Ongoing training

In a European economic context like the current one, which poses complex organizational challenges, the Group is steadily committed to implementing policies that combine business efficiency with employee needs. In the last two years, the European operating management restructuring process has also led to the development and integration of regional and international teams dedicated to enhancing the value of the Group by leveraging on the know-how and competencies of each individual country.

The development of Autogrill human resources undoubtedly stems from personnel recruitment and employer branding activities. The design and development of personnel recruitment systems represents an important investment by the Group, a key asset for the company and its growth: this is a process that must be based on transparency and equity in full compliance with criteria of equal opportunity and skill enhancement. Autogrill is also committed to the ongoing improvement of selection criteria aimed at identifying not only the required skills and competencies for the short term, but also the potential necessary to cover other positions in the long term, growing within and together with the Group.

This is also why the selection process is often complex and broken down into different steps. In Italy, aptitude tests (administered by qualified people), English tests and targeted interviews are used to identify the candidate’s congruence with the Autogrill competence model.

In all the countries in which the Group operates and especially for network positions, the selection process favors the hiring of personnel from areas adjacent to the location where the activities are carried out.

The improvement of the human capital is achieved also through job rotation and job posting processes within the Group companies, at the international level between different countries, but also for vacant office-based and network positions. To Autogrill, internal mobility represents an important tool for disseminating best practices at the Group level, developing the professionalism of the best talents and increasing the knowledge and skills of collaborators.

Traditionally, the Sales Network represents the key expansion area for the Autogrill Group, always looking for new personnel according to business seasonality. Recruitment mainly occurs through the “Work with us” section posted on the local websites and other career growth tracks (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube).

In all the countries in which the Group operates, relations and partnerships have been established with culinary schools and institutes. A few examples are: Autogrill Switzerland and Ecole Hotelier Lausanne; HMSHost and the Culinary Institute of America; Autogrill The Netherlands and the Maastricht Hotel Marketing School; the Avans Hogeschool in Breda and, last but not least, the collaboration between Autogrill Belgium and the Erasmushogeschool of Brussels and the Sint Lievens College).

There are also joint projects with universities for the development of new ideas, research and innovation (for example, in Italy, with the Bocconi University, the Milan Polytechnic and the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo).

Autogrill believes that establishing a direct bridge between the company and the universities represents a key tool for recruiting, while concurrently providing students with a professional orientation that enables them to develop the most suitable competencies to efficiently enter the world of work. In this respect, in partnership with Bocconi University, Autogrill experts carry out periodic aptitude tests and orientation interviews with students in order to support them understand their points of strength and improvement areas and, thus, become aware of the professional activities most in line with their personal skills.

A common platform to manage employee personal data
In order to identify the key areas for improvement and the most suitable actions to undertake in relation to people and for the development of the organization, it is necessary to rely on personal and organizational details that can be easily accessed and analyzed. In 2009, Autogrill Group started the Global HR Platform project (GHRP), a platform that, fed by the local employee personal data management systems, enables the corporate Human Resources functions belonging to the Group HR & Organization department to collect important information necessary to efficiently control human resources management processes. Thanks to the definition of shared semantics, the Global HR Platform enables HR functions to promptly obtain standardized and comparable information about the Group’s people (i.e. gender, age, type of contract, level, seniority level, education, etc.) with different levels of information accessibility. At 31 December 2013, GHRP includes the most significant data regarding the employees of the Group companies belonging to the F&B Europe Region (Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands and Spain). In 2014, the GHRP system will be extended to include Germany, the most important company among those still not covered.

The GHRP system allows us to:
- rely on a common master database, to be used to develop systems that support processes such as online training, internal job posting, people development, personal profile, etc.;
- enable access control and profiling on the Aconnect portal, communication management aimed at specific targets, text messaging services and knowledge management/exchange, in addition to integration process services like, for instance, People & Location Directory; which allows to share contacts (email addresses, telephone numbers, operating locations,...) of the colleagues registered on GHRP and automate corporate processes through the introduction of a work flow logic (i.e. employee data management for expense reimbursement purposes and reservation and approval of business trips);
-recover and register qualitative information regarding people (i.e. skills unregistered by traditional systems), also in a self-service format;
- reduce manual processing activities and facilitate prompt generation and updating of documents regarding the organization.

In order to enhance the Group’s dimension and capitalize on its know-how, best practices and the competencies available at the international level, in 2013 operating mechanisms were implemented aimed at consolidating the European organizational model pursued in the last years:

  1. HR policy standardization. Uniform grading systems, position weighting schemes and incentive systems (particularly for the Group’s executives) were defined. The transparency of the compensation processes was increased thanks to the standardization of the levels and job titles within the company and, in this respect, in 2014 new initiatives are expected to be implemented on the level of awareness of HR management systems and policies. Concurrently, tools were developed to better know the people (performance/potential mapping, succession planning, etc.) as well as the policies regulating international mobility.

  2. Employee potential evaluation and talent development. In this case as well, a standard, certified management process was developed, based on standard metrics shared at the Group level (and managed locally). For instance, obtaining broader managerial responsibilities and contributing to the formation of specific career paths. Since employee assessment takes into account the different competencies and behaviors according to the different levels of professional maturity, in 2013 behaviors characterizing the different "maturity" steps were defined. A “360° questionnaire” was then drafted, thanks to the feedback received from heads of functions, colleagues and collaborators, which enabled the company to work on participants’ awareness of their points of strength and areas of improvement at the managerial level.

  3. Establishment of international teams and structures. The development of international teams and structures was further pursued in 2013 (with the involvement of high potential collaborators), generating relocation options with a variable duration through transfers to other Group companies. The establishment of shared functions at the international level provided an additional employment opportunity within the Group, which led to the introduction of new “job families” like, for example, the Extended Business Travelers, international profiles who, reporting to the central organization of the F&B Region Europe, carry out activities not only in their country of origin but in all the countries in which the Group operates. In this respect, in 2013 an international academy was established with the objective of providing training options in English specifically targeted to employees of the central European headquarters. In 2013 the first international pilot project on Coaching and employee assessment was organized and held in English. Moreover, with a view to eliminating language barriers and facilitating communication inside and outside the organization, in 2013 128 employees in Italy, France and Spain took advantage of the online platform made available by Autogrill to improve English skills.

More in general, the evaluation process for competencies and performance was divided and optimized as a function of two different objectives: the first objective, the evaluation of competences, targets individual training and development, while the second objective focuses on performance, as a specifically designed tool orienting the individual’s professional performance.

The same automated online tool used to assess employee competencies and performance was extended to several countries (United States, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands and the corporate offices), managing the evaluation of employee competencies and performance both for the headquarters and the sales network (up to Heads of Service). This results in thorough transparency and ongoing accessibility also in terms of activity updating.

In 2014 the system will also be extended to the other main European countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland).

Online management of the process and the possibility of validating assessment forms by electronic signature enabled the company to substantially reduce the use of paper assessment forms.

The assessment of employee performance in the stores is more strictly correlated to sales and for this reason Autogrill is committed to involving and incentivizing employees through different initiatives.

For instance, the Company launched a Championship in September 2013 in Italy with weekly objectives linked to the commercial offering and sales. According to the project, the stores are committed from month to month to win the Cup and the Mascotte for the subsequent month as well as prizes of various kinds (tablets, discounts, etc.). The Beverage contest, which was held in Italy in collaboration with the Coca Cola Company, a traditional partner, was extended for the first time.

The Beverage contest, which was held in Italy in collaboration with the Coca Cola Company, a traditional partner, was extended for the first time at the Group level, involving 11 European countries and the United States. The winners won a ticket to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and to the World Football Cup in Brazil.

Compensation and Benefits
The Group’s compensation policy is based on incentive systems that are designed to recognize collaborators’ commitment and merits while promoting a sense of belonging and attracting talents from the outside. For the purpose of ensuring alignment among Group companies, the Group established international guidelines on different aspects concerning salary and compensation in full compliance with the currently applicable legislation and local regulations. One of the pillars of the system is the “weighing” of positions: a Group cross-sectional evaluation (an evaluation on a standard scale of the impact of any role on the organization), which is constantly aligned to labor market benchmarks in correlation with the positions covered. To ensure cost optimization in the management of these activities and the use of uniform benchmarks, the Group promotes centralized supplier services/analyses and the central management of initiatives that are proposed to the companies, assuming the roles of central co-ordination and data collection (i.e. pulse surveys that enable the Group to rely on specific compensation benchmarks broken down by country, limiting the efforts on the side of the various Group companies). Also, with regard to benefits the Group is committed to guaranteeing transparency and clarity to its collaborators. The mechanism for the acknowledgement of benefits does not particularly differ from standard labor contract formulas (fixed term contracts vs. permanent labor contracts and part time vs. full time), but varies according to the different geographical areas as a function of the relevant applicable laws that comprise or exclude specific situations and/or welfare and insurance coverage (health care, accident coverage, maternity or paternity leave, disability) and local labor market practices. Corporate supplementary pension funds and insurance certainly constitute a self-explanatory example. In some countries the law promotes their use, providing tax benefits in return. A clear example is that of HMSHost, which published its salary scheme on the Company’s Intranet, thus enabling people to understand the logic behind the construction of their packages. For the purpose of underscoring the relevance attributed to transparency, in the United States Autogrill Group launched a communication campaign in Spanish to enable first language Spanish collaborators to perfectly understand their situation and the advantages offered. In 2013, the same automated tool used to assess performance was also adopted to manage MBOs, enabling the online management of the various steps along with the possibility of validating the electronic signature. This resulted in a high level of transparency and the possibility of keeping and tracing comments. 

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Collaborator training represents a key lever for personnel development and the development of Autogrill Group. It is a twofold investment, benefiting both the collaborator and the company.

The management of each country in which the Group operates decides independently on matters pertaining to the development of its local training programs, but the underlying criteria applied are shared by the entire Group. The starting point is an analysis of the processes of evaluation of competencies, followed by the suggestions made by collaborators themselves to identify action plans upon which to focus. For instance, HMSHost plans store visits aimed at determining and analyzing employee training needs in the stores.

In Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, North America, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland training is regularly provided directly in the points of sale or through dedicated training centers. The courses are designed for internal staff and network employees. The provision of training activities in the stores follows the concept of “cascade training”.

This means that store directors and/or managers themselves pass on the training they have received, enriched by the experience accrued over time in the field, directly to their collaborators.

Technological supports also play an important role in training. The Moodle web-based platform, accessible from Aconnect in the Company's Intranet, is used to disseminate training in Europe, while a different web-based platform is used for training in the United States.

In Italy, the installation of “kiosks”, made available to all employees (PC-based ergonomic consoles, including keyboard and intranet connection), located in selected stores of the sales network, facilitated the provision of online training.

In Italy, training for Heads of Service, Assistant Managers and store managers is provided in nine dedicated spaces in the network.

Since 2012 Autogrill has adhered to Valore D, the first Italian association grouping large companies to promote the presence of women in their organizations.

The activities carried out by the organization to support women's leadership develop in three directions: towards women as managers, Italian companies and the organization as a whole. It promotes an innovative organization that overcomes the implicit prejudices associated with gender while favoring conciliation and providing female managers with tools and knowledge useful for their career development. It proposes a new cultural model that fosters women's participation in the economic and social life of the country. A group of women operating in the Autogrill central headquarters took part in the association and participated in meetings and workshops on these issues, investing in a different approach to business as an added value for the company.

In 2012 HMSHost launched “People First” in a number of locations. This is a training course that aims at developing a new culture entirely focused on people, to the benefit of both collaborators and customers. “People First” involves store managers in training and development initiatives pertaining to teamwork and the development of managerial and leadership skills, without neglecting to put great emphasis on the importance of feedback as a key tool to favor employee development and motivation.

“Manager in Training” is one of the support tools of the People First program, dedicated to the new managers who participate when hired or promoted.

The objective is to provide them with information from different areas, including HR management, IT, safety, cash management and food security. In 2013, the organization also launched the “Development Operations Leadership” training program: 16 Heads of Operations were selected as "future leaders" and attended various training courses. The general objective of the program is to develop a team of Heads of Operations who are always ready in case of new openings.

In 2013 the US Information Security department launched a web-based interactive course on Information Security for all managers and middle managers of the headquarters and the stores located in the US and Canada (approximately 3,000 people). The objectives are:

  • raise awareness in relation to the current IT threats; 
  • raise awareness in relation to the employee role in protecting HMSHost employee privacy and IT integrity; 
  • ensure that employees are always in a position to take actions proactively in recognizing IT attacks (like spam emails), paying attention when they use public networks and services and protecting sensitive corporate information.

Last year, as usual, HMSHost offered a reprise of a training course to raise employee awareness concerning the contents of the code of ethics, to enable them to make appropriate decisions and report any suspect, unfair situations or potential violations of the company policies or the law.

This training was launched in 2012 in the United States, Canada and Australasian countries, involving more than 2,800 employees. The course is expected to be extended to all the other employees in 2014, in two languages: English and Spanish. A posttraining assessment of the level of acquisition of the concepts taught was also included.

In Spain, in addition to Heads of Service, trained as training facilitators, a team of tutors was established, comprised of individuals who received training from the HR department to disseminate campaigns relating to food products, coffee and beer. These tutors contribute to distributing training to all network employees. In specific months, the Heads of Service leave their stores to go and train colleagues in other restaurants.