Gabriela Neamtu (MOL Romania): Leaders must make sure that their team members feel valued and keep in focus diversity and inclusion

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 19/01/2022 | 15:09

Gabriela Neamtu, Head of Corporate Center & HR at MOL Romania, talked to Business Review about the company’s internal communication strategy, organizational culture, and more, in an exclusive BR Interview.

 

Which are the toughest challenges in current times for your department and how do you address them?

The Coronavirus pandemic is a challenging period for everybody, including for the HR departments. We had to rapidly adapt and address sensitive topics like work from home, flexiwork, childcare responsibilities etc.

  1. However, our main concern was related to the healthcare and wellbeing of our employees, while staying true to our organisational values, the care for our people being the first of them.
  2. On another note, the new pandemic context has created a lot of discussion and debate around the flexible working modalities and on the potential future application of this way of working. This period of forced work from home demonstrated that this modality of working has positive results if the activity is organized according to clear rules and if the employees have access to the right instruments to perform their job.
  • On the one hand, a great advantage of working from home is the efficiency and productivity. It allows people to save the time they spend commuting which for some of our colleagues can be up to 3 hours/day. Studies have shown that those employees who do not have to travel long distances to the office are less stressed and can sustain a better balance between the personal and professional aspects.
  • On the other hand, an important aspect we need to consider and which resulted from the Flexiwork survey we ran in MOL Group, is the fact that socializing is a basic need and it is important also from the perspective of the work efficiency, in order to build relations of trust and mutual support at the workplace. Those working from home can lose important collaboration opportunities. Also, some employees can have issues with defining the limits between the personal and professional space and time.
  1. Another focus we are having in this period is one connected to supporting the leaders in managing their teams in this unprecedented context. The leaders need to have basic competencies in order to create performing teams and build relations of trust among the team members. And they will have to do this equally well with teams in the same location or with teams working remotely. And it is HR’s role to offer support, coaching, models and training so that as many leaders as possible adapt to the new paradigm.

 

How did you keep your people motivated in this difficult period and what type of internal communication did you adopt?

Regarding the involvement, more than ever before, communication has become key. We are aware that during times of crisis and uncertainty, information is vital. Therefore, we offered our employees as much as possible relevant information through:

-Bi-weekly newsletters regarding COVID evolution (including about the legislative measures that have an impact on their situation)

-Letters from the management for each business division with relevant information about the company and the decisions made to adapt the company to the new context

– HR newsletters

– Online town-hall meetings – where every manager of every department answered to the questions of the employees.

– Online Ask HR session, where employees were able to ask HR related questions

– Recently, we introduced Yammer as a communication channel within the company

Also, in all this context of social distancing that has subjected the entire organization to so many challenges, it seemed important to listen to the opinion of colleagues, to understand how they feel, how they perceive this period, what are the useful tools and what would be those aspects that we can improve. Thus, we launched a series of questionnaires or mood checks, addressing topics such as work from home, returning to the office and flexiwork. It was very useful to collect the opinions of our colleagues and to start from them when we decided the next actions. Each time, we communicate the results back to colleagues transparently because we believe this is important and helps build trust in the organization and increase the level of decision-making that impacts colleagues.

Also, starting from the feedbacks of our colleagues who told us that they would like to hear other things besides COVID and the pandemic, we came to meet our colleagues with another type of communication, an HR Insights newsletter – The dose of inspiration through which we set out to bring to the attention of our colleagues on positive, beautiful things that will help them get through this negative context more easily. Thus, we offered ideas for indoor activities for parents and children, ideas for leisure, opportunities to watch movies, documentaries, festivals, online concerts, we put a lot of emphasis on the importance of physical exercise and we offered online options such as World Class, but also articles about the importance of sports for physical and mental health.

 

What is the ideal candidate looking right now for your company?

To be more specific, what we seek in our employees is, beside the skillset necessary for the position, a good cultural fit and a congruence to our cultural values:

  • people who have good collaboration and communication skills
  • people who have a strong customer focus
  • employees with a strong sense of ownership and who are willing to run the extra mile to make things work and have an impact
  • agile people ready to adapt quickly to the new and unpredictable and ready to lead the changes necessary now and in the future.

Specifically, we have several instruments that we use when we look for candidates and, moreover, when we decide whether we keep them or not. As a first, we include in our job announcement elements regarding MOL organizational culture, so that any potential candidate will have a clear image regarding the company’s identity since the beginning.

During the interviews, we use questions that are based on the desirable values and behaviors, which help us select candidates that fit the company’s profile. 

We strongly believe that if we hire people that resonate with the values and culture of the organization, their satisfaction level increases, so as the chances that the respective employees stay with the organization and contribute to the company results. And this is even more important when the organization faces changes, volatility and ambiguity. A strong team that shares the same values is more agile and more easily adaptable.

 

What has to be changed in the mindset of employees in addressing their jobs? What about the employers’ strategy in helping them do this?

The world’s response to COVID-19 has resulted in the most rapid transformation of the workplace. Working from home has become the new normal, and we’ve gone from digitizing the relationship between the company and the customer to digitizing the relationship between employer and employee.

From employees’ perspective

employees have suddenly realized that working from home on the longer term may be a much desired benefit due to the efficiency associated with it (e.g. saving commuting time, balancing better personal & professional aspects), but also it can be a tough challenge if having to address at the same time personal obligations like children online schooling or if not being able to separate clearly the personal time and space from the professional one.

the sudden changes in their life and work taught employees that they need to be adaptable, resilient and ready for the new & unexpected changes the future can bring. That’s why it is important to build a learning mindset, which will prepare them well for dealing with a constantly, even sometimes abruptly, changing environment.

Also, digital skills in the remote work context become essential.

  • People are learning how to do work remotely and with far less oversight: they are learning “on the job” what works and what doesn’t work at home and holding virtual meetings that might have happened before but never to such an extent.

 

From employer’s perspective

  • Adaptability and agility are amongst the most critical skills not only in these challenging times but in the future work environment. Management must set the expectation that change is a constant as employees need to adapt and thrive as organisations transform. While some of these changes may be voluntary others may be thrust upon people, as is the case with today’s current events. Flexible work arrangements may need to come into play. Managers may even need to be flexible in the way teams work whether it is split shifts or remotely.
  • Leaders play a critical role in a crisis. To be effective they need to put employees at the centre of their approach making them a priority. Quality communication is critical during these times. Keeping teams well-informed on relevant updates and changes will reduce uncertainty and ensure leadership teams are visible and proactive. Communication also involves listening to your employees to ensure they know they are valued. Organisations can do this by gathering and analysing real-time feedback from employees on their work experience in the current circumstances, such as sensing whether employees feel safe and supported, whether they have what they need, and to take actions quickly so employees can be productive and engaged. Regular check-ins with the team, not just on work but on how they are feeling, will go a long way in managing employee concerns and anxieties.

Employees need to feel that their leaders are empathetic about the new challenges many are facing such as juggling career, family and household duties.

Managers play an important role in creating a sense of community. Instead of falling into the trap of micromanagement, leaders must empower their teams while still being available for support.

 

Leaders must make sure that their team members feel valued and keep in focus diversity and inclusion. There will be for sure diversity through the mixed teams working partially from home, partially from the office, but leaders need to remain inclusive even though a team member works from home due to being in the risk category for health or age reasons or due to the children at home. It is important that the leader sends signals that there is one team where each member is equally important.

 

How is your company addressing the aspects of talent finding, retention and aspects such as inclusion and diversity?

Growww

When it comes to talent finding, MOL Group has one of the most innovative and efficient instruments, namely GROWWW, which is a cool, one-year-long programme for fresh graduates finishing their Bachelor’s or Master’s. Those who have max 1-year work experience are also accepted in the programme. Applicants from all disciplines are welcome, they will all have a mentor during the programme to make them feel safe.

GROWWW is now 10 years old, so it had time to prove its success. This is one way in which we attracted very talented workforce, young people with fresh and innovative ideas. Some of them are now in management positions and they contributed to some decisive decision-making processes which helped us be better prepared for the future.

 

Internship

Another channel that we have been using for some years now for consolidating a pipeline of young talent comes from the academic environment. We are proud to be the partners of the prestigious Babes-Bolyai University. We have been developing, together with UBB and the Faculty of Economic Studies, for almost 3 years now, an internship program through which we offer students the possibility to apply in practice the knowledge accumulated in the university and to form themselves as professionals in one of the biggest and most sustainable companies in Romania. During this time, half of the interns who chose to be our colleagues have been promoted in the company while others entered our rotation program and learn the insights of the Finance profession in a dynamic, competitive sector, full of challenges.

Through this internship program, we are building a new collaboration model and a more diverse work environment in which four generations meet and offer their experience, knowledge, skills and perspectives in order to create value for our clients. But, most importantly, people from 4 generations, from baby boomers to gen z, youngsters and seniors, learn from each other.

Last but not least, when we speak about inclusion and diversity, we talk about one of the areas in which MOL Group not only masters state-of-art policies but is also a pioneer. MOL Group promotes a culture of diversity, creating an environment that allows our global workforce of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to contribute to jointly achieved results without boundaries. It is proven by recent studies that diversity leads to better problem-solving, decision-making, increased innovation and at the end boosts the business results of the company. Therefore, our call for action puts forward an agenda to support diversity. By doing so, we attract, engage and retain top talents to yield greater value to our business.

In the D&I frame, we can offer as example our gender pillar. Here, beside having clear rules and targets as to the recruitment, selection, mentoring and talent management processes, we also promote internal initiatives such as Women Leadership Network and Women’s Month.

Also, to promote inclusion and support the diverse workforce we have and their diverse needs, we have a wide range of benefits in MOL Ro tailored for families, parents, new mothers.

MOL Group’s Diversity strategy addresses 3 key elements: internationalization, the retention of young talents and the knowledge transfer between generations.

 

Retention

Today, when the competition for attracting and keeping in the organization competent people is so tough, retention has become a major concern for HR.

We live a milestone in the life of the organizations when the employee’s experience has become a crucial aspect. We in MOL Romania try to understand as much as possible which are those aspects that matter and make a difference in the life of our employees so that they want to contribute and become an important part of the MOL story.

For us that means looking at the essence, analyzing first those aspects that are deeply rooted in our way of doing things, that is MOL Culture.

3 years ago we launched a Group program, Culture 2030, through which we targeted to align our organizational culture with the strategy we have assumed until 2030. More exactly, we realized that, in order to achieve our ambitious and unconventional strategy, we need the right people with the necessary skillset in order to implement the new plans and lead and sustain all the paradigm changes in our organization.

The first step for us was to understand our current culture, that is all the practices and behaviours that define the way we work and interact with each other. For that purpose, we ran a survey in the whole Group and we had workshops to validate the results of the survey with the involvement of our colleagues in all subsidiaries and at all levels. Based on the obtained results, we established the priorities, those aspects that we needed to address in order to make sure we have a solid culture, such as feed-back, management visibility, change management, communication.

From our point of view, the employee retention starts with the ability to articulate what kind of organizational culture we have and what are those values, beliefs, behaviours, experiences that build the environment of an organization.

We strongly believe that if we hire people that resonate with the values and culture of the organization, their satisfaction level increases, so as the chances that the respective employees stay with the organization and contribute to the company results. And this is even more important when the organization faces changes, volatility and ambiguity. A strong team that shares the same values is more agile and more easily adaptable.

 

How do you see the future of work?

The pandemic pushed companies and consumers to rapidly adopt new behaviors that are likely to stick, changing the trajectory of some trends.

  1. Perhaps the most obvious impact of COVID-19 on the labor force is the dramatic increase in employees working remotely. This represents four to five times more remote work than before the pandemic. However, remote employees complain that it is difficult to feel connected to colleagues and manage work-life boundaries

On the other hand, we found that some work that technically can be done remotely is best done in person. Negotiations, critical business decisions, brainstorming sessions, providing sensitive feedback, and onboarding new employees are examples of activities that may lose some effectiveness when done remotely.

Remote work may also put a dent in business travel as its extensive use of videoconferencing during the pandemic has generated in a new acceptance of virtual meetings and other aspects of work.

  1. Investments in digital and automation transformations, considered too ambitious before the pandemic, suddenly became key to survival. This crisis accelerated a number of growing tendencies. More exactly, we see that the future is strongly anchored in the digital and that technoogy will be a powerful ally  that will transform even more the interactions between the employees and employers and will facilitate new ways of working.

The strong digital trend transformed a lot of processes in relation with the employee, from online recruiting, to onboarding and virtual trainings, as well as new modalities to keep our colleagues connected in a context when we work separated from each other.

  1. The challenging pandemic and economic crisis context has changed dramatically the way we live and work, and it becomes very important to develop a wellbeing framework to meet the different needs of employees and encompass mental, social, physical and financial wellbeing.
BR Magazine | Latest Issue

Download PDF or read online: April 2022 Issue | Business Review Magazine

The April 2022 issue of Business Review Magazine is now available in digital format, featuring the main cover story titled “Building A Strong And Sustainable Real Estate Business In
Mihai-Alexandru Cristea | 20/04/2022 | 13:29

You will receive a download link for the latest issue of Business Review Magazine in PDF format, based on the completion of the form below.

I agree with the Privacy policy of business-review.eu
I agree with the storage and handling of my data by business-review.eu

Close ×

We use cookies for keeping our website reliable and secure, personalising content and ads, providing social media features and to analyse how our website is used.

Accept & continue