”Never let a good crisis to waste”, said Winston Churchill 75 years ago, quoted by Felicia Georgescu, Head of Human Resources and CSR at Sodexo. We should not let this crisis pass without learning what is to be done better in the future, she said at Business Review’s Working Romania event.
”We are going through a difficult period, for which the instructions of use have not been written yet and I think we are adapting as we go,” considers Felicia Georgescu, explaining that maybe it was the need of a crisis to learn to spend more time with our families. And we also learned that we need a social connection, because sometimes a virtual connection is not enough. There were many lessons we received throughout this period of time.
This pandemic is a transition period, when HR role acquired new values. ”Our first responsibility is to protect the employees. We have to take all the necessary steps to take care of our employees, to stay close to them. So, together we can reinvent and continue our business,” thinks Felicia Georgescu.
A portal to a new world
The crisis is like a portal to a new world. We glance at it, but we don’t know it at all. Things will be very different from what we know today. Our value system, the way we look at the world, the business, the way we work – all will be different. And it comes to the HR people to stand by them and take all necessary measures to ensure their physical, social and emotional health.
One of the main changes will be in the way we work. At Sodexo, we have been working and will continue to do so, with everyone already having access to technology and used collaborative means of communication or remote work. But, while before „remote work” meant just 30 percent of the time and the rest in the office, in the future will not be the same. This crisis made us see things from a different perspective, helped us to learn and implement a new way of working. This new way of working also involved a new code of conduct.
Sodexo re-imposed the rules of working from home, like the way someone should be positioned in front of the laptop screen or how to place the light. ”We asked our colleagues to turn on the video camera as we need the interaction with a face, not a blank screen,” says Georgescu, explaining that there is a communication protocol and each manager has daily stands-up with his team and a weekly meeting with all the company. ”I think we communicate more today than we did before. Although we do not meet physically, I think we are closer to each other, as we are solidary in our common desire to succeed, to overcome this moment, to continue our business in the new reality in which we step,” she added.
The company uses a platform to survey the level of motivation and engagement of employees, on a weekly basis. Each employee can also ask questions without revealing the identity, questions that managers will answer. Through this platform, we asked specific questions and we were able to adapt our actions and communication so as to support the employees.
A good thing in working from home is that it saves time, that it can be used for personal development. ”We have a fairly large library of e-learning and we encouraged our colleagues to invest at least 2 hours per week for these programs. We also considered the need for physical activity and, with the help of our colleagues from 7card, we offered online sport sessions. And it was a success, people found that it is a way to socialize, not only do sport,” says Felicia Georgescu.
Digitalization is a necessity
It is also important to understand that until now digitalization has been a trend, but now it is a necessity. The whole organization adapted to the new normality. Sodexo offers all the products to customers on card, in a digital form: the meal card, gift card, cultural and holiday vouchers – and it has also launched mobile payments, usable both on Android and iOS. The customers are embracing the digital life and digital payments are a part of that.
”The way we work will definitely change after the crisis. Working from home was not considered suitable for many jobs, but the crisis taught us that it is possible. On the other hand, we demonstrated that many activities (meetings, trainings etc.) can be done in the digital area, not just in the office,” says Felicia Georgescu.