Over the last two years, as the world has battled COVID-19 pandemic, organisations have had to be innovative in the ways they relate with their employees. While some organisations had to close down completely, Vodafone managed to fight through the challenges presented by the pandemic in a way that brought teams in the organisation together, even though they were physically apart. We had a conversation with the team at Vodafone to get more insight into this, and this is what ensued:

1.What is the work culture at Vodafone Ghana?

Ans: We are a purpose driven organization and our culture is centered around 4 pillars also known as the SPIRIT of Vodafone. These 4 pillars guide the way we work and brings us together around shared beliefs. These four pillars are Earning Customer Loyalty; Creating the Future; Experiment, Learn Fast; Getting it Done Together.

2.What unique steps did Vodafone take to ensure employee satisfaction during the pandemic?

Ans: First of all, it was having in place a solid business continuity plan which allowed us to quickly get the business continuity team together to structure our COVID response plan. Second, we ensured that leadership communicated often and frequently and provided various avenues for employees’ voices to be heard. Our CEO had biweekly all employee virtual sessions where she updated the organization and then an open forum afterwards where employees could ask questions. Third, our Health Safety and Wellbeing team joined forces with our Learning and Development team to partner closely with our health care providers and at least once a month, had an expert engage virtually with employees on topical issues including mental wellbeing; ergonomics; COVID-19 Q&A’s etc. Fourth, we needed to keep employees engaged and so we came up with #RedConnect which was a virtual session where we brought DJs to play music and we had a virtual party. We also had virtual cooking sessions, comedy and movie sessions which “Getting it done Together”. Finally, we had pulse surveys that had only about 6-7 questions, basically asking employees “how are you feeling?” “Do you have the support needed to get your work done?” “Do you feel connected to your team?”. These were some of the questions that were sent out every quarter and which greatly informed us about how employees were doing/ feeling and helped us come up with solutions to some of their issues.

3. How were you able to rally the Vodafone team to achieve your goals as an organisation in the year 2020,

Ans: Through a number of ways, first of all by ensuring that employees had the tools they needed to work remote. Secondly, we trained all Line Managers on how to manage a remote workforce and impressed upon them the critical role they would play as coaches, mentors and the importance of frequent check-ins and KPIs instead of longer-term goals. Them we trained all employees on working remote, expectations as well as training on using digital remote working tools. Above all these, we ensured that employees understood that their health, safety and wellbeing would always be paramount and we would also do whatever we could to ensure that no one lost their job during the period by cutting back in other areas and calling on all employees to pay attention to spend. About 95% of our staff were set up to work remote including our Call Center staff. For our frontline staff who couldn’t work remote, we bussed them to and from work, provided free Uber/Bolt services, provided lunch etc and had senior leadership paying them visits in the field to boost morale and assure them they were not alone.

4.What initiatives are being taken to ensure that every goal is achieved this year, in spite of the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Ans: Well, the saying goes that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. Our plan to get employees to remain productive has worked very well and we intend to keep to that plan as well as of course tweaking as and when we notice a new trend or get insight into challenges from our frequent pulse surveys.

5. How would you say your employees are adjusting to these initiatives?

Ans: Our employees have adjusted very well and again a huge part of it is due to the initial work we did to ensure that everyone was on the same page regarding our strategic goals through frequent communication and check-ins. Also, providing the environment where everyone rallied around the SPIRIT and coming together as one to face the challenges has been key. We will of course continue innovating as well as gain insights from the pulse surveys to address any challenges.

6. What are the various HR teams that operate within Vodafone?

Ans: HR Business Partners; Talent Acquisition and Talent Development; Learning and Development; HR Services; Compensation and Reward; Health, Safety and Wellbeing; Fleet; Property; Employee Engagement and Internal Communications.

7. How do you manage to keep these teams working together?

Ans: Through a very rigorous governance process which includes weekly team huddles, frequent 1:1’s, weekly HRLT meetings, quarterly team goal achievement reviews, etc. We also create bonding moments by our kenkey and waakye parties, yearly HR Awards and Party, where we recognize key achievements by team members and celebrate our achievements as a team. The SIPIRT of “Getting it Done Together” is very much alive in our HR Team and that is how we have been able to provide such an incredible backbone and response to our employees and the organization this past challenging year.

8. What are some of the challenges that employees faced while working from home during the pandemic last year? How were these challenges resolved?

Ans: Some dealt with anxiety and mental health challenges from the effects of the pandemic. Seeing loved ones critically ill and sometimes pass away took a huge toll. We scheduled a session with all employees and our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) team to remind everyone of the free resources we have which include psychologists and other providers. Our EAP team saw an increase in usage which is a great thing. We also frequently invited expert Psychologists to have virtual lunch and learn sessions with the team. For employees who were going through the trauma of stigmatization in their communities after recovering from COVID, we also had sessions to equip them with tools to cope.

9. What are some of the unique technological tools or software that were used to make this period manageable?

Ans: Communication tools like Microsoft Teams, Skype etc. have been key. As well, our engagement platforms including Facebook Workplace became critical for disseminating information as well as having our virtual fun sessions. We moved all training to virtual platforms and Webex, Teams and other such platforms have been helpful. As well, our online university, Vodafone University which has tons of learning materials has been critical in providing employee training and development. Employee Self Service tools like ToBi, our internal chatbot has also been a life saver. These are just a few of the digital tools.

10. As agile working continues, what measures have been instituted to ensure that employees are productive and maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Ans: As a technology company, it has been easier for us probably more so than others to get our employees the digital tools needed to work in a remote environment. We started our digital transformation and agile working a few years ago and we are reaping the benefits now. COVID-19 certainly accelerated the process. We constantly communicate and demonstrate to employees that their health, safety and wellbeing is number one above all else which is why our engagement scores actually grew during this pandemic. The various programs we have mentioned above speak to our focus on employee wellbeing. This year, we will be putting in place an employee mental health cohort who will be trained to provide first step counselling to others who may need to just reach out to someone. We have won the global Vodafone yearly Wellbeing Challenge more than 5 times by engaging everyone to take up physical activities and keep healthy. We will continue to innovate, putting employee wellbeing at the center of everything we do.

11.If you had to describe the various Vodafone Ghana HR Teams in one word, what would it be?

Ans: Collaborative!

12.What do you think the future of Vodafone teams look like?

Ans: Exciting! There is so much going on with our transformation from a telecommunications company to a technology communications company and the journey ahead of us is full of innovation and we are so excited about creating the future. As a purpose led organization, we are putting humanity at the center of our technology and we truly believe that “Together We Can”.

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