The HR Spotlight interview series continues with a new instalment of Business Review’s one-on-one talks with the leaders of the #futureofwork. In this episode, the spotlight moves on the automotive industry and its HR practices, as we sit down with Lacramioara Daraban, Head of Human Relations at Continental Sibiu. To find out more about the #futureofwork in motion, join another of Continental’s own top professionals, Alice Nistor (Employer Branding, Talent Acquisition & Communication Team Leader), a speaker in the All Star Panel | Employer Branding: keys to success | Moving Forward, Together, at BR’s upcoming Working Romania conference, September 29 at Courtyard by Marriott Bucharest Floreasca and online in BR’s dedicated HR networks on Facebook and LinkedIn.
BR: What do you consider to be the biggest challenges for your HR department in this new future of work?
Lacramioara Daraban: As some years ago we already identified the need to transform and become more digital regarding HR process, the current situation did not have such a big impact in the way of working in our HR department, at least in the admin area. Of course, in areas as training, employer branding and recruiting we had to reinvent some of our processes, but with the already in place mindset that we are a digital company, we managed to do this without problems. Another challenge was to keep being in touch with the people and to make sure that our employees keep being connected to each other even when working extensively from home. We have around 4.500 employees in Continental Sibiu, both white and blue collars, so during this period we had to find the right approach in being close to them and attend to their needs.
How did you replicate recruiting and onboarding from the traditional office to hybrid working arrangements?
We made use of the available platforms and moved all our recruiting activities in online. Having candidates from cities outside Sibiu and even from outside Romania we were already pushing for having more remote interviews. With the pandemic, we moved 99% of our interviews in online and we were happy to see it works fine. Still, the feedback from both the candidates and the recruiters is that a face to face discussion is preferred. If we talk about onboarding, we moved all the induction sessions in online but we organized somehow that in the first weeks both the new employee and the leader are together at the office so the new colleague has a clear understanding about the company, workplace and what are the expectations.
In regards to trainings, since the beginning of the year, as part of our strategy – # passion2learn and under the concept of AT AW AD Learning (AnyTime AnyWhere AnyDevice), we have expanded the learning options available in the organization by giving colleagues the opportunity to choose between classical, classroom trainings, and an impressive selection of e-learning on all those topics of interest to us as an organization.
We chose Coursera as a partner due to the variety and quality of the content and we thus took an important step towards digital learning. The partnership with Coursera was well received, over 140 colleagues who chose to learn, appreciating in addition to the quality of the content, the flexibility brought by such a solution, the fact that they have the opportunity to learn at their own pace, at the right time for them and last but not least from wherever they are.
So, the social distancing measures found us ready. In regard to classroom trainings, we reorganized each training topic in the form of a mini-program structured in a series of 2-4 modules that combine/ alternate virtual facilitation (via Teams) with individual or team activities. The feedback from colleagues is very good, the way the activities between the modules were designed and the level of interaction that the trainers managed to maintain in the virtual meetings exceeded their expectations, which is why we will continue with this approach in the coming months, even in conditions of relaxation of COVID prevention measures 19.
For next year we plan to expand the types of eLearings that colleagues can opt for and keep the virtual facility for many of the trainings organized. We do not want to give up the classic delivery, in the classroom, but to opt for it only for those topics / types of training where the fact that the participants are physically in the same space brings real additional benefits.
How did you manage to keep a good level of engagement among your teams/departments/employees?
From a virtual coffee to a virtual walk… the employees were very inventive, and it didn’t take long until I heard about virtual team activities. Organizational routines such as regular meetings continued, with the virtual environment bringing many improvements such as… more communication discipline.
We discovered how easy it is to communicate with hundreds of leaders or employees using the virtual environment and we took advantage of this. I can say that we interacted even more than before, so was a good exercise for us as an organization.
We intensified the Employee Advocacy programs, increasing the group of “Conti Influencers”, we also communicated many “normal” things in the organization, especially about the strategic activities, which we tried to mention and about the new activities and work platforms. We also tried to think of actions that bring people together, even at a distance, and a very nice example in this regard is the location playlist, on Spotify, where any colleague could add their favorite songs.
We promoted a positive wave related to the new communication technology and it kept us close and allowed us once again to identify with the fact that we, Continental, are a company of the future. Another very nice idea was to install in Teams as a “background effect” images from the Big Square of Sibiu. We all love the Big Square of Sibiu and drinking coffee at the terraces there, so now, in Teams, Conti employees can “sit” on the terrace during conferences.
Did you make use of professional counseling for employees who reported issues of stress/anxiety?
This year we organized a series of online trainings dedicated to Stress management. Interested employees had also the chance to apply for one to one counseling sessions with one of the trainers. Beside this, at Corporate level, was implemented a Medical Hotline dedicate to Coronavirus, offering counselling services for our employees and their relatives.
How prepared is the Romanian workforce market in adopting the latest HR technologies, seeing the latest surge in workload?
It really depends. I think the organizational culture of each company has a big impact here. If we look at Continental, we have been preparing for this for some years already. We made use of all the latest technologies, reduced paperwork and implemented digital options for pay slips, certificates or employee documents. We did this not only for the white collars, where access to computers makes it easier but also for blue collars. So, the events from the last year just made us accelerate the rhythm and push for final optimizations. Of course, the things may look different for a company that is still struggling with digitalization but fortunately, I am happy to say that in Conti, the pandemic did not find us unprepared.