Alina Gamauf, HR, CSR & Corporate Affairs Board Member at Carrefour Romania, sat down with Business Review to discuss the digitalization of the company’s HR department and explain how Carrefour contributes to the development of a new generations of leaders.
By Anda Sebesi
How important is digitalization for HR departments in general and how has Carrefour Romania implemented it so far? What is the added value of digitalization in your HR department?
At Carrefour, we have an innovative mindset and we apply technical solutions to all business areas. Innovation is part of our strategic vision. An important part, of course, is applying such solutions to our relationship with customers, providing them with streamlined and improved experiences across all points of contact with us, whether in store or online. And alongside its customer centricity, Carrefour is also defined by its wonderful team.
As such, it is important for us to support our colleagues in every way we can, and digitalization plays a key role here. We are part of an industry where things are happening very quickly, and the HR team helps us find the best tools to support our colleagues in their daily activity and their development. That’s why digital transformation in HR has become a priority for us, and it is also in line with our group-level strategy, announced in November 2021, which is built on a “data-centric, digital-first” approach.
My team and I analysed all of the company’s HR processes and we launched several projects in order to ensure a simplified employee experience, from recruitment and onboarding to learning opportunities and annual performance reviews.
For example, in November 2020 we launched Ema, a simple and user-friendly chatbot interface that automates recruitment processes. We were among the first companies in Romania to invest and implement this type of digital solution, anticipating an important trend. We are constantly updating the tool in order to bring it in line with the needs of both hiring managers and candidates. The latest update, which was implemented at the beginning of this year, brought an improved user experience¬—from intuitive conversations on our career page to a better control of the process so that all our candidates receive feedback, whether positive or negative, and even other job recommendations based on their profiles.
Last year we implemented the Carrefour Explorer virtual onboarding programme, designed to ensure a simple and complete experience for our employees from their very first day of working at the company. It is an intuitive, user-friendly platform that our employees can use to find out everything about our culture, organisational chart, useful contacts, ongoing projects, and general employee benefits. In addition, all our new colleagues receive an email with a welcome video from the company’s top management. The first day at Carrefour, the first impression, the first feeling of being part of the team are all important to us. We are constantly updating the content of the platform, so that our colleagues find all the information they need throughout their entire journey at Carrefour.
With the pandemic in a visible regression, what do you think the new ways of working will look like in the future?
Carrefour Romania is represented by 17,000 colleagues, of which only 5 percent are located in our headquarters, as everyone has the option of working from home. I believe that working remotely for a long period of time might affect one’s sense of belonging to an organisational culture and, more importantly, that colleagues start to feel disconnected from each other and miss the interpersonal connection, which can affect their creativity. On the other hand, remote means more flexibility: less time commuting translates to more time with family, friends, and hobbies, and choosing where you work from means having more control over your environment.
An important priority of our HR team in 2022 will be to support organisational and cultural change in business by continuously investing in digital HR, but also by finding the right way to involve colleagues in defining the new ways of working.
There is no single right approach; this is why last year we launched an internal survey to understand our colleagues’ views, and the majority said hybrid should be the new way of working. We are continuously adapting our tools to the current needs of our employees and we focus on keeping an open communication to make sure that everyone is aligned with the company strategy.
A signature Carrefour platform is SWOW, the personal efficiency compass, designed to respond to the new ways of working. SWOW is an interactive guide to hybrid working, where you can access information about things like team rituals (for better collaboration), good practices for physical and mental well-being or available tools for remote working. It has come in handy particularly in recent times, when remote or hybrid working have become mainstream. The platform was implemented in 2020, very well received by our colleagues, and extended to the group level as well. We are always updating the content, especially that related to rituals, so that our colleagues enjoy each day at Carrefour. We are currently working in a hybrid manner and this will likely remain the new “normal”.
What are some current expectations and challenges for an HR specialist in this almost fully digitalized work environment?
We are on the right path from a digital perspective. All our initiatives in this regard have a clear purpose: to help our colleagues enjoy the experience of each HR process, increase their engagement, and make them proud of the fact that they are working in a company where innovation is a priority.
We want to give them the tools they need to achieve their own goals by increasing efficiency and freeing up time for value-adding activities rather than administrative tasks. One challenge is identifying the right way to communicate the benefits of each new HR tool or process so that our colleagues may understand what’s in it for them and how it will support their daily activity or professional development.
What should companies do to prepare the leaders of tomorrow for more sustainable and healthy businesses growth?
In my opinion, it is essential to create development opportunities and to provide people with concrete tools. By focusing on empowering people, companies will reap numerous benefits over the long term.
What does Carrefour do to develop the new generations of leaders?
Carrefour invests in developing mentoring and coaching programmes, as our current and future colleagues’ growth is very important to us. One of the biggest initiatives we’ve already launched in this area is the School of Leaders, in partnership with the Bucharest University of Economic Studies. It is a tailor-made programme for future leaders, offering relevant learning and development opportunities. We have an e-approach to HR processes, meaning that we also apply digital solutions to learning and development. Earlier this year, we launched a new Learning Management System that offers a complete learning experience to all our colleagues, from general mandatory training to individual programmes that are specific to each role and seniority level. Managers can follow up on each team member’s development plan, for the actions that are tightly connected to learning initiatives, from completed to future training sessions.
We are promoting a culture of learning across our teams, making career development a personal responsibility for each and every one of us. In terms of mandatory training, the platform supports the HR practice and ensures that all our colleagues are aware of¬—and compliant with—the internal rules.
Another relevant project for us has been the implementation of a new performance management module in Success Factor, a digital tool. We build tailor-made forms that provide quick access to annual individual goals, self-assessments, and feedback from superiors and peers, in a 360-degree approach. Following this yearly process, we will have a clear image over Carrefour’s talent pool, as we are also assessing the potential of our workforce.
When it comes to annual performance, this year we’ve started to implement a compensation module that will be used to calculate annual bonuses, which provides more transparency and a clear understanding of eligibility criteria.
About Alina Gamauf
HR, CSR & Corporate Affairs Board Member at Carrefour Romania
Alina has extensive experience in HR, both locally and internationally, having worked in countries such as Austria, Germany, and Italy, where she coordinated teams and initiated projects that consolidated the department’s role in the business growth strategy. Alina joined Carrefour at the beginning of 2021, supporting the improvement of internal processes and the transformation of working modes, aligning them with business requirements and colleagues’ needs.