Visual employment contracts for CSU Cleaning Services

Did you know that low literacy levels in the Netherlands are the highest amongst employees in the cleaning industry? Almost 40% of registered cleaning staff in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the dynamics in this industry are rather complicated too. Clients often look for highly skilled cleaners, but are not always prepared to pay for this. Besides, cleaning staff are often not greeted by personnel on the work floor.

project
August 4, 2021

CSU becoming the first facility management company in the Netherlands to offer visual employment contracts - co-created with Visual Contracts

Did you know that low literacy levels in the Netherlands are the highest amongst employees in the cleaning industry? Almost 40% of registered cleaning staff in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the dynamics in this industry are rather complicated too. Clients often look for highly skilled cleaners, but are not always prepared to pay for this. Besides, cleaning staff are often not greeted by personnel on the work floor.

Cleaners perceive all of this as a lack of respect, even though their work is physically demanding, and necessary. This mix of not feeling respected and physically demanding work creates a lot of pressure. Pressure on cleaners, but also on their employers. Employers need to maintain a workforce that is engaged and vital, in order for their employees to feel appreciated and respected, but also to stay in business.

*This image shows the summary page of the employment contract.

Challenge

How can we help improve this situation? Making cleaners feel more respected, and actively becoming part of a vital and engaged workforce. To create a sustainable, respectful working relationship between cleaner, employer and client.

In 2019 Visual Contracts was asked to take part in a project called The Shiny Future. The project was set up by APG Groeifabriek (an innovation lab by Dutch pension provider APG) and Outside Inc. The main purpose was bringing together people and resources in order to create a product that would have a positive effect on the lives of cleaners. Our role was to look at making employment contracts more understandable. To reduce the level of unclarity about their employment contract, by making cleaners more aware of their rights, and also overcoming the obstacle of low level literacy amongst cleaning staff. We needed to find a way to visually transform all (legal) information, and make it understandable to all parties involved. This is how and where we met CSU.

CSU is a Dutch facility management company, with over 15,000 employees. Representing 130 different nationalities, and a multitude of cultures and languages. It is a family business promoting sustainable employability. Focusing on safety, health, well-being and personal development. Corporate Social Responsibility is key at CSU. With social innovation at the top of their agenda: looking at new solutions to improve the welfare and wellbeing of their employees. CSU are keen to build sustainable working relationships with all its employees. With a diverse workforce, it is essential that the CSU employment contract is accessible to all. Therefore, CSU approached Visual Contracts to co-create a visual employment contract.

The approach

Being a business that promotes sustainable employability, focusing on safety, health, well-being and personal development, it felt natural to introduce legal design thinking to CSU. Co-creating by working together across disciplines - from HR to legal, marketing to IT - and combining the expertise of lawyers, HR and designers. To better understand the context and needs of people interacting with the law - in this case their employment contract - and to create improvements and innovations based on this knowledge. A user-centric approach, developing user-centric solutions, including user-centered visual design.

Together we followed the (legal) design thinking process: empathize, define, ideate prototype and test. Working this way we considered all business, legal and employee needs. Starting with mapping the employee journey, and exploring the business objectives. But also looking at possible visual designs, creating the right balance between the amount of visualization and text.

Results

This resulted in a more human-centered visual employment contract, accessible to all its users - from HR and legal to, most importantly, all CSU employees. With less words and less legal jargon. Instead, an employment contract using easier to understand language and visualizations. Enabling CSU’s diverse workforce to read and understand the terms and conditions of their own employment contract. Occasionally with the help of a friend or family member - depending on the language level. With the visualizations supporting any further explanation required. Making CSU employees feel involved and appreciated. Empowered. Confident to agree and sign.

CSU is currently testing a prototype amongst their employees. Researching whether the effectiveness of the current design can be improved. So far the feedback has been extremely positive. Also, this way of working - involving employees, listening to their feedback and tips - has been a positive experience: working together to strengthen the business, and improving the employee journey.

I would immediately sign this contract!

Once this has been finalized, CSU aims to introduce the visual employment contract to new starters after the Summer, as well as integrating it within their Human Resource Management software system.

Media

Our collaboration with CSU has had great media coverage. From a legal perspective, but also from the cleaning industry. In addition, CSU’s own Innovation Specialist, and Chairwoman of Young CSU, Marloes van Raaij, has shared her enthusiastic view on it all.

To read (Dutch) all about it, have a look here:

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