The Business of People

Sharne Brennan
About the author : Sharne Brennan

Human Resources Director at Sodexo

Published on : 11/11/20
  • At the centre of every business, is its people. They are the vital cogs in the wheel of success and need to be cared for to ensure a business can operate as a well-oiled machine.

    Depending on how you invest in and empower your employees, they can become your biggest brand ambassadors or a deterrent of success.

    The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic made it abundantly clear just how important it is to build values of solidarity, trust and compassion within the workforce to help people stay resilient during times of adversity. The pandemic challenged and affected everyone individually, both in their professional and personal lives. During times like these, the health and safety of people must remain the highest priority for a business, not only for business continuity but for the wellbeing of each individual.

    With more than 5,000 employees across Australia operating across a multitude of sectors, Sodexo experienced first-hand the unique impact the pandemic had on each sector. Each industry was also impacted differently across each state, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases and the level of restrictions in place. I’m sure many can relate to how complex this situation became. For Sodexo, we ensured our people were equipped to adapt accordingly, remaining flexible and responsive to the changing state of play for each sector and state.

     

    We are in this together

    Sodexo Chef receives awardsOur teams were able to draw insights and learnings from our teams in Wuhan, China who had early exposure to the virus and responded quickly to implement COVID-19 safe systems. When the pandemic first made an impact on the Australian business landscape, we knew we had to put systems in place to ensure our people could be supported for the long-term.

    We were proactive in allowing our people to maintain ongoing work with Sodexo, where possible, through redeployment to other client segments, upskilling and retraining. Many employees were successfully redeployed across the business, with HR experts supporting teams through the process to match transferable skills and availability with alternative job opportunities.

    We also introduced new flexible working arrangements for office-based employees, and quickly learnt our business could continue to be effective with our people working from home. You don’t need to fly around Australia to stay connected.

    In prioritising its own employees, both on the frontline and in home offices around the country, Sodexo launched its ‘We Are In This Together’ campaign, driving messages of solidarity and recognising the commitment of all its people at a time where many workers were away from loved ones.

    One of our first priorities was to ensure all Sodexo employees had access to mental health, wellness and productivity resources. We provided a variety resources to employees, such as:

    • Mindful by Sodexo: An online hub with recipe ideas, wellness tips and fitness challenges
    • Happiness Co.: Sodexo Australia employees are offered access to the Workplace Happiness @ Home program to help them take charge of their happiness and wellbeing
    • The Sodexo Wellness App: Sodexo’s very own online fitness platform, allowing users to build personalised training programs and launch individual and team challenges, syncing with a range of health and fitness devices and apps
    • I Hear You: Sodexo’s mental health initiative to ensure meaningful support is available and directing employees to support services, including Benestar, beyondblue, Lifeline and PSK Financial Services

    Acknowledging recognition is a key driver to boost morale, we also launched the ‘We Are In This Together Awards’ during COVID, so our people could nominate members of their team for displaying outstanding efforts during the pandemic. It was inspiring to see more than 2,200 team members recognised with Sodexo Reward Dollars, calling out more than 4,000 values and positive behaviours.

    Sodexo also launched a number of health and lifestyle initiatives, such as photo wall competitions and outdoor exercise classes across sites in its Energy & Resources portfolio, to improve the lives of both residents and employees.

    To make sure our people were aware of everything going on in the business during this time we distributed two ‘We Are In This Together’ magazines to all Sodexo employees in Australia, pointing people in the direction of the resources available and sharing positive stories and photos from the frontline to keep morale high.

     

    Keeping people at the core

    Sodexo employee receives awardsSodexo recently commissioned a research study with Harris Interactive, surveying more than 4,800 global to understand what is top of mind for employees in the current working environment. During lockdown, an uncertainty about the future and job security, a lack of exercise, and eating unhealthily all resulted in people experiencing lower mental and physical wellbeing, which had a negative impact on productivity. Based on this, around eight out of 10 respondents wanted their employers to provide them with solutions and resources to improve their mental wellbeing, and a third believed it was their employer’s responsibility to do so.

    As employees in Australia slowly return to work, it’s clear employees want to feel safe in the workplace. Employers can live up to this expectation by placing employees at the forefront of their decision making.

    Sodexo offers such a unique and wide range of critical, integrated services that improve the quality of life of those we serve – clients, residents and their communities. But we can’t claim to be the leader in that space and not improve our own employees’ quality of life – first and foremost, we are driven by our care for our own people. It’s a drive we encourage all businesses to adopt and a value which can drive business performance.

     

    Improving Quality of Life

    Sodexo chefsAt Sodexo, we talk about ‘Quality of Life Services’ – it’s our business and core mission which we aspire to reflect ubiquitously. Positive quality of life is created when businesses integrate their services with an overall focus on wellbeing; nurturing our employee, client and consumer relationships with a commitment to the communities where they operate. 

    We consider quality of life to be an important and yet largely unexplored aspect of individual and collective performance. The investments companies make into all aspects of health and wellbeing can help inspire strong loyalty and engagement among workers, which is vital to a happy, healthy and connected workplace. In my experience, employees will deliver the best service and work quality if they’re engaged and feel valued and recognised.

    There are so many unique ways every business can improve quality of life for employees; but, it all stems from creating a well-rounded workplace, which values physical health, mental wellbeing, and financial wellness.

    I recently sat down with the Australian Resources and Energy Group to discuss our employee engagement measure during COVID-19 as part of their Resource People podcast. Take a listen to the full podcast here.

    We currently have a number of opportunities for people to join our team in Australia. To find out more about our current job vacancies, visit our Careers page.