Communication tools: reasons to share

Aconnect is an internet portal subject to ongoing updating, developed by an international team composed of employees belonging to different Group units. The project was designed on an open source platform, which permitted access to applications designed by a large team of developers, while increasing specific skills within the company: a flexible tool enabling the company to control its use from within, make publication activities more effective and facilitate sharing.

Aconnect represents an essential link in the integration process of new activity sectors active in different countries and working scenarios. It reduces the distance between colleagues operating in the two businesses, between functions, headquarters and the network and it enables the sharing of best practices, the exchange of opinions and values.

A connectTo keep attention focused on sustainability issues, the portal also includes a section dedicated to “Afuture” and the monthly Go Green: a column designed to disseminate best practices for the responsible use of paper, water and energy. Simple concrete actions that any employee may apply, marking an additional effort to spread the Autogrill Sustainability Roadmap.

In 2011 the activity for the development of web 2.0- based professional communities was continued and the first pilot paths for knowledge sharing were tested (European Works Council, Group Marketing, Engineering&Procurement, Human Resources, CSR). The parallel commitment to infrastructures also enabled access to the portal and its services from non-corporate web and PCs (home PCs, hotels, etc.). Aconnect is not only a platform used for employee communication and training: it represents the Group’s strategic project leading to the conversion and integration of traditional services and systems into web- based solutions that can contribute to making Autogrill’s business grow. The portal also offers access to new generations through the provision of modern working solutions closer to what is offered by web- based platforms, which we are now used to using in our daily life, in terms of ergonomics, interaction criteria and processes.

In 2011, the usability and portal interface project was launched. The objective of the work performed by an international team was to make the tool as simple and user-friendly as possible. In addition to web 2.0- based paths, more traditional communication models are also used, including periodic newsletters, another supplementary tool to involve employees and, in some cases, customers. In fact, these are subject to integration processes with Aconnect, thus reducing the consumption of paper.


The figures of the Aconnect portal
Over 14.000 employees access Aconnect (ATG Italy, ATG Spain and World Duty Free Group)
Over 50 active communities, with 720 users
5.700 additional users expected in 2012 (ATG France, ATG Belgium and ATG Switzerland)

An important example of leaner and more effective corporate communication is that of Autogrill Spain, which developed the profile of Internal Communication Ambassador in the stores. Over eighty employees operate in stores scattered throughout Spain, with superior skills in communications and the use of new technology. They represent a precious contribution, ensuring that information and instructions circulated from the central offices are properly received. They stimulate the participation of all the employees, provide additional opportunities for professional development and, last but not least, ensure a two-way communication, thus facilitating the dialogue between stores and the headquarters. Also in Spain, in 2011, a new initiative was launched, which has so far involved only the employees at headquarters, but is expected to be extended to the entire sales network. The Imagination Desk was established to promote a stimulating working environment and improve performance and engagement. The Imagination Desk is composed of a team of volunteers from different departments — Marketing, Finance and ICT — in collaboration with Human Resources. The team submits proposals to the executive committee regarding initiatives that, when approved, are implemented by the same.

The issues on which the team concentrates are:

  • voluntary collaboration of employees with Non-Governmental Organizations (collection of food, purchase of products for children with AIDS, etc.);
  • new look for employee break areas;
  • group birthday parties in break areas for people born in a given month;
  • search for discounts for employees and their families.

In Belgium the AVillage platform was developed, with two key functions: to circulate documents useful for the development and operating organization of the business and to disseminate news to employees in the sales network.

Every store was equipped with touch screens from which every employee can access through a personal password, so as to allow the people in charge of training to monitor employee personal training paths. All employees may also add comments and give suggestions on every page of the system. This feedback system is important to provide ongoing control over quality and pursue ongoing improvement of the system through a bottom-up approach.

A forum is also available on AVillage, where people can post problems that they have at work and receive a suggested solution from a colleague who has been in the same situation. An excellent tool to promote the sharing of knowledge among employees.


A common platform to manage employee personal data
In order to identify the priority areas for improvement and the most suitable actions to undertake in relation to people, it is necessary to rely on personal and organizational details that can be easily accessed and analyzed. Autogrill Group started the Global HR Platform project (GHRP) in 2009, a global cross-sectional platform for the management of employee personal data. In 2010 the data of the employees of Autogrill S.p.A., the subsidiaries Nuova Sidap and WDF were entered in the system, while in 2011 the system was updated also with the data of the people of Aldeasa Spain and Autogrill Spain. Thanks to the definition of shared

semantics, the Global HR Platform enables HR functions to promptly obtain homogeneous and comparable information about the Group’s people (i.e. gender, age, type of contract, level, professional family and sub-family, education,…) with different levels of information accessibility.

The GHRP system allows us to:

  • rely on a common master databasic, to be used to develop systems that support processes such as online training, internal job posting, international/interfunctional mobility, 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;
  • 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.