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Customer Experience

How customer experience learnings helped Veolia improve the employee experience

As we move forward through the global pandemic, it’s important business leaders continue to meet frequently in order to make the fast, agile business decisions that are increasingly critical to success.

Last year many organisations were quick to form COVID-19 response teams tasked with ensuring the safety and wellbeing of employees. These teams should not be scrapped even though the immediate crisis appears to be over. Rather, they should become a permanent weekly or bi-weekly engagement in a leader’s calendar.

This is for two reasons.

First and foremost, there is still a lot of change ahead as people redesign their employee experience for the new expectations, behaviours, and preferences people have around the way they work. To do this well, leaders need to capture insights across the business to make informed changes improving the employee experience. Secondly, these meetings provide a forum to bring together a diverse range of thinking, learning, and experience that when combined helps drive innovation.

The work undertaken at Veolia Australia and New Zealand to support its 4,500 employees during the pandemic is proof why leaders should continue to meet frequently after the pandemic.

CX learnings turn EX vision into reality

When Kate Moonen, Veolia’s Head of Marketing and Digital Experience, joined the company’s COVID-19 Response Team the challenge faced was markedly different to her normal day job - driving loyalty and sales among customers. However, her deep experience managing Veolia’s voice of the customer program proved to be a key asset as the company set to work on helping employees through the crisis.

“Communication has been critical throughout the pandemic. Especially at the outset where things were moving so quickly and regulations were changing daily. The COVID-19 response team was meeting three to four times a week, and we had to find ways to get information out quickly,” said Kate Moonen.

With a workforce spread across 190 locations and made up of various roles - including truck drivers, engineers, lawyers, and sustainability experts - one of the biggest challenges facing Veolia was to tailor its engagements for each employment persona.

“Technology was essential in helping us communicate with employees across locations and devices. My team was already using Qualtrics to manage our engagements with customers across channels, so extending the platform’s capabilities to our employees was a natural extension,” said Moonen.

Realising the importance of listening to employees

Using the Qualtrics Remote + On-site Work Pulse and drawing upon its expertise with Qualtrics, Veolia was able to rapidly implement the employee listening program it needed for frequent and tailored interactions across SMS and email. It represented a big shift from the company’s annual engagement program. But the impact was immediate.

“One of the things that surprised me the most was the level of employee engagement Qualtrics enabled. We had consistently excellent response rates as people took the opportunity to ensure their voice was heard,” added Moonen.

Veolia was not alone in having employees that wanted to be heard in 2020. According to findings in the 2021 Qualtrics Employee Experience Trends, 94% of employees in Australia and New Zealand think it’s important their company listens to feedback - a 26% increase on 12 months previously.

Action drives results

Listening alone isn’t enough to improve employee experience. To drive real value businesses have to act on it to - an area where Veolia excelled.

“Employee insights captured by Qualtrics helped our team formulate a plan of attack in terms of what changes and action was needed. This helped us get practical things like personal protective equipment into the field, while also helping gauge the pulse of our team’s wellbeing and sentiment.

“A common piece of feedback was people wanted to hear from business leaders. In response we kept them updated through short live webinars and Q&As with senior managers. Another thing we did was issue short video messages from leaders through SMS. Some shared personal stories about how they were dealing with the pandemic outside of work, which helped drive more engagement by demonstrating we’re all in this together. It helped people not feel alone,” said Moonen.

3 ways to rethink the employee experience

The impact of Veolia’s voice of the customer program on the company’s employee experience has made a lasting impact. New behaviours and engagements adopted during the pandemic have flowed through into the general day-to-day operations at the company - including regular video messages from the CEO.

With many organisations rethinking their employee listening programs, Moonen offers three pieces of advice:

  1. Don’t overthink it - Getting engagements out quickly is better than taking months to come up with something that is no longer relevant by the time it is launched
  2. Be agile in thinking - Make sure you do act on feedback, and be explicit in what you’re doing and why
  3. Be honest - You won’t always have the immediate solution, but people will appreciate the transparency and that you are listening

More change and challenges await employers, such as how to build hybrid working models and onboarding remote workers. It means businesses need to enable ways allowing them to share learnings and best practice across the organisation, as well as access frequent insights into their employee experience to take swift action on the issues that matter.

Veolia - through the models and technologies adopted - is a leading example of a business that is rethinking the way it listens and acts on employee feedback for this new world. And its employees agree. When asked if the company is taking the right steps in the context of COVID-19, 97% of its workforce in ANZ agreed. By using regular and intelligent insights, Veolia is able to drive continuous changes improving the experience for its workforce.

Explore the key considerations and steps businesses need to take in their return-to-work strategies.