‘All our people deserve good managers’

Kronos has been named one of the Best Workplaces for Women in the UK. workingmums.co.uk spoke to senior members of the team about what puts them ahead of the competition – engagement and an interest in listening to their workforce.

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Global workforce management company Kronos has just been named a top 10 Best Workplace in the UK and, for the first time, a Best Workplace for Women. It has also won Best Workplace for Women in India and, for the sixth year running, in Canada.

So what is behind these awards?

David Morgan, Senior Director Human Resources, International, says Kronos’ approach starts from the idea that, to be successful, you need engaged employees. That approach is led from the top by the CEO Aron J Ain and the executive committee.  Morgan says it is no coincidence that the company has grown as Kronos has begun to understand better what it takes to have an engaged workforce.

To do so, it checks in with staff regularly and asks them about their levels of engagement. Over the last five years the company has evolved what it calls a WorkInspired Culture, which includes regular reviews of what engagement means and developing an index for leaders on how to engage people better. “All our people deserve good managers,” says Morgan, adding that Kronos is aware that good companies need to ensure that they are thinking about how to make the work environment better on a continuous basis if they want to recruit and retain the best talent.

The company backs this ethos up with a regular internal survey where over a sixth of the questions are about line manager effectiveness. “You can only have a good organisation when you have empowered people led by good managers,” states Morgan.

Covid response

Asked about the company’s response to Covid-19, Morgan says lockdown and the shift of its 12,000 employees to remote working came as it was going through a merger – on October 1st it becomes UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group). This meant there was a need to tap into how people were feeling generally about not just working from home, but also the merger and to find out how they wanted to work in the future if they had the right equipment and support. Kronos has asked employees their views on this on three occasions since March as the terrain is shifting fast.

Their views are fed back to the senior leadership team and shape strategies and ways forward. Morgan says the company has no plans to return to the office until at least January.

Morgan is acutely aware of the challenges Covid has brought for women in particular. In the UK, he says it was clear early on that people needed the space, time and flexibility to adapt to lockdown working and develop new routines around caring responsibilities. It also introduced a $2.5K grant for workers whose families had been particularly affected by Covid, for instance, if a partner had lost their job. The aim was to take financial pressure off people in the short term. “It’s a testament to the connectivity of our senior leaders that we spotted this pressure pretty quickly and how we could make it easier for people,” says Morgan.

Other things that Kronos learned from lockdown include the importance of focusing on mental well being and personal accountability and the need to be aware that every person might be facing different circumstances. It put on virtual coffee breaks for people across the organisation, regular check-ins and launched a summer survival kit, including tips for improving sleep and ergonomic advice as well as information about desk-based yoga.

The company also quickly brought in a ‘wisdom for working mums’ programme led by a coach in recognition of the extra pressures on mums during lockdown. HR Business Partner Becky Taylor says: “We put together a workshop programme to alleviate mum guilt.” It included tips on how to flourish in lockdown, how to ask for help and how it is ok not to feel ok. Thirty-five women joined and took part in two sessions. Nine women wanted to keep going with individual coaching around particular issues. Kronos also has a networking site for working mums where they post helpful information.

“It’s important to learn and act quickly and to be agile,” says Morgan, adding that the forthcoming performance review process will include conversations about how people survived Covid and what the possible impact might be on confidence levels so the company can address any fallout. Morgan says Covid has enabled the company to have positive conversations about issues such as the pressures on working parents and mental well being.

Leading by example

For mum-of-two Nicole Bello, Vice president of sales for SMEs and channels, EMEA, what has most helped her is the sense that the CEO backed the family-first message. He provided video updates of eight to 10 minutes every week from his home  with his wife present and his dog on his lap. “It showed him as a human being  dealing with the same stuff we were going through.  He said this is tough and if you need to take a nap in the middle of the day that is OK,” she says. “He could not have been more transparent. He knew we could get our jobs done wherever we were working and no-one took advantage.”

Over the years Kronos – half of whose senior leadership team in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region is female – has developed several initiatives to help promote women, including a women in leadership group which has just been relaunched as part of the new merged company. This provides mentoring, advice, talks from senior women and ideas on how to level the playing field.

Kronos also has its eyes firmly fixed on the future and is keen to be at the forefront of innovation in HR. In 2019 it joined forces with academics and non-profits to co-sponsor the Equity Work Council which focuses on thought leadership with regard to diversity and inclusion.

Morgan adds that the awards Kronos has entered are also a driver of innovation because they allow the company to see how it compares to others who are doing similar things. “It means we are constantly thinking about what we need to do to attract and retain talent,” he says, adding that the company’s best ideas and initiatives are based on listening to their people. “It doesn’t matter what exciting ideas we come up with if they are not the things our people want they are a waste of time,” says Morgan. “The best solutions come out of listening to what people are telling us.”

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