Cristina Ulesan, Human Resources Director at Brico Depot Romania, will join BR’s Working Romania HR Conference as a speaker. The event dedicated to the Romanian HR industry is set for December 13, at Courtyard by Marriott Bucharest Floreasca. Register here to join us!
Cristina Ulesan is a Human Resources Senior Professional with 20 years of experience, who has also experienced and enjoyed Business Development perspectives and challenges. She is the Human Resources Director and Member of the Executive Board of Brico Depot Romania (part of Kingfisher Group) since April 2020, managing the company’s people agenda for more than 2,500 of her colleagues. In her previous roles, she has served as HR Director, L&D Manager,
Organisational Development Manager, Assistant Vice President, Europe Human Resources, or Chief People Officer, at companies such as Unicredit, Garanti, Genpact, and Sphera Franchise Group.
“As an HR professional, I understand how important it is to effectively adapt the onboarding process to evolving needs, as well as to accommodate generational differences. As a result, we have constantly improved our onboarding process to answer any newcomer’s need for relevant information. We did notice two important traits among the young generations in the past few years: Gen Z and Millennials perceive work as an extension of their personality and always look for development opportunities. Young newcomers have a different relationship with work. Flexibility is key,” said for BR Cristina Ulesan, human resources director at Brico Dépôt Romania.
In May this year, Brico Dépôt signed the Diversity Charter, thus making a public commitment to promote and implement practices in the spirit of the company’s values, which support diversity, equal opportunities and inclusion.
“As part of an international group, with a nationwide network and a complex business, the diversity of gender, ethnicity, nationality or religion is implicit in Brico, but we have encouraged and are proud to have diversity among us in all its forms. In fact, we promote a culture in which diversity is valued, understanding that the differences between us make us better, at organizational level, and enrich us on a personal level. Our human resources strategy is based on the development of a working environment in which each colleague can realize their potential. We encourage and support our colleagues to grow and perform, making a firm commitment to ensuring that they are treated fairly and that their opinions and backgrounds are respected”, said Cristina Uleșan on the occasion.
As for development opportunities, at Brico Dépôt Romania, they have noticed that many young newcomers access training courses immediately after starting their job. They have colleagues that only started three weeks ago and have already taken part in several courses from the company’s training catalogue, with a distinct appetite for soft skills. Moreover, these employees want to understand the core business, and thus they are highly receptive to the onboarding programme, which starts with one full day spent in one of the company’s stores.
“Irrespective of generation, our objective is for every single one of our colleagues to know the key elements of our strategy and to genuinely feel that we are all working towards a common goal. For the past three years, we have organised recurrent semi-informal meetings between our new colleagues and our CEO, using the framework as an opportunity to run them through our strategy and main company figures and, more recently, our values as well. Feedback is gathered after each meeting and it has been more than 95 percent positive,” Cristina Ulesan added.
In fact, the company collects feedback along the entire employee journey. They check in with their peers yearly through the employee survey—one of Cristina’s favourite projects for its quality of providing a platform for consistent upward communication—whose results inform their policies not only in human resources, but also in other business areas. For instance, “we have continuously worked to simplify certain processes as a result of this feedback, using clear action plans. Once again, closing the feedback loop is key, proving theory right. When it comes to generational differences, our survey results confirm that Gen Z and Millennials, which together make up about the same share as Gen X in our company, judge purposeful work, as well as the company’s mission, by stricter standards. As such, it’s a trait that continues well past the onboarding period,” commented the Brico Dépôt representative.
Making work more attractive
In the post-pandemic era, the office risks being perceived as sterile and distant in comparison to the comfort of our homes. Therefore, the Brico Dépôt Romania representative truly believes that, in many ways, this leads to nothing less than a revolution: the office is evolving from a functional space to a means of communicating our values and identity, an environment that has a role in attracting and retaining talent. In order to decide on a way forward, they had to check in with their head office colleagues: do they want to get back to the office? Or, put simply, what do they want? They gathered information by organising various listening groups, one of them with the help of iSense Solutions, who set up a Brico online community as the source of truly valuable feedback. A sample of colleagues from the head office, covering as many segments as possible, provided a comprehensive view of their needs. The conclusions of this research were the foundations of the company’s hybrid work system, with 2 days per week at the office, put in place gradually since early spring.
“With the hybrid system in place, we looked into ways of reconnecting. We organised healthy food and coffee tastings and involved our colleagues at the head office in the process of selecting a coffee provider by vote. Other countries’ national days are also opportunities for us to gather in common spaces and enjoy a break with traditional snacks. These are simple, yet highly impactful initiatives,” said Cristina Ulesan.
Moving forward, they’ll continue to take advantage of various occasions to connect. Next on the list is Halloween, followed of course by Christmas.
Furthermore, given the nature of the business, about 90 percent of the team—or bricolleagues, as they call everyone at Brico—was on the front lines during the pandemic, in no fewer than 25 cities. The challenge was therefore to act as one team regardless of each person’s place of work, so the company used every opportunity to boost engagement on its internal communication channels and, in this sense, seek uniform involvement across its network. One such example was the Children’s Day project, where more than 90 percent of participants came from the stores.
“I firmly believe that it is essential for us to remain our colleagues’ active choice of employer. And just like in any relationship, this entails constant effort and transparent communication. What’s also important is acknowledging that it is neither an easy endeavour nor something that can be done with a single silver bullet,” Ulesan concluded.
Join Cristina Ulesan, and an entire line-up of top speakers, on December 13 at the Courtyard by Marriott Bucharest Floreasca for Romania’s landmark HR conference. The on-site attendance for HR professionals and C-level executives (specialists, managers, directors, VPs, c-suite executives) is FREE of charge. To claim this, register here and select the “On-Site HR Pro” or “On-Site HR VIP” options and fill in the form, including the LinkedIn Profile URL field (mandatory in this case).
We are looking forward to coming together for an insightful conference and a relaxing networking party, to socialize, share best practices, and discuss strategies, and to celebrate the #futureofwork champions of 2022 through the Readers’ Choice HR Awards Ceremony!