Happy employees, happy business
Happy employees means happy customers.
That is the simple principle which guides Jerome
Lemouchoux as he steers Sodexo Philippines as its chief executive officer for benefits and rewards services.
Aside from ensuring the business’ continued growth, Lemouchoux has taken it upon himself over the past three years to improve employee engagement.
“When I joined the [local] team in 2014, I discovered that the company’s level of employee engagement was not that high,” he says. “I have this strong conviction that if you want your customers to be happy, your employees should be happy, so we decided to work on our people first. We had surveys, focus group discussions with employees to see where they were coming from, what was wrong, and we [built] a plan based on these inputs.”
Using the company’s own products—think Sodexo and its gift certificates, or GCs, will most likely come to mind—Lemouchoux says the company improves employee benefits every year.
What he is most particular about, however, is transparency: Once a week, the CEO gathers everyone for a town hall meeting to discuss both good and bad news for the company, and also to celebrate birthdays.
“It’s very important to me to have that two-way communication,” he adds.
Sodexo’s double-digit year-on-year growth for the past three years, and the fact that it was awarded the Aon Hewitt Best Employer Program for 2016, which “recognizes organizations that are keen on driving high employee engagement, effective and efficient leadership, high performance culture and a compelling employer brand strategy,” seems to indicate that Lemouchoux’s “happy employees, happy customers” mantra is perfectly aligned with the company’s overall promise: to improve the quality of life of people.
The French company, which is actually more known worldwide for its “onsite” services such as facilities management, construction, concierge, office design and food service solutions, was established in the Philippines in 2003 through a partnership with SM for the management of the retail giant’s gift vouchers.
Since then, the company has remained the country’s only provider of benefits and rewards solutions to over 3,000 companies, as well as gift passes which can be used in over 9,000 stores nationwide.
The global corporation, however, was started in France to solve what was then a lacking benefit for workers in the country: a proper lunch break.
Sodexo first put up canteens to ensure that employees will have a proper hot lunch before getting back to work. “After that it expanded very fast. So for the last 50 years we have explored this idea, the quality of life,” says Lemouchoux. “We started with a canteen, but then we asked, how can we improve the work environment? That’s why we have on-site services. Worldwide, we are very famous for that, and so when I joined the Philippines, I was very surprised to learn it was our gifting [products] that were more popular.”
Lemouchoux chalks it up to the Pinoys’ tingi-tingi culture, which is why GCs in smaller denominations remain popular here in the country.
And, again, in keeping with Sodexo’s mission to improve quality of life, Lemouchoux made it a point, after being assigned to the local CEO post, to also find a way for the company to give back to the country through a partnership with nongovernment organization Life Project for Youth (LP4Y) as part of its corporate social responsibility program.
Sodexo, through LP4Y, provides impoverished youth a chance to start a fruitful career by giving them training on various businesses and life skills they would otherwise not receive because of their social status.
Some of Sodexo’s beneficiaries now work for the company, and that is definitely a win for the company—more happy employees, which means, more happy customers and ultimately, a better business.
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