Luiza Müller, HR Director, Orange Romania: In 2022, over a quarter of our employees experienced a career change within Orange
In March last year, Orange Romania marked a milestone, by renaming fixed services operator Telekom Romania Communications to Orange Romania Communications, and completing the transition process of Orange Romania Communications to the Orange brand, applied to all products and services. The changes came after Orange Romania acquired 54 percent stake in Telekom Romania Communications from Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, a major transaction of the telecom market that has been completed in September 2021.
The process of unification and convergence goes on up to now and impacts to the most profound and detailed levels of the company as the transition process is still ongoing. It also reflects in the multiple changes within the company’s departments, and this added to the other changes that have been created and implemented as development opportunities during the pandemic and after-pandemic, since 2020 to now. Maybe the foremost changes and new ways of approaching are mirrored at the level of people in the company and this leads directly to the HR department.
To structure and highlight the changes and the ongoing implementation towards the near future, we talked to Luiza Müller, the HR Director at Orange Romania, who is with the company for almost 25 years. After 19 years spent in the financial department as Accounting and Tax Director, Luiza took over the HR department five years ago and managed to coagulate here a special energy and a close approach of people and work environment.
Undertaking the authentic HR leading role
The unification and convergence process put weight and challenges on the shoulders of all organizational departments and this applied also to the HR. For HR team the challenge has been to align and close the gaps between two large companies with different organizational structures, processes and data. For this, as Luiza told us, it took and still demands a lot of effort, commitment and engagement at the level of all structures and strategy. So, in order to gain clarity and map the aspects that had to be addressed with priority, Orange run in the first month after signing the transaction the McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index solution. It measures and tracks the organizational elements that drive performance and it provides a simple, but powerful road map for leaders and managers to improve organizational health. So, the new unified entity will address the major differences and take actions to adjust, align and converge to a unified working-together style.
The HR department has been among, if the most subjected to transformation in the past years, and the pandemic pushed towards a profound change in the mindset and work processes in this department. The changes also came, as Luiza tells, from the other company’s departments that come up with different demands, ideas and approaches that enables the HR department to find solutions, to be innovative and discover new ways in the process.
A true HR leader must be recognized by both people and organization and be part of the CEO-CFO-HR leadership triangle that sets the direction of the company. And that involves a lot of responsibility and continuous training. You can’t just rely on intuition, common sense and experience, you have to generate educated decisions based on measurements. The HR leader must not only know and understand perfectly the company’s strategy, but must also be constantly connected to the market, to the entire business environment, to new trends and technologies, to increasingly sophisticated demands of clients and candidates, so that they can intervene proactively in making decisions regarding the future of the company.
Whether it’s specific HR processes – recruitment, recognition and benefits policy, well-being, development and learning, equality and inclusion etc. – whether it’s complex processes such as operational model transformation, the leader of HR, and the HR in general, must be the spearhead, the specialist you turn to when it comes to organizational and employee development.
Working for the best of employee experience
Development is a matter that, if done thoroughly, addresses three levels: mindset, behaviours, and practice tools. As Luiza said, at Orange they strive to, through every learning intervention, start from the mindset, precisely because, in the midst of their concerns as an HR team, it is the human being who chooses them and give his/her best for the interests of the organization. Therefore, this makes them accountable and compels them to give their best to their colleagues, when it comes to their development.
Their attention to all the candidates in the market has materialized in a series of programs they run for them: career counselling (through certified colleagues) or virtual discussions with Orange HR representatives. It is extremely important to also focus on those who, for some reason, do not end up joining the company at the end of a recruitment process.
If at organizational level they prove the success of employee development through the best score in the Orange Group obtained by Orange Romania in the learning organization chapter, at personal level they believe in the success their colleagues prove when their needs in the area of satisfaction are met. Therefore, they strive to ensure the satisfaction of the colleagues through several types of actions, a combination of which ensures the systemic development of the entire organization and employee community.
In addition to these, the synergies of multiple transparent and engaging platforms dedicated to all Orange employees led to a landmark figure in the corporate charts: over a quarter of their employees experienced a career change within Orange and more than 20% percent of the recruitment processes were closed with internal candidates.
Creating L&D multi-layered tools to lead employees to achieve their best
As Luiza says, there is a 360 degrees strategy to approach the learning and development in Orange Romania. Together with Nestor, a Romanian start-up and cloud platform that uses AI to guide step-by-step managers in developing coaching skills and employees in their personal and professional development, Orange developed a complex app dedicated to Performance Evaluation, Skills & Project Market and Team Culture, by which the company aims at setting a unified desired behaviours, competencies and best practices for all employees, no matter their organizational career level or department.
First, the company ran a pilot project in 2020 with some of its employees, and since the beginning of last year the Nestor platform has been implemented throughout the company, with every department, manager and employee having access to it. The pilot project engaged 150 colleagues of 10 teams for three months. It brought several challenges, since the company also kept the current platform used for payroll and all the management of Orange employees, and then they had to synchronize the two systems. On the other hand, in different business areas of the organization, the performance monitoring part was already done locally through various other methods, so they also had to investigate to what extent it is appropriate to start the journey with such synchronizations as well.
The platform, according to developers from Nestor, is a tool for employees’ development and management of business objectives through coaching and leadership practices. Its mission is to create the first organizational culture operating system with which companies can develop a culture focused on leadership and performance. The platform contributes significantly to increasing employee satisfaction, productivity and responsibility through a simplified process. The power of the platform lies in connecting different sources – calling them people data, through a unified process, offering back to companies’ real-time analysis and prediction tools.
Orange Romania is one of the reference trainers of the labour force in the country, having both tradition and access to the latest technologies in various fields of activity. Since 1997 it has shaped opinions, behaviours and ways of understanding work and life. Growing rapidly in the information age and digital communication, the organization started by hiring some of the best people the Romanian labour market had to offer and grew from that, by continuously self-updating with new ways of working, #technology and best practices.
As the Leadership programs delivered in the virtual environment can be as effective as those delivered on site, Orange continues its tradition and strengthens its #leadership culture through the programs launched in 2020 – ATOM, Lead Yourself & Team Culture. The Orange leader’s universe is centred on the ATOM program, a well-defined set of leadership behaviours and best practices – Activate Change, Team Up, Own It & Make it Happen. They regularly organize and manage development programs in an open system, open to all employees, communicated monthly at the level of training sessions and which do not involve any kind of conditioning or restrictions, with the aim of shaping skills with an impact in the personal and professional life of employees. Mirroring ATOM program for leaders, Orange developed Lead Yourself program for non-leaders.
But leadership culture does not stop at the level of company management. In the company, all employees are encouraged to develop by accessing the Lead Yourself program courses of their choice, all linked to ATOM competencies, and to provide feedback and feed-forward through a dedicated platform. In this way, they all relate to the same behaviours, defined at the company level as those that help them in their individual development and performance – these are tools that help them maximize their potential as leaders, as team members and as organization.
Another tool developed at Orange is a new onboarding platform and program, part of the broader Employee Experience program, designed as the customer experience platform, that brings together all the support functions for an Orange employee, from real estate, IT infrastructure, HR. As Luiza tells, it is a platform that enables to structure, visualize and run all the onboarding process for an employee, the full work experience journey, from the application to the exit interview.
At Orange, people work in a field where technology is “at home”. Therefore, all alternatives are put on the table and colleagues are even asked what is the degree of satisfaction in relation to one or another technology that, in the first phase, is being piloted. The basic principle is: facilitating access to more and more diversified technologies increases the efficiency, therefore also the satisfaction of colleagues, and, implicitly, offers better results in business. Orange makes available to its employees on the organization’s Intranet a community of certified coaches from among colleagues, in order to accompany them in the goals they want to achieve (the Coaching as a Service program).
Also, the community of Orange experts is also developed and promoted, through which the best of the best is recognized and invited to share with other colleagues the things they are good at and that can develop others (LeCO program – Learning experts’ community @Orange). This programenjoyed an almost unexpected success and engaged experts from tax, legal, technical, communication and digital, allowing the users to find on the platform all the formal and informal skills. There are more than 70 people in this community that have enrolled on this platform.
Also, Orange relaunched The EU funds – financed project “Digital skills for Orange employees – I, Digital”, intended for the development of skills in the field of information technology and communications of Orange employees located outside Bucharest and Ilfov county. According to available data, the project received last year non-refundable funding in the amount of 1.7 million lei from a total value of around 2.8 million lei. This project aims to improve through training the level of knowledge, skills and abilities of Orange Romania employees who work in the information and communication technology sector, an economic sector with competitive potential according to the National Strategy for Competitiveness, and in the field of information and communication technology, space and security, intelligent specialization field according to the National Research-Development and Innovation Strategy. Orange Romania is a lead participant in EU funded programs in areas like 5G, Future Network Architecture, Security and Business Continuity and many more. Such programs are selected to provide a pragmatic business context where the academic may embrace the practical implementation.
The Orange Educational Program – a landmark academic partnership in Romania
In 1997, Orange was among the companies that opened a path in Romania, that of involvement in the community. The Orange Educational Program, the educational project that raises future generations of telecommunications specialists, is the first social responsibility initiative the company has implemented.
From its launch in 1997, in partnership with Politehnica University of Bucharest, until now, more than 1200 students have graduated from the Orange Educational Program, more than 500 of them have taken part in internships within Orange Romania, and 165 have chosen to do their undergraduate work within the company. The investments made by Orange in the program are of almost 1 million euros, the amount being represented by scholarships offered to students, the equipment of the course laboratories and the installation of the wi-fi service, which provides free internet for students in all lecture rooms and the library.
At 25 years since the launch of the first edition, the program has developed and become an effective and reference partnership between the private and academic environments, based on innovation, research and technology, education and integration on the labour market and social responsibility. The Orange Educational Program is one of the reference public-private programs in the field of education, which offers students the framework for research and innovation, the opportunity to interact with the latest technologies, to work with Orange mentors and to develop and test innovative projects with practical applications. Upon graduating from the program, students have additional skills and abilities for integration into the labour market and even the chance to get a much better-paid job as a result of the experience gained.
For this year, besides the current partnership with Politehnica University of Bucharest, the company plans to expand it to other universities in Bucharest and around the country. Also, a big achievement and an ongoing development in terms of partnerships and innovation is the launch of Orange 5G Lab. An initiative in partnership with the “CAMPUS” Research Institute within Politehnica University of Bucharest (UPB), this is the first 5G laboratory in Romania, which offers companies the chance to develop the technologies of the future together with start-ups and academia.
The thoughts for 2023
And the perspectives for this year, from the Orange Romania HR point of view?
“There is a lot to do that lies ahead, many layers of operational and company structures that have to be addressed in the following years. We are still in the adjusting and aligning stage for both companies and we try to make this process as smooth as possible. All these have to happen on a very competitional market and within a fluctuant economic context. But we are optimistic and looking forward to the future, we rely on our company’s values and appreciate the most the commitment and engagement of our people. We put a great value on integrity, fairness and action and, with the help of all the platforms and digital tools that we use and continuously develop, we approach the One Home living and working style at Orange Romania”, concluded Luiza Müller, HR Director Orange Romania.