How Saint-Gobain Prioritises New Ways of Working into their Company Culture

6 minutes read
By Sinakho Dhlamini, HR Content Marketing Specialist, Top Employers Institute
Sinakho Dhlamini
Content Marketing Specialist

Embracing change and figuring out innovative solutions to new challenges is necessary for any successful organisation, especially over the last few years of rapid shifts across the world. Certified Global Top Employer Saint-Gobain understands the importance of making these necessary and innovative changes to improve their organisation for their employees. 

Izabela, Leadership and Culture Manager at Saint-Gobain, told us how in 2021 Saint-Gobain asked two key questions to 38 of their HR Teams across the globe:

  1. Which new ways of working have you experienced during the last period of Covid (with some examples)?
  2. Among The new ways of working, which ones do you think are sustainable in the long run?

We interviewed Izabela to better understand why doing this research was necessary for their organisation as we explore their objectives and expectations in starting this project. 

Saint-Gobain’s management team were aware that the impact of the global pandemic was the largest accelerator for change in their organisation as it increased the need to work from home while also limiting people’s ability to travel. These changes brought in some unexpected positive consequences. They noticed that it increased the efficiency, autonomy, flexibility, and well-being of their employees. It also contributed to the sustainability of the planet by reducing their carbon footprint through less travel and digitalisation of their businesses. These forced new ways of working accelerated the culture of Trust Empowerment and Collaboration (TEC) – their desired culture.

Where do they go from here?

Izabela specified that “very earlier on, we decided that we do not want to go back.” The official policy issued in July 2020 coming from Top Management was to move towards a hybrid way of working, reaping the benefits of both remote work and working at the office. With the accelerated adoption of the new ways of working, the constraints which forced TEC during the crisis should be now replaced by further integration to make the new solutions sustainable.

Making these changes is not as simple as it may seem. Saint-Gobain has emphasised that it is important to underline the efforts, gather the great ideas across the globe, and use and spread them largely. 

Results of implementing their new way of working

In changing the way that they work during the crisis Saint-Gobain has collected a total of 72 best practices around the area. Some of the practices that their team are reporting are creative like meditation, a well-being app, and out of work-related webinars but most of them are simple, focusing on people, and mental and physical support. It shows how consistent they are with their human values and culture.

Simple changes make the biggest results

At Saint-Gobain, they found that these simple practices that might seem obvious were powerful. And it was the objective of their many workshops – to show that many simple elements may contribute to a big change in working culture. Creating an inspiring movement with clear expectations would help to accelerate the adoption of Saint-Gobain’s Trust Empowerment Collaboration ways of working and leadership behaviours initiated as part of T&G and accelerated by the Covid-19 crisis.

Sustainability of the changes

Their HR team noted that some practices were put in place for the crisis, including, “ad hoc” reactions like vaccination or respiratory testing. Some of the changes may stay for longer once they have discovered their value. These changes that may stay include practices like wellbeing and mental health webinars, employee recognition programs, flexible working arrangement and more. The objective of these practices was to inspire, adopt and adapt to the local business situation and employee’s needs.

What will Saint-Gobain do with all the information they gathered

As Izabela clarified: “We do not want to stop at the diagnosis step. We do not [want] to be prescriptive, but to inspire employees, give them examples and provoke a reflection”. As a Certified Top Employer, their organisation and teams have made a big investment in their people, and they want to make the best of it. 

The idea was to follow up with some workshops. They have invited people from HR and shared the global trends, insights, and findings on New Ways of Working in a non-standard way. Their reflection based on these findings contributed to a playbook which they’ve called “New Ways of Cooking”. It contains different recipes of “magic dishes or potions”, bundles of good practices, which may help to overcome some reluctance, relieve the pain linked to new working rules, new ways of management or communication. 

They are planning to release their book in anticipation of the Saint-Gobain Career Day.

How can other organisations learn from Saint-Gobain?

To make these new ways of working work in your organisation they recommend starting by setting a clear direction. Izabela emphasised that “you need to foster the culture in your strategy and make sure that there is a consistent message coming from the managers in the organisation.”

Saint-Gobain had the maturity and clarity of strategy to see the opportunities that were open to them by implementing new ways of working. They are continuing to move forward for the benefit of everyone in their organisation. 

Success for Saint-Gobain and any other organisation means they are taking an active role in shaping the future rather than adapting to it or trying to go back to the way things were.

About Izabela Ignasiak

Saint-Gobain University – Leadership & Culture Manager at Saint-Gobain

With international experience and French-Polish culture, Izabela has been working for 15 years in Saint-Gobain Group. As a head of Learning & Development at country level, HR in local business and in central teams she has a continuous focus on the maximisation of people performance the talent growth. She oversees leadership development and the initiatives reinforcing TEC Culture and New Ways of Working at Saint-Gobain.

Personally, she is driven by making connections, helping people to work in a collaborative way, fostering collective intelligence to innovate – building the strong culture to best support strategy. Izabela has linguistic and commercial background as a graduate of Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan, INALCO and of the Paris-Dauphine University.

About Saint-Gobain

Worldwide leader in light and sustainable construction, Saint-Gobain designs, manufactures and distributes materials and solutions for the construction, mobility and industrial markets. Developed through a continuous innovation process, our integrated solutions provide sustainability and performance in daily life, addressing the renovation of public and private buildings, light construction and the decarbonization of construction and industry. In this way, we contribute to reducing carbon emissions, leveraging resource efficiency and increasing circularity.

Saint-Gobain believes in progress and seeks to be a game-changer that improves individual and collective health and wellness. We are convinced that the solutions that meet everyone’s essential needs and allow us to live better together, without jeopardizing future generations, are still to be invented.

Our commitment to reach this ambitious objective is guided by our shared purpose “MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER HOME”.

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How Saint-Gobain Prioritises New Ways of Working into their Company Culture

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