The story of Sara Leys

Sara Leys (36, Antwerp) is a HR employee at Witteveen+Bos. She’s committed to keeping motivation among the more than 160 employees in Belgium high. How? Talking to people, a walking marathon, and the Blue Monday playlist.

New passion

‘Following a period in France, I came back to Belgium in 2012. Witteveen+Bos was seeking someone for a temporary administrative role. I started without any expectations. The engineering world was new to me; I studied to be a curator/restorer. Because Witteveen+Bos staff numbers in Belgium were growing, the question arose from the Netherlands whether someone could take responsibility for human resources. I put my hand up. I’ve been a HR employee ever since. I completed a course and the profession has now become my passion. I’ve really grown in my role.’

From 6 to 160 employees

‘In my early days, there were only six people working at Witteveen+Bos’s Belgian office in Antwerp. We now have three locations, where 160 people are employed. I know everyone by name. As well as my standard HR tasks – such as salary administration, contracts and insurance – I talk with all our employees: about nice things and not-so-nice things. People feel they can trust me; that’s nice to see. I try to keep everyone motivated by listening well and staying positive.’

Walking marathon and custom playlist

‘The corona pandemic threw us in at the deep end. I can still remember exactly what happened that day: 13 March 2020 – a Friday. We looked at each other: ‘What now?’ To prevent people from feeling isolated, we came up with various campaigns within the HR team. For example, we organised a walking marathon for a charity that employees could choose themselves. They chose an association that helps people with cystic fibrosis. For every kilometre walked – and that was almost 1,500 – Witteveen+Bos made a small donation. We also asked employees to suggest three tracks for our Blue Monday Spotify playlist. People really enjoyed the playlist, and it gave everybody a boost. These sorts of things really work. Despite the pandemic, many employees became accustomed to their ‘cages’ at home, and we found the right channels to stay connected. The group feeling was never lost.’

'Despite corona, the group feeling never really disappeared'

- Sara Leys -

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