We kicked off last year thinking how we could change fast for the fast times we live in. But nothing could have prepared us for the speed of change brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The agility and adaptability shown by our people to navigate those first hectic weeks and months will stay in my mind for a long time, and it proved once again that each new challenge brings new learnings.

People development has been a consistent theme for us at Coca-Cola HBC for many years because we know that nothing is more important for our growth than our people; and nothing is more important for our people than their personal growth. In that light, the challenges of 2020 acted as an accelerator in our efforts to ensure this remains a key pillar of our growth strategy.

2020 saw us speed up the shift of our learning to digital, with further investments in experience learning platforms. With innovative technological solutions, we were able to inspire and help our people to grow by training more people, from more locations and reaching more and different employees with our leadership programmes.

Mentorship was already a key to this approach and is the most popular development initiative in our company. Last year, we moved to an automated platform that connects mentors and mentees across our territories, making mentoring available to everyone. With over 200 people submitting their profiles in 2020, our global mentor pool has reached 700. We did the same thing with coaching, introducing an online tool which connects coaches to those seeking support. Moreover, we designed and deployed a virtual ICC Coaching Certification programme, which saw 90 leaders successfully pass and become CCHBC Coaches, ready to support other colleagues.

With skills being the new currency for success and having in mind the power of collaboration, we introduced a virtual Talent Marketplace. This enables our people to post or join short-term projects across the group, acquiring new skills or offering their knowledge and expertise to support others. It also offers visibility to all available internal career opportunities. In just 6 months it was used by over 1,000 colleagues. In addition, we’ve piloted many other technologies, including making friends with Artificial Intelligence via the introduction of an HR Chatbot as a first port of call for questions on multiple topics, including development.

Over the past year, 25,000 of our colleagues engaged in learning activities about leadership and personal effectiveness, as well as functional skills, resulting in over 410,000 hours of learning, including a 10-dayVirtual Learning Fest which was attended by over 5,000 people.

With learning enshrined on our culture, we have used technology as a key enabler for fostering social learning and enabling our employees to connect on an informal, personal level. For example, our people can watch real stories from colleagues and also share their own stories via our HBC Channel.

"With innovative technological solutions, we were able to inspire and help our people to grow by training more people, from more locations and reaching more and different employees with our leadership programmes" 

We have also been using technology to ensure enhanced employee experience in remote working, while maintaining focus on our people’s well-being, health and safety. Our technology team had to adapt fast in the new reality and enabled home-office workplaces with no disruptions to the operations in our plants and warehouses. Remote connectivity moved from 6,000 daily connections on average to 12,000. At the same time, we promptly upgraded Microsoft Teams with new features and capabilities moving from 270,000 to 550,000 interactions per day. Pre-COVID investments, upgrades, more laptops, improvements to systems capabilities as well as the willingness of our people to adapt allowed us to continue working safely, while mitigating the increasing risks of cyber-security threats.

In line with our digital transformation strategy, we continue to invest in improving the digital experience for our people. For example, we recently introduced a “bring your own device” policy that enables all employees to connect to our network and applications from their personal mobile devices if they wish, making information important to day-to-day work more accessible as well as providing flexibility for learning activities and a better work life balance.

Technology is also expanding our efforts to identify new talent, while improving the convenience and validity of our assessment methods. For instance, we’ve been using digital assessment platforms and gamified assessments since 2018, which has resulted in us getting great profiles and managing future talent effectively. We have been using video interviewing for more than 2 years now to improve the candidate experience by ensuring interviews can take place in their own time, anywhere and on any device. In additional, we’re looking at AI Assisted Sourcing and Screening to help our recruiters to identify and screen external talents faster.

No matter the technology, people remain essential to our success. I’m particularly proud that we received 77 awards recognizing Coca-Cola HBC as the best place to work last year, a clear indicator that our approach is working. For us, investments in people and technology go hand in hand, and we are looking to maintain the momentum that we have seen over the past twelve months so we can continue to emerge stronger, smarter and better.