As part of a new blog series at Magenta, we are exploring the theme of “people matters”. How do we support the needs of the workforce and deliver the best workplace possible for them, regardless of what it looks like. Over the coming weeks, we are going to be speaking with people-specialists from across the industry for their thoughts and ideas on how we make people matter.
This week, we spoke to Andy Grant, UK Communications Manager, and Ashleigh Cresswell, HR Manager – support services & employee relations, at Elior. Check out their Q&A below.
In your opinion, what’s the best way of managing the diverse needs of a workforce?
Andy: First and foremost, you need to understand your workforce – that means getting to know what’s important to your colleagues in different demographics and trying to offer some flexibility as an employer to meet those needs. That could be achieved by tailoring specific colleague packages and initiatives, for example.
Ashleigh: We have actually recently reviewed our benefits structure and adopted more of a ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality. This requires understanding how different generational groups such as Millennials and Gen Z prioritise certain things, something we do by constantly tracking trends and reading the latest research that’s out there. Our current wellbeing initiative, ‘Everyone Counts’, centres around three pillars – physical, mental and financial health. But rather than send out a blanket offering, we need to think about different groups, what they need to support their wellbeing, and how they respond to different ways of communicating. It is about finding inclusivity to respect everyone in the organisation.
How do you cultivate a culture that respects differences (generational, personalities, roles) and encourages a sense of community and belonging?
Andy: We work under a banner of ‘Celebrate Equality’ whereby everybody, regardless of their background and beliefs, are treated equally and have the same opportunity to thrive within the company. For example, we have colleagues who have other commitments such as looking after children – for them, having a stable part time arrangement to suit this lifestyle is important, and something we work hard to facilitate. No matter what role people are in, we want them to feel they are part of the Elior family, able to contribute and make a difference. We also support various volunteering and community building activities, an area that is important to our colleagues.
Ashleigh: Internal career progressions and promotions, as well as mentoring are another important part of this. Our mentoring programmes in particular have had a great uptake recently, both in terms of people receiving mentorships and colleagues putting themselves forward to mentor others.
How important is it for HR to work closely with comms and marketing?
Andy: I think we’re rare in the fact we have a combined corporate and internal comms role, reporting in part to the HR Director. That close connection helps us enormously, as there is no void between the two departments – so often we are working closely on different things, whether it’s branding, website, social media, recruitment or generalist HR comms.
Ashleigh: I would second that! Things move so quickly, so it is crucial we are aligned to provide consistency of message across the organisation.
The talent scene – what are the current opportunities and challenges?
Ashleigh: There are challenges across the board with recruitment, and our sector is certainly not the only one facing up to them. What we are starting to see now as opposed to during the pandemic times is that there are more applications being received per vacancy, which is certainly a positive sign. Hospitality, as one of the first and most often shutdown sectors, is still going through a state of recovery in terms of its perception as a stable employer. However, we are starting to turn this into an advantage by really pushing the message that at a lot of our sites we can offer flexible roles to suit people’s different lifestyles. These are hugely important factors as people recalibrated their priorities during covid.
Another opportunity is to appeal to workers in other sectors who have transferable skills. Retail, for example, is an industry undergoing a lot of change at the moment as the high street evolves, so a key question for us is how we attract some of those people.
Have you implemented any innovative approaches to combat the talent shortage?
Andy: Publishing what we do internally through initiatives such as our People Promise is very important for the Elior brand and helps us to show prospective colleagues how we differentiate from our competitors. With People Promise, the crux is that we value our colleagues as highly as we value our customers, aspiring to achieve this in a number of ways including support mechanisms within and outside of the workplace . We were able to push out some powerful messages directly coming from people working within our organisation – they are the best people to let others know what it is like to work with us. Incorporating these messages into comms via social media and other channels has been very useful.
Ashleigh: In line with this, we have also put energy into communicating more broadly what the Elior brand and culture is about. This has involved picking out key messages from engagement surveys such as career development, flexibility and wellbeing, and really showcasing how we are catering to these trends and needs.
How do you keep a diverse workforce happy? (personalities, generations, geographical locations, and varied roles)
Andy: Giving people a voice and place at the table is incredibly important. We are starting to use new platforms that are enabling us to be more creative with email communications – that’s enabled us to bring initiatives to life through things like videos of colleagues sharing their experiences at the company. Gamification is another tool that helps to keep people engaged and participating.
I think the most important thing, however, is to ensure you run programmes that actually make a tangible difference to people’s lives and experiences. It is all too easy to launch programmes and push out nice messages – that needs to be backed up by substance.
What advice would you give to companies that are struggling to engage their workforce?
Ashleigh: Carry out engagement surveys so that leaders of the business can understand what it is that their colleagues want. On top of that, commit to action plans based on the feedback, share the results, and keep colleagues informed about how their comments are being turned into actions. Regular communications of all forms are important too, from emails to face to face meetings involving HR and senior management.
Andy: Think innovatively, stay on top of trends and don’t be afraid to try new ways to communicate and engage.
To find out how Magenta help you help your employees, get in touch!