Today, and more than ever with the unprecedented situation that has confronted us since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world economy and companies everywhere have been turned upside down. People are already talking about the ‘new normal’, meaning that many of our old habits, behaviours, and beliefs will have to be re-evaluated. In fact, we should see some major transformations, and for good reason: in just two months we changed our modes of consumption, our working methods, and our means of communication.
In parallel, certain social and environmental trends that were already present before the virus hit are likely to accelerate rapidly. Meanwhile, the general public is becoming increasingly concerned about how companies behave in many areas, whether social or environmental. According to IFOP, companies are increasingly demonstrating the need to commit to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Thus, 73% of employees between the ages of 35 and 49 now believe that companies should prioritise their “actions in favour of the environment, social harmony, and the happiness of their personnel”.
VALUES SHOULD INFORM STRATEGIC DECISIONS
In this context, many organisations will suffer setbacks, and could even find themselves under threat. To avoid such risks, would simply getting back to fundamental values not be a solution? When we speak of values, we mean the rules a company follows to operate in its market and guide its strategy. These rules are both moral (commitment and loyalty to customers and employees, demanding quality in all circumstances, etc.) and societal (protecting the environment, developing a more ethical economic model, etc.). They can also incorporate a marketing dimension (proximity to the customer base, adaptability, flexibility, etc.) or a strategic one (innovation, boldness, transformation, etc.).
A company’s values reflect the vision of its shareholders and directors and how they view the company’s position in society, and they often feed back into the organisation of the company itself. At Comdata, we sincerely believe that values must be more than just a slogan. If they have been fully taken on board by all stakeholders in the company (employees, directors, and shareholders), they can really contribute to its success. Moreover, they are proving even more essential in today’s world, because they strengthen the company’s market position and help it to stand out from its competitors. One of the conditions for success, however, is that they must inspire and inform every strategic decision.
DIVERSITY BREEDS RESILIENCE
We didn’t wait for the current crisis before putting our values into action. At Comdata, we feel particularly strongly about diversity. It is a cornerstone of our strategy, whose foundation comprises all the communities that make up the Group: diversity of gender, age, sexual orientation, culture, origin, etc. With a presence in around twenty countries, that is at least how many nationalities are represented in our organisation, whether in our contact centres or within Comex; we reflect all the components of the company and, by the same token, all of our customers as well. That is probably one of the contributory factors to our renowned quality of service and high level of customer satisfaction. It is also thanks to this plurality that we are able to grasp new topics and any problems more quickly and calmly. For example, we anticipated the lockdown. Even before the government announcements, we reviewed the internal organisation of our contact centres, took health-related decisions in advance, and deployed smartworking at lightning speed. All of this occurred in a context of constructive dialogue with our workforce.
During lockdown, we also decided to place certain human resource development plans on hold, except one: upskilling in the area of collaborative agility. In this period, we decided to arrange for external professionals to train our employees on this topic, and especially on collaborative tools. We received very positive feedback for this course. Why this training? Because it uses our internal technologies to break silos, improve the exchange of information, act quickly and efficiently, and encourage participation by people of different backgrounds. Rather than a vertical organisation, we strongly believe in the idea of agile communities and the development of collective intelligence for faster decision-making. This is even more true with the growth of smartworking, which is becoming a new organisational model on an international scale.
Another important aspect is the encounter between different cultural aspects to examine a subject and innovate. During internal working group sessions in particular, we compare our visions and our points of view, whether the individuals concerned come from France, Morocco, Italy, Spain, or Colombia, etc. This incredible wealth of perspectives gives us better awareness of our environment, a better understanding of our customers, and helps us create an optimum operational organisation.
SETTING A COURSE AND A VISION THANKS TO VALUES
Diversity is also found in skills. Skills come from a wide variety of origins; whether they were gained through experience in other sectors or simply reflect a person’s natural ability, they enrich the collective reasoning and action. Particularly in our sector, we recruit individuals first and foremost; we are looking for potential, not qualifications, and that is one of the factors that make our organisation attractive. Diversity also attracts talent and people who consider that these values are an integral part of their decision to join us. Right from the recruitment process, applicants know that they can contribute their own background to the project that we are building every day.
Making these values come alive mean taking our share of responsibility in civil society and the local economy. We are aware of our role in employment, and especially in the field of inclusion. We will therefore continue to play our part in promoting employment, especially for young and disabled people, and to keep developing work-study arrangements within our organisations. The challenges to come only strengthen our convictions on this subject.
In recent months, we have had the opportunity to demonstrate our ability to be resilient by adapting quickly. This means that we were able to provide service continuity for our customers, protect our employees’ jobs, and maintain the social connection within our organisation. This is how values written into the DNA of the company set the course and provide a vision for employees, shareholders, directors, and customers. They are necessary for recruitment, for the organisation, and for the business. In fact, when talking to our BtoB customers, we find that the values advocated by a partner affect their decisions more than ever.
We believe that values must be present in our everyday actions. We are not in the habit of conducting major communication campaigns on this type of subject, because the values we advocate are brought to life and nurtured in our organisation every day. That is what our internal surveys reveal; likewise, the recent ranking of Comdata Morocco as one of the Best Places to Work. One of the qualities our teams notice most is respect for diversity. We want that value to last, and we intend to cultivate it to help us build the future.