#HRSpotlight2021 | Luiza Müller, HR Director, Orange Romania: 2021 will be a year of lessons learnt, capitalization and boost

Mihai Cristea 03/02/2021 | 14:24

It’s time for a new #HRSpotlight interview, the fifth of the revamped 2021 series. In this episode, Luiza Müller, HR Director at Orange Romania, returns after her initial HR Spotlight interview, to sum up 2020 and explore the trends of 2021.

 

  • 2020 Overview: the most important actions and programs in your organization?

In a nutshell, 2020 was the year of adaptability, empathy, resilience, autonomy and courage – courage to come up with innovative and bold ideas, courage to put them in practice without thinking too much about obstacles and possible failures.

2020 was a year that motivated everybody to give their best, even if the situation was an unprecedented one and the motivators could have very well been from the negative side: the fear of uncertainty related to themselves, their health or the health of their loved ones, the economic situation (whether it be national, European or of the company) etc. Everything put our minds and bodies in survival mode. However, there was a clear difference between surviving and what I would call “surviving in excellence”. In 2020, we were able to design, produce and implement the greatest projects in our HR history. Most of them were successful because they were in perfect agreement with “the wave”: the imperative to change was met in the organization with the eagerness to transform. A new performance process, a new application to manage performance and future development, but to also measure the fine link between engagement and leadership, a new learning curricula dedicated to both leaders and non-leaders, a new composite offer of well-being – everything took us in the position to ride the wave rather than be engulfed by it.

2020 represented an “original” year that was meant to invite us to play a real game that was far more realistic than any other business simulation. In terms of HR processes, last year was an opportunity for both HR professionals and all the employees within the company. Without any preparation, we were invited to:

  1. Build concrete and complex business continuity plans in a very short period of time;
  2. Assure proper technical support and equipment to all our colleagues to perform work from home;
  3. Move all processes on line/in digital: recruiting, hiring, onboarding, designing and delivering training and development programs, payroll etc.;
  4. View “learning time” more efficiently (since people couldn’t spend as much time in digital as they were used to spending in a face2face classroom);
  5. Reinvent the wellbeing programs to be delivered on line;
  6. Build robots to help us issue work certificates;
  7. Stay together and stay close to all of our colleagues in the organization and take care of their health and safety;
  8. Communicate, communicate and over communicate daily.

 

However, the operational changes that we have adopted in terms of internal HR processes were not the biggest challenge. The most important shift that we needed to make was to adapt to the new reality and extraordinary challenges of the labor market. All of a sudden, candidates’ behaviors and expectations shifted drastically towards stability, certainty of a long term employment, rather than strict salary negotiations. Our company was one of the companies whose main focus during the pandemic was to preserve employees’ wellbeing and financial and psychological safety and this caring behavior echoed on the market. This was the main reason why we benefited from the interest of highly skilled professionals on the market who expressed the desire to join our organization.

From Employer Branding perspective, 2020 was a year of clarity that offered candidates and employees a peek inside the genuine employee experience. It gave candidates the opportunity to see beyond the media campaigns and Employer Branding formal initiatives. The decisions made by companies in this tough period were the best and most relevant Employer Branding campaigns – we, as a company who did not have a single employee in technical unemployment and who secured the wellbeing of each and every employee, have definitely passed this test.

In conclusion, 2020 was a year that we managed to get through and not over! We made the most out of the opportunities it provided and prepared for the coming period and the new business context that’s awaiting us.

 

  • Which will be from your perspective, the most important trends that HR leaders will follow in 2021?

Now, 2021 is the year where we need to capitalize on the lessons that we were forced and willing to learn in 2020. We will continue to be a trend setter in HR, by adopting courageous and innovative initiatives, all in Orange spirit and values: new performance ecosystem that sustains both employee and business performance, increase digital experience and digital transformation, implement new ways of working (hybrid work, work from anywhere), launch skills & projects market, redefine leadership & culture in the new reality etc.

One of our main focuses remains to attract talented employees and prove flexible towards their needs, even if this means recruiting for fully remote jobs or propose alternative working arrangements. Another important aspect of this new normal is the fact that recruitment needs to step into a more proactive role, and shift from reacting to the business needs to shaping the business reality in terms of what we call “competencies and skills of the future” and promote talented candidates whose profiles may go beyond the currently expressed workforce needs to hiring managers.

2021 is a year in which:

  1. Togetherness has to transform from an imperative need into a policy;
  2. Leadership has to fully take its rightful orientation towards people;
  3. Teams need to follow the paradigm according to which best possible outcomes come as a result of collective intelligence;
  4. Organizations change from being hierarchical to being more agile-based or even open markets of skills and things to be done.

2021 is a year of lessons learnt, capitalization and boost. It’s true that the experience of 2020 was so strong that some of its key-insights were so obvious from the very beginning. However, it seemed to me that an explosion such as last year would release a high amount of energy and then the bounce back would follow. I think that a better option is a bounce-forward. This means stretching the standard to a more efficient, more valuable, more meaningful extent while making sure it doesn’t snap.

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