9 November 2020 - Reading time: 7 Minutes
Care and hospitals go hand in hand, but this usually relates to patient care. At Az Damiaan in Ostend, they extend this care to employees with the same focus. Az Damiaan regularly appears in the press with original employer branding campaigns. Of course, just the image of a caring, creative employer with 'a twist' is not enough. Without a supportive and established HR policy, this reputation would be in danger. During the first wave of coronavirus, the hospital showed that they have a solid foundation in this area. Chief HR Officer, Dirk Van de Velde, explains.
"No matter how many years of experience you had when the coronavirus crisis hit for the first time, it was a challenge for everyone. How could we create extra capacity while reducing anxiety, stress and absenteeism as much as possible? Especially, in terms of uncertainty about the gravity of the situation. Nobody had the answer. The only way to tackle this was as a group by coming up with solutions together, without the benefit of scientific evidence as a guide.
As a hospital, we were required by the authorities to set up a crisis unit. This included a pneumologist, an emergency doctor and the head of the clinical lab, who then validated the proposals from the various working groups (Personnel, Hospital Hygiene, Escalation, De-escalation and Equipment).
Every day, we attempted to find solutions in the working groups. How and by what means can we protect everyone in the best possible manner? Which departments can close down to receive coronavirus patients and where should the existing patients be moved to? What competences do we need for this and where can we find this capacity? And so on.
The chairs of the working groups were also part of the crisis unit and discussed the proposals from the morning in the afternoon. The validated actions were presented in the afternoon. A hellish schedule, but we managed to stick to it because we all had the same goal in mind.
"It was a hellish schedule, but we managed to stick to it because we all had the same goal in mind." – Dirk Van de Velde, Chief HR Officer at Az Damiaan
Planning and care were the two pillars in our Personnel working group. It was essential for planning that we had a continuous view of our actual capacity. Again, we were not able to rely on experience as – unlike a week of recovery with 'normal' flu – it often takes much longer to return to work in a healthy state after contracting Covid-19. What's more, coronavirus patients require more care than other illnesses. Normally, the head nurses are responsible for planning but since they were needed for patient care at the time, it was managed centrally by the Personnel working group.
We called in outpatient nurses for extra help in the coronavirus unit. Their departments were virtually at a standstill due to fears of consultations or the lack of non-essential treatments. For example, as a buddy, they helped with putting on heavy protective clothing or transporting patients. In addition, we expanded our inflow with temps, students and candidates from the site reserves.
In consultation with managers, we called every absent employee to check whether the absenteeism was work-related. Due to fear – for themselves or their families – and because they were part of a risk group, they sometimes isolated themselves at home. By helping to support them efficiently and thoroughly thanks to our precautions, we were often able to reassure them and bring them back to the workplace.
"SD Worx helped us enormously with all these complex support measures, amendments in social security and labour law, individual questions from employees and the translation into our payroll. We would like to thank SD Worx for their work." – Dirk Van de Velde, Chief HR Officer at Az Damiaan
HR also paid particular attention to the care and well-being of our colleagues. We called each employee who had been tested personally to let them know the result. In case of bad news, we arranged their sickness certificates, which kept them from having a consultation. Together with the teams involved, we had a dialogue with the Hospital Hygiene working group during the Team care moments. After all, a positive test also causes enormous stress within the team.
In recognising Covid-19 as an occupational disease, with the coronavirus parental leave and the coronavirus unemployment of mainly blue-collar workers who were unable to work from home, we took over as much of the administration as possible from the employees involved. SD Worx helped us enormously with all these complex support measures, amendments in social security and labour law, individual questions from employees and the translation into our payroll. We would like to thank SD Worx for their work. This was done quickly and efficiently because they have, among other things, customised payroll software for our organisation and have been Az Damiaan's HR partner since 2006, so they know us inside out.
The Escape rooms allowed employees to unwind, have a drink, relax in comfy seats or consult a psychologist and external health and safety officer for psychosocial aspects at certain times. In addition, we ran webinars providing advice and tips on healthy eating, getting enough sleep or sufficient exercise, dealing with stress, and more. Finally, together with the City of Ostend, we provided daytime childcare during the Easter holidays.
The Digiflits internal newsletter, created for our doctors and employees, provided daily figures within Az Damiaan on the number of coronavirus patients, the closure or reopening of departments, and much more. Practical arrangements, such as the closure of the cafeteria or the installation of thermal cameras at reception, were also discussed.
Like many other organisations, we have also discovered MS Teams. This comes with real benefits, such as enabling staff to work from home or the opportunity to organise meetings with all key nurses without having to physically bring them all together in one room. This new way of working also had some disadvantages, as it reduced contact with colleagues. We also used MS Teams for external meetings. This meant that selection interviews continued to take place virtually, which was a tough task. If we do have to return to compulsory home working, we will also pay more attention to the disadvantages of teleworking.
"We've made it through the first wave thanks to everyone's efforts. Nevertheless, we still have a lot to learn." – Dirk Van de Velde, Chief HR Officer at Az Damiaan
Even though we've made it through the first wave thanks to everyone's efforts, we still have a lot to learn. Just before the summer, each working group organised a Lessons learned session. These workshops served to identify what went well and what could be done differently during the next wave. After all, there is always room for improvement. As a group, we can only learn and grow from this. This will make us stronger together.
American athletic giant Nike has a solid foothold in Belgium too, with five distribution centres in Ham, Laakdal and Meerhout. Together, they make up the Nike European Logistics Campus (ELC). From here, sporting goods depart around the clock, destined for wholesalers, Nike stores and online customers across Europe. This phenomenal logistics achievement relies heavily on flexibility. For that reason, personalisation, mobility and innovation are key elements of the HR policy.28 October 2020
As the adage goes, “the clever learn from their mistakes, but the truly wise learn from the mistakes of others”. With remote working here to stay in a post COVID-19 world, offering great experiences to remote workers is the key to high engagement, effortless collaboration and – in the end – higher performance. Familiarise yourself with the fails and learn how to win with remote working.20 August 2020
SD Worx is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Even in these challenging times in which the world is gripped by coronavirus, SD Worx does not want to let this occasion pass unnoticed.13 August 2020
The COVID-19 lockdown forced international companies to switch gears overnight: remote working was suddenly the norm. In most cases, the transition happened smoother than expected and significant benefits have now become apparent. Therefore, it’s likely that remote working is here to stay. Are you planning to offer regular remote working to your international workforce? Don’t forget that this implies a set of written and unwritten rules. Here’s a basic checklist.17 June 2020
Europe is home to millions of expanding businesses, which play an increasingly vital role in job creation, economic growth and innovative power. They have a lot to gain in the digital era – as long as their HR strategies keep pace with the dynamic needs of their employees. Explore three powerful HR trends that are poised to impact your international company, and learn how to tackle them.14 May 2020
Ramadan is from 24 April to 23 May 2020. Muslims all over the world fast for a month and there is no eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset. How do you, as an employer, take this into account in the workplace?6 May 2020
Whether a large multinational or a small business with fewer than 50 employees, investing in an HR and payroll offering can have a markedly positive impact on the business. In fact, small companies face many of the same challenges as larger organisations. From ensuring compliance to maintaining an efficient payroll procedure, there are a multitude of ways that small businesses can transform their HR and payroll operations. Here are four ways your business can benefit.30 April 2020
While governments around the world pull out all the stops to slow the spread of the coronavirus, businesses – both big and small – continue to look for the best way to emerge from the crisis with their heads held high. Obviously, HR departments play a key role in fulfilling this aspiration. How well is yours doing? Take the test and benefit from 4 rules of thumb first.16 April 2020
Human Resources has always played a vital role in organisations around the world. However, throughout the long history of HR, its place in the business has often been reduced to an admin function. Primarily focusing on people and employees, an HR professional’s role has a direct impact on people’s lives, but its effect is felt way beyond this.
With it’s integral place within employees’ lives as well as the overall business strategy, how can HR ensure it’s strategic role continues to add value to organisations for years to come?
Human Resources is a data driven industry. With so much company and employee information available, the challenge for many HR professionals is how to utilise it most effectively. No organisation can survive without data, and its importance within the overall business strategy only continues to grow as we enter a new decade.
So, how can HR departments embrace and interpret their data, and what should they be looking for when they analyse it?23 January 2020
From being healthier to digital detoxes, many of us adopt resolutions at the start of the new year. However, it’s not only personal resolutions that should be set in January each year - professional goals should not be overlooked either. Employees might focus on their work/life balance or wellbeing, or might embark on various training sessions to improve their skills.
There’s no doubt that the world of work has changed in the past decade. Organisations have been more focused on employee wellbeing and happiness than ever before, with some even considering the option of a four-day working week. Wellbeing was also a key topic at the CIPD’s annual conference in Manchester this year, which provided attendees with the opportunity to discuss and debate how to successfully manage mental health and wellbeing in international organisations.19 December 2019
Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has left many employees on both sides of the English Channel in limbo – uncertain about how long they will be able to live and work in the country they’ve come to call home.29 October 2019
The clock is still ticking on the UK’s exit from the European Union and we’re still in the dark about the terms of its departure or what impact Brexit will have on employment both in the UK and the 27 remaining EU member states. With or without a deal and faced with this level of uncertainty, HR and payroll teams need to stay up to date with their HR Brexit planning and be ready for all scenarios.11 October 2019
A recent SD Worx survey revealed that over half (57%) of European employees have the freedom to take a holiday when they choose. Although this can improve the work/life balance and autonomy of employees around Europe, it can leave departments a little stretched over the summer – a popular time to travel and enjoy the sun with friends and family. This can particularly affect the HR and payroll department – a business function that never stops.5 August 2019
It’s vital that global organizations are run as efficiently as possible. With potentially easy access to a broad and detailed selection of employee data, the HR and payroll department can ensure that the organization’s staff planning is accurately informed to better control staffing costs and improve efficiency across the business as a whole.
So, how can the HR and payroll professionals ensure that they are maximising the potential of the valuable data that lies at their fingertips?
The Christmas festive period might be over, but winter is certainly not. With snow thick and fast in some regions, it’s understandable that HR and payroll teams may want to pack up and hibernate for the next couple of months.21 January 2019
With the festivities over and the new year well underway, as we return to work, many may have already given up on their new year’s resolutions for 2019. However, when it comes to new year resolutions in the HR and payroll industry, there are many resolutions that HR and payroll teams should commit to which will ensure that their payroll is powerful and running efficiently throughout the year.10 January 2019
Much of today’s media coverage on the introduction of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in the workplace express concern over the future of the human employee. Many fear their roles will be replaced by an intelligent robot that is more efficient and cheaper to employ. However, this is far from the case. SD Worx advocates the future of HR tech, but we also understand that you can never take the ‘Human’ out of Human Resources! In fact, introducing these technologies to the HR and payroll department can only reaffirm the place of the human employee in the business world.30 December 2018
The HR and payroll industry never stands still and is moving at a faster pace than ever. With frequent updates to legislation, increasingly global operations and swiftly developing new technologies, the future of HR is set to look completely different to the industry of today.28 November 2018
Every company strives to have effective working practices that allow employees to work together to get the best possible outcome. Many employers choose to organise Christmas team building activities to help boost workplace morale, increase productivity and collaboration between departments.But does team building actually work? 21 November 2018
Business Studies 101 tells us staff are the most valuable and expensive resource within any company, but how can your business create an empowering atmosphere within which employees flourish and morale is high?6 November 2018
Business leaders are always searching for dynamic new ways to improve their business strategy, but there's one source of data which still remains largely untapped. There is a wealth of potential strategy ideas to be found in a place businesses already have unrestricted access to - their payroll system.
So, how can both large and small companies start utilising payroll data today to breathe new life into stale strategies?24 October 2018
Nothing turns your working world on its head quite as much as a big, sudden change in the way you need to work or the way in which the company you're working for is run. Whether it's due to changes in law, different leadership or any other reason, keeping up with big changes can seem like a difficult task, and it's easy to get off track. But when it comes to adapting to those sudden changes and continuing to meet the needs of your business, there are a few things you can do to help you adapt quickly and be back to 100% in no time:15 October 2018
In the digital world, ensuring that you have a healthy work/life balance has never been so important. However, in this ‘always-on’ environment, it can prove difficult to step away from the world of work and to take that all-important break from your seemingly never-ending to do list. Some HR and payroll professionals see the introduction of HR tech as another cause of stress, with many fearing that it will threaten the future of the industry. However, the introduction of automation and other technologies could be the answer to empowering the HR professional and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.12 October 2018
It sounds too simplistic to say that your workforce is the beating heart of your company, but it’s true. However, many businesses don’t practice strategic human resource (HR) planning. So why is staff planning so important?8 October 2018