Find out why Heineken is all for its employees’ right to disconnect
03 de March de 2021
03 de March de 2021
Oh, the beer! Barley, wheat… Pilsner, lager, ale… Blond, toasted, brown... Unfiltered, alcohol-free, gluten-free… A glass, a pint, a bottle… There are as many varieties of beers as there are types of consumers, but they all have one thing in common: beyond the looks, colour or flavour, its image alone is enough to change our mood.
In Spain, a person drinks 48.3 litres per year on average. It’s no wonder that, for brewing companies like Heineken, beer is seen as a symbol for the idea of disconnecting, the unequivocal sign that the time has arrived to let go of that which was urgent in order to centre on what’s more important. One beer, especially if taken in good company, is one of the most efficient ways of putting our priorities in order.
But, for some time now, those moments of disconnection that are so important to keep a mental and emotional balance, are becoming more and more fleeting. When it’s not a WhatsApp call or an email, it’s a Slack message or a Monday alert. Work chases us wherever we go.
Getting a moment to disconnect can be difficult. That is the great contraindication of working from home — a practice that, in most of the other aspects, seems to be working fine for both workers and companies. A great number of studies agree that working from home increases productivity as well as employee satisfaction. But in order to find and maintain that balance, it’s essential to guarantee the worker’s right to disconnect. The good news is that some companies are already on it.
It’s no wonder that one of the first companies to go down this path has been precisely one that produces moments of disconnection. Heineken has decided to preach by example, establishing a series of corporate measures designed to guarantee its employees’ right to separate work from personal life. They gave it its own hashtag: #asídesconectamostodos — which is Spanish for “so that we can all disconnect”.
Heineken, who has over 1.500 employees in Spain, has been making use of Smartworking for a while now. This is a work philosophy based on an agreement between the company and the employees that fosters more flexible ways of working, with a clear focus on goals and productivity more than on the time invested carrying out the work. In this way, it completely changes the paradigms that rule over the how, when and where one gets the work done. And it has managed to satisfy both the companies and the employees.
According to Pablo Flores, Head of Leadership, Talent & Rewards at Heineken, 93% of the company’s managers agree that working from home has increased their teams’ productivity, improving efficiency in 10 out of 11 parameters — especially with regards to the ability to concentrate, the efficiency of the meetings and the speed at which work is handed in. Also, it has increased engagement and employee retention levels and it’s a crucial element of the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) when it comes to attracting clients.
However, the study also shed light on some of the side effects that employees are starting to experience and that Heineken is already addressing.
1.- The Problem with Digital Disconnection
Working from home has greatly increased the use of certain technological tools and this is blurring the line that separates personal and professional life almost to the point where that line becomes non-existent. While this boundary is essential for the employees’ mental health and performance, it’s not easy to maintain a clear division during a crisis in which the amount of work has escalated. Instead of applying strong regulations, Heineken decided to work hard on recommendation, awareness and sensitivity on all the layers of the company, which resulted in the following initiatives:
2.- Commitment and Engagement Management
Working from home increases productivity by saving time during meetings and face-to-face conversations. But it also takes away the opportunity for workers to experience the day-to-day interactions in which personal matters are more commonly discussed and that humanise co-workers relationships as well as between managers and employees. These informal conversations are not strictly productive but they are crucial to strengthen the bond between workers and increase the commitment to the company’s culture — something that, in the long run, has a great impact on the company’s productivity. Heineken is addressing this matter in three different ways:
3.- “Mens sana in corpore sano”
Previously, in this same space, we had talked about the consequences that working from home has on the worker’s physical and emotional health. Heineken already had an internal medical team and a strong preventive medicine programme, but they have updated everything by introducing some new features like 24h psychological and psychiatric assistance, a video portal with physical exercise for all levels, a web that promotes healthy eating habits or the opportunity to request prescriptions to be delivered to the employees’ doorstep so that they don’t have to go to medical centres.
According to Pablo Flores, this effort is paying off. The work climate survey that took place in October 2020 showed the best results of the last 10 years, with an increase of more than 10 points on professional performance and 7 points on the feeling of belonging to the company.
This is it for the theory on Digital Disconnection. Now the hardest part: putting it into practice. Shall we start with a beer?