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Breman

Breman is not only a specialist in installation technology, but also in alternative organisation, democracy and self-government. Read more about how they use Plek!

  • Engage employees in decision making and innovation through Plek
  • Easy to use, mobile and interactive
  • Targeted communication through groups
  • Strengthening the connection

Breman - engaged employees help to make decisions

A conversation with René Breman is smooth and to the point. It is clear that he has a talent for storytelling. By using beautiful metaphors, he explains how engaging employees is in the very heart of the organisation. You can imagine how he, with his official job title: "the connector", uses this talent to lead the family business and inspire employees as a member of a three-man board. It doesn't take long before we're talking about Breman's unique structure. A structure in which employees have just as much control as the shareholders of Breman. Decision-making and profit are shared 50/50. At Breman, they even have their own name for this concept: "Bremanism". This unique form of control was introduced at the company back in 1972 and stems from the vision of Reind Breman, one of the five sons of founder Tijmen Breman and the father of René. Central to Reind's vision are values such as stewardship and servant leadership; using your talent and capital for others and caring for the next generation. René Breman continues his father's work to keep the unique Breman structure and vision alive in the organisation. "We've really implemented Bremanism down to the very bones of the organisation. But first and foremost, you have to have the courage as an organisation to share decision-making 50/50 with your employees. My experience is that many organisations do not dare to take that step. Nor can you let such a structure and open culture of employee participation start with your employees. The top of the organisation must make a clear choice for this system."

""At the moment, the organisation of employee participation lies mainly with the branch directors and their work councils. We felt that this method needed to be renewed and were looking for a digital solution in which we could directly engage individual employees and shareholders and strengthen the mutual ties. We found this solution in Plek."

Cultural breeding ground

René explains that in addition to the 'hard side' - a structure laid down in the company's articles of association and processes - the 'soft side' of Bremanism is just as important. "You have to create a breeding ground, so that employees also understand what they can do with the role and responsibility they have within our system. So culture is also incredibly important." Breman's values and unique culture of participation threatened to fade into the background, partly due to the group's strong growth, so a few years ago Breman started looking for its own DNA and ideals together with its employees. The results have become the company's guiding principles. Together with employees, a challenging goal was also set. By 2025, Breman will be energy-positive and the company will give back more energy than it consumes to its employees, customers and the planet.

Organising employee participation with Plek

While René Breman is the foreman of the Breman vision, you could consider Richard van der Wal - the guardian and facilitator of this unique decision-making process - as the corporate secretary. How does that work on a day to day basis? Richard: "The question is how to do it in an organisation of this size. We are talking about 1800 employees and a group of over 60 shareholders. At the moment, the organisation of employee participation is mainly in the hands of the branch managers and their work councils. We felt it was time for renewal. We were looking for a digital solution where we could directly engage the individual employees and shareholders and strengthen the mutual ties." "With the help of Plek, we will soon have two ways to also engage employees digitally in decision-making and innovation. Via the so-called 'highway group', we will present concrete plans to employees, according to the consent method. This means that, for each plan, we ask our employees whether they can live with it, or whether they see any objections. The plans that we present in the highway group are mostly group-wide plans, for example plans concerning our in-company school. In addition, we will soon start with a method to ask a broader question within the organisation and to collect ideas from employees. We will use the idea generator of Plek for this. We call the challenges 'expeditions'." René Breman gives examples of topics that come up in the expeditions. "Think of a topic like "energy positive employee." How do you make sure that you, as an employee, continue to feel good about yourself? But also questions such as: "How can we offer the customer an all-electric house?" Richard adds: "We really want to find an optimal balance between these two routes. It has to become a kind of cycle. From idea to innovation to a concrete plan on which employees can give feedback and respond.

Breman employee

Roll-out Breman app

Such a direct form of democracy puts high demands on the quantity and quality of internal communication. How have you organised that and what role does Plek play in it? Niels Scholte-Albers, Project Manager Online Communication & Marketing at Breman, is responsible for the roll-out and further development of Plek. Niels: "We started with the basic Plek module. In the spring of 2020 we rolled out the "Breman app" to the entire organisation. The roll-out went through branch managers and local ambassadors. We closely monitored the local roll-out. You always check how many people are on it. You contact them and offer help in removing obstacles. We now have 1,600 employees who are active on Plek." Richard van der Wal adds: "In communicating about plans, we want to connect as much as possible with target groups and areas of interest. So we offer information in different ways. Films and animations will play an important role in this. We also work with ambassadors at the sites. In addition, we encourage project leaders to hold consulting hours, for example, where people can obtain more information.

Targeted communication

And how is Plek used? Niels: "We currently have about 50 active groups, which are managed by the group members themselves. This is how we keep it close to the employees. The fact that everything can be found in one place and that the app is extremely user-friendly are particularly appreciated. Many of our employees are on the road a lot and therefore convenience and mobility are important. In addition, Plek allows for very targeted communication. Employees are easy to approach through the groups and they can easily respond. We find this interaction very important. Working with Plek also requires clear choices, adds René Breman: "We are strict and no longer share news via mail or other channels, but only via Plek. It takes some effort and you have to keep repeating the message, but in the end it benefits employee participation. After all, people know where they can find information and can trust that the information is up to date and reliable."

Employee app

About Breman

  • Breman Installatiegroep is a nationwide group of 36 specialised installation companies in the private and commercial market, located in the Netherlands.
  • Over 90 years of craftsmanship in installation technology and home management
  • 1800 employees

Plek Idea Generator

In order to facilitate broad innovation within organisations, Plek has the Idea Generator. In this separate section of Plek you can set out 'challenges' in the organisation (or parts of it) in which employees can submit their ideas. Colleagues can then discuss and value each other's ideas. This way, you can bring company-wide attention to innovation and generate ideas from a large and diverse group of employees. The Plek Idea Generator is based on scientific research by Erasmus University. It shows that concrete challenges (questions) lead to much more useful ideas than, for example, a general Innovation Forum.