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Full digitalisation of Human Resources

In the modern era, the concept of digitalisation is at the centre of attention as technology invades more and more areas, and the Human Resources (HR) department is no exception.

As a Group that is never complacent but rather constantly seeks to look ahead, the digital transformation of the HR department plays a key role in streamlining operations, improving efficiency and creating a more attractive workplace.

HR Digitalisation has revolutionised its ways of operating, as the HR team is now able to easily track employee data, and manage payroll, benefits and employee performance, through a centralised platform.

This evolutionary and pioneering step enables us to automate time-consuming HR tasks, freeing up valuable time for HR professionals to focus on more strategic initiatives.

In a recent interview with IN Business News, the Director of Human Resources and Sustainability, Melanie Michaelidou, shares with us the journey to the full digitalisation of our Group’s HR department.
Η Διευθύντρια Ανθρωπίνου Δυναμικού και Βιώσιμης Ανάπτυξης του Ομίλου μας, Μέλανι Μιχαηλίδου
What is the importance of digitalisation for the Group and what does it mean in practice?

C.A.Papaellinas Group entered the Digital Transformation era six years ago, with the aim of modernising all our operations and achieving our goals. This contributed significantly to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic found us largely prepared in order that we could face the challenges which the entire business world, government agencies and society as a whole had now before them with a focus on ensuring the smooth running of both the healthcare sector and the economy. More generally, teleworking and social distancing, which emerged as an urgent need due to the pandemic crisis, have reinforced the digital technologies penetration in both the economy and society, with a major impact on the entire economy as well as on citizens’ lives.

Our Group began its digital transformation journey from the activities of the HR Department, whose responsibilities are fundamental to the Group’s human resources which, in reality and not as a figure of speech, are its most valuable asset.

Through its HR Digital Transformation, the Group enhances its people-centric business activity, further strengthening the foundations needed in order to attract, retain and develop competent and talented human resources. Digital transformation enabled us to simplify processes and automate daily tasks, thus reducing not only time spent on routine functions but also paper waste to a minimum. Where paper is still used, this is done in accordance with all conditions imposed by green development that is also an area on which we focus our attention.

We started our digital evolution’s journey by implementing an e-learning platform, with the ultimate goal of further enhancing knowledge and skills development for our stores’ employees. Subsequently, electronic platform has also been adopted by other departments of the Group.

We then proceeded to the implementation of the HR Mobile Application through which colleagues can send their leave requests for approval. They can also see their payroll status, their leave balance, their working hours, and receive various updates. Another important tool is Blue Jam, an HR Self-service digital portal. Through the use of Blue Jam, colleagues are able to find all information related to their employment, such as payroll, insurance, welfare fund, family benefits and discounts on Group’s products. Moreover, they can stay informed about the Group’s news, events, job vacancies, even about the menu of the day at the Group’s restaurant. Also through Blue Jam, competitions can be organised, while colleagues can communicate with each other by using chat rooms.

Another digital tool available is the Stuff Fund Management Platform. Through this platform, colleagues have access to their personal account, with all information on the status of their Stuff Fund. They also have the possibility to apply for a loan and change their contribution rate.

Employment contracts can now be conducted electronically, and the same applies to all our systems: Performance Target System, Performance Review at six months of employment, while we are in the process of implementing Recruitment Module.

What do you consider to be the three key benefits of HR Digital Transformation?

The first thing I would say is the increase in HR operations’ efficiency with an emphasis on development, such as Learning & Development, Talent Management, the onboarding of new colleagues, and Recruitment. Secondly, the simplification of workflow through task automation (minimizing bureaucracy and paper consumption) and, last but not least, employee self-service.

How can the Group’s workforce respond to these needs (digital) and what have you done in this regard?

The digital transformation process is a journey. With beginning, middle and end. However, every journey has an end, while digital transformation is never-ending. It is in constant evolution, there is always something new that you need to be proactive and prepared to implement.

As with all change, there needs to be a common understanding of where we want to go, as well as a shared commitment to achieve our common goal. The role of HR Management has been a catalyst in the successful implementation of the project, as in the context of Project Management by defining project specifications and coordinating the stakeholders involved, and a regulator in establishing a culture of change. A major challenge we faced was to train 600 people and to convince them to undergo a change in the way they work every day. Many people were flexible and very positive about change. However, there were also challenges as other people were not at all familiar with technology. We assigned colleagues from different departments of the organisation the role of HR Champion. HR Champions were selected on the basis of specific characteristics, such as knowledge of the systems, easy accessibility and communicability, and worked closely with HR Management. Colleagues could rely on them for technical issues and to resolve queries. The overall effort produced only positive results as we constantly see the benefits of change.

How do you view the future of work taking into account technological developments?

I do not believe there is anyone thinking that the future of work is not going to be affected by technological advances. First of all, technological advancements are nothing new. The industrial revolution brought about drastic changes; new jobs were created while others disappeared. Particularly now that we stand on the brink of a new technological revolution which is changing the way we live, work and interact with each other. We are now talking about metaverse, transhumanism, biotechnology.

Artificial Intelligence, automation and the use of robotics are increasingly invading the workplace. This certainly has a profound impact on various professions, some of which will become redundant, some others will be differentiated, while new ones will emerge.

If we assume that you are not one of those organisations which agree with the view that at some point technology will replace people’s jobs, how would you explain your position?

At C.A.Papaellinas Group, technology does not replace jobs, at least not at this stage. Yes, it is true that automation enables us to do our jobs faster and more efficiently, especially in regard to repetitive tasks, hence the use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). In the future, some roles will definitely be reshaped; some of them might disappear, just as some others might be created. Especially in recent years, new jobs have emerged that were unimaginable ten years ago, such as in the fields of Business Intelligence, Digital Marketing, and Customer Insight.

As a person working in HR, I obviously contend that technology can in no way replace personal contact, human interaction, creativity and empathy. C.A.Papaellinas Group is a human-centered organisation. That is why its mission has been clearly defined as: “To make more and more people live and feel better.”