What are the best practices adopted by companies during the health crisis? On what aspects did they mostly focus? What were the areas of intervention, strategies and reaction tools? These questions were answered by Gaia Morselli and Gianluca Arlati of Great Place to Work Italia in a webinar which also featured Medtronic Italia and Elettronica SpA‘s experiences.
There are six categories of intervention in particular: internal communication, digitization and maintaining contact with people, continuous listening and feedback, training, support for personal and family psychophysical well-being, maintenance of team and family spirit.
These practices which have proved to be strengths to face the crisis are certainly valid suggestions also for all the companies that are organizing themselves now for the return phase.
The areas of intervention.
The companies that have made the most of the pandemic phase are those that have had a pro-active approach, especially towards their employees. This is what emerges from the webinar “Excellent practices of the best companies at the time of the COVID-19” organized by Great Place to Work Italy (GPTW).
By applying the GPTW methodology that uses Cultural Audit – an investigation tool that follows the ideal journey of the employee in his company from the first contact with him in the selection phase, up to personal growth and development – the survey shows that of the 9 areas of intervention identified 6 are those in which companies have invested the most.
1. Internal communication and maintaining contact with people despite the distance. Within this area 4 fundamental aspects: digitization, intensification of communication, use of videos as a communication tool, for their potential to create a more direct relationship, and a communicative style based on positivity.
comfort2. Listening and continuous feedback: attention to the needs and requirements of employees based on verifying the conditions and recording needs, in order to maintain a personal comfort zone as much as possible.
3. Training: investing in people’s skills, and in more targeted and accessible training programs, rethinking training programs. Increase know-how can be a good restart strategy.
4. and 5. Support for personal physical and psychological well-being and support for family well-being. Not only security policies and health policies, but also online courses on fitness, nutrition, economics, mindfulness and yoga. Along with this, help was given in view of the possibility of assistance and care for loved ones: flexibility and reduction of working hours, extra permits, avoiding the use of social safety nets, support programs for children to help them in carrying out of schoolwork.
6. Team and family spirit: this is the area in which all companies have shown creativity, designing interactive games, challenges between groups of colleagues, digital aperitifs. Important strategies in this area have been the strengthening of internal social networks and the scheduling of various events, from colleagues’ birthdays to other kinds of appointments. An ideal way also for companies that have opted for layoffs, to reassure their employees that the company continued to invest in them and that they would have been part of the company’s future.
Information and engagement: the corporate radio of Medtronic Italia.
Among the excellent companies, Medtronic has presented its experience as a leader in the health technology sector – among other medical equipment it also produces respirators- and as an already smart working company for over three years.
A particularly interesting idea was the use of company radio. The project was based on a structured information and engagement plan, with three main objectives: to keep people informed on what was happening, especially in the first period where the confusion was greatest; give clear guidelines of behaviour, especially for technicians and salespeople in close contact with the customer; keep the organization motivated and connected, increasing pride and a sense of belonging by telling the real company’s impact in the emergency period. Being able to communicate the impact of Medtronic’s business on reality has increased awareness of the company’s mission.
“At the beginning, the CEO and other colleagues gave information about health, corporate decisions and what the company had decided on. In a second phase, we used the radio to give voice to our colleagues, especially those who were in contact with hospitals and patients to bring examples of how we helped hospitals and doctors by providing equipment that was and still is in great demand “, explains Alessandra Sama, HR Director. “But we also offered the fun in digital communication through happy hours with light and cultural information: we have a professional DJ who interspersed the topics and testimonials with a music selection”.
Objective sharing and technology: electronic security app.
The best practices of Elettronica, a company that operates in the electronic defence sector and excellent second testimonial, were based above all on the psychophysical well-being of the collaborators and on the support for their families.
“We never stopped our business even during the lockdown and we reacted to the crisis by focusing on trust,” said HR Director Emanuele Galtieri. “Having built a strong bond with the employees, we were able to face the emergency situation in the best possible way: we found a great sense of responsibility and we had the union representatives totally on board. We swapped to smart working really fast and offered organizational flexibility for people who couldn’t work from home, and since the beginning, we granted additional paid permits, and given the possibility of tailor-made health insurance for employees and family for the next two years: a series of opportunities for mitigating the risk “.
The company also intervened on the organizational layout: an example is the corporate packed lunch initiative to promote social distancing, based on a lunch booking app which allows organizing the delivery directly to the work desk, avoiding the employee to having to go to the canteen.
“We also wanted to guarantee the possibility of a coffee break. Despite having closed the relaxation areas inside the office, we have open outdoor areas, in the open air, for a safer break. ”
Another app-based initiative has been also chosen for the return to the office: “We thought of an app to increase the safety of our people that meets all the privacy requirements. With the company badge, the temperature scanner is activated and with the optical camera, it is possible to identify if the individual protection devices are worn and if you are in good standing. To this, we added also a tracing app, a logbook of contacts within the company. It is activated only within the company and deactivated once outside. In the case of positivity, the company doctor will have access to the data to send an alert to the people who have been in contact with the subject “.
A tool to help employees be safer and to try to restore normality much faster: “It is on a voluntary basis both for those who have company and personal cell phones,” concludes Galtieri. “We have reached an agreement with the labour organizations and there is a full consensus on this issue. It is important to develop internal communication to make the employees understand the importance of health and safety.”
Text by Gabriele Masi.