compassion, kindness and respect.
“To make sure that any communication is of such a way that look on the positive sides and try our best to make the people around us, and that every job is respected. It is also necessary to have the courage to take on issues if for example there arises negativity or other obstacles that need to be addressed.”
Prioritize HR Because They Want to be Outstanding
VIRK is an ambitious workplace that puts a lot of effort into maintaining fair and constructive relations and communications, with integrity and respect as the guiding light.
“We attach great importance to fostering a positive work ethic and a strong team of employees. We are doing the utmost to create a positive workplace culture and our employees are encouraged to keep our guiding principles in mind in their work, which are professionalism, respect and ambition.
We want our team spirit to be nourishing and that our employees look forward to tackling any task in a good group of friends, because we want to be outstanding.”
They Chose Happy Colors for a New Work Environment
A year ago, VIRK moved to Borgartún 18 and according to Auður it has been a rewarding and informative experience to participate in creating a new work environment for their employees.
“Our emphasis is that the work environment should above all be healthy and beautiful and that our employees feel as comfortable as possible. We conducted a detailed needs assessment with our people and tailored to our activities. We put a major emphasis on creating a healthy environment, safety concerns, noise and lighting.
We chose to be very colorful to try to bring people joy both outside and inside the office and we also have a lot of living flowers. We also operate a canteen for our staff for the first time which is a big contributor to job satisfaction. We are very lucky to have a one of a kind chef that people are very happy with.”
The Employees Created a Communication Agreement
In recent years, VIRK has received several certifications and awards.
“This spring we received our fourth Equal Pay Certification, whereas in the spring of 2018 we received our first and were thus pioneers in obtaining certification for a company of our size in Iceland. As previously, we received a very positive result and the certification body considered us to have an excellent overview and to be a role model in goal setting and implementing actions to achieve our goals. We have also received the ISO: 9001 certification and we strive to operate a harmonized service throughout Iceland.
We have also recently drafted our own Code of Conduct and have a Communication Agreement that our employees created which we are very content with. The other day we were recognized as “VR's Exemplary Company” for the fifth time, and we are very proud of that result.”
VIRK Uses HR Metrics to Create an Excellent Work Environment
VIRK has been conducting HR measurements with HR Monitor since 2016, with the aim of measuring how they can achieve the best performance from their employees.
“We wanted figures on human resources, in addition to other key figures in our operations, to help managers create an excellent working environment. By conducting such measurements, we are also encouraging all employees to consider the most important aspects of their environment, to have an opinion on them and therefore build a better awareness of quality.”
Auður says that in the long run, the behavior of managers often has more influence than policies on their own, although they are also very important.
“Our ambition is also for each and every manager to be aware and active in their human resources manager role, to ensure professional and good management. It has never been more important to consider our most important resource, human resources.”
React Immediately by Listening to the Voices of Employees
VIRK sends out a survey using the HR software HR Monitor every other month.
“The questions are in eight key aspects in addition to one open question. With the open question, we encourage ideas and suggestions from staff and thus want to harness their creativity. Once the results are in, the company's management has a meeting to review and assess what works well and what does not, and consider opportunities for growth and improvement.
Auður says that the function of HR Monitor's measurements is to make good even better and that the voices and suggestions of all their employees are listened to.
“Sometimes there are great ideas or wishes for reform in the measurement results which we are grateful for. Sometimes we need to explain things better and justify why things are the way they are so that employees gain a common understanding of procedures or arrangements.
A good example was the December survey of 2021, when employees were coming back to the office after working from home. We were shocked to see the lowest result ever received in terms of overall results.
We noticed right away a pattern of messages from employees in the open-ended question that we immediately considered and addressed. By listening to what was said we got excellent results both now in February and April 2022.”