Human, digital focus impacts overall results

Emad Sonbaty of Orange Business Services

Emad Sonbaty of Orange Business Services

Orange Business Services is stepping up its “human digital” approach to talent management — a strategy that is already positively impacting its financial results.

Orange Business Services HR policies in Africa are 100% aligned with those of its parent company, telecoms giant Orange, which achieved Top Employers 2016 Global certification, recognising its Top Employer status across 29 countries and territories on five continents.

Orange Group and Orange Business Services’ approach to HR management is unique in that employee experience is assigned the same level of importance as customer experience, says Emad Sonbaty, head of HR services international, emerging markets & indirect.

Orange’s five-year strategic plan dubbed “Essentials 2020”, was unveiled last year with an enhanced focus on building an employer model that combines the digital with the human. The group says it aims to give equal attention to customers and employees with digital technologies key to supporting employee engagement.

The new employee-focused strategy includes leveraging a new digital learning platform and developing a skills marketplace; improving its collective agility by helping to improve employees’ digital skills and introducing more cross-functional and collaborative ways of working; increasing the representation of women in the group to 35% and aiming to increase employee share ownership.

“Our renewed focus on being a caring employer is already positively impacting our customer experience and our results,” says Sonbaty.
“Working for Orange is a unique experience. The culture can best be described as friendly, with a below-average staff turnover and employees who are proud brand ambassadors. In fact, while we do have marketing campaigns to prospective employees, our best marketing comes from our employees themselves. Through word of mouth, we are positioned as an employer of choice among students and graduates, which stands us in good stead in the war for talent.”

Taking a global approach

While Orange Business Services ensures that it complies with labour legislation in every country it operates in, its overall approach to HR is driven globally. This allows the group to implement policies in a cohesive and agile manner, says Sonbaty. “We have overcome the local office-global office disconnect. The corporate decision is the decision, which allows us to make decisions quickly and harmonise operations around the world.”

Welcoming diversity

With employees across five continents and across multiple generations and cultures, Orange Business Services strives both to encourage diversity and to ensure that employees speak with one voice to customers. “We might have staff in South Africa assisting customers in Europe, Vietnam or elsewhere. So all our employees must understand our corporate values and represent the company in a relatively standard way.  Due to our size and to maintain the Orange identity, we focus on what we call the ‘Orange compass’. At the same time, we see diversity as a strength, so we welcome input from various ages and cultures.”

Recognising changing priorities around work and work-life balance among employees, Orange Business Services offers flexible working hours and even teleworking in some cases. “Flexible working arrangements are beneficial for productivity, employee engagement and job satisfaction. It is also necessary because we are not a 9 – 6 organisation: because our customers need us 24/7, our employees must be available around the clock too. And if an employee was up at 3am dealing with an outage, we cannot expect them to be back at the office at 9am in the morning.”

Built on people

Because the group sees people as an asset and a business differentiator, it constantly strives to improve the employee experience. “People differentiate us, so we invest in our people. And the more we invest, the better our results are,” says Sonbaty.

“Training and development is key what we do. Through the group’s various academies and at its regional offices, staff benefit from development training, and focused technical training in areas such as IT, security and cloud, as well as soft skills and management training.” 

Across the group, Orange also develops innovative, remote training methods such as e-learning, serious games, mobile learning or micro learning, as well as virtual classrooms.

Uniquely, employees can select their preferred training courses from an internal catalogue of courses.  “We work 10 or 15 years in advance to ensure we will have the right skills in place for tomorrow, while ensuring that employees are engaged and cared for today. By attending to the employee experience, we impact the customer experience, because the two are interrelated and equally important.”

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