Congratulations Olivier, Compass Group Belgium has won the Top Employer award for the fifth year in a row!

Thank you very much!

What is the importance of such an award for the company?

You should not underestimate it, and there are various reasons for this. Before I go into detail, let me give you a little history. In 2015, the Top Employer certification first caught our eye, and in 2017 we participated for the first time.

How did that turn out then?

Well, to be honest, it was quite a sobering experience (laughs). The result was not at all what we had hoped for, and unfortunately we did not pass the certification. However, we did not throw in the towel and took this as a strong motivation to do better in the future. We immediately started an open discussion with Top Employer, to find out which elements were still missing in our company. It turned out that we, as a company, did undertake a lot of actions, but that there was not enough structure in it. So there was a need for a clear plan.

The following year, we looked at how we could describe and frame our actions more clearly. We also brainstormed about how we wanted to communicate about this strategy in the future, both internally for our employees and externally.

And with success, because in 2018 we were able to win the Top Employer Award for the first time, which was quite an honour!

There is actually a big misunderstanding about this certification. Actually, this award does not concretely mean that the company is a Top Employer who recruits a lot of people, but it mainly shows that the HR department involved works according to certain rules and minimums which are necessary nowadays and that they can also continue to guarantee these to the employees. This shows that there is a certain HR-policy and that this policy is respected. The Top Employer certification is therefore a signal that the way we work is a sound business.

When it comes to pure catering, we are in fact the only company to receive this certification. This is an important signal for recruitment and certainly increases our attractiveness to potential employees. As far as I'm concerned, we can make a bigger splash with this in the future.

Can you give a few examples?

We have a nice on-boarding platform that is fully operational. We are also committed to continuing to train our employees through an online training platform. And soon we will also be working with Actimo and Strobo, an innovative communication tool and a planning tool. These tools will allow us to reach all our employees at the same time, which is a real challenge in a large decentralized company like ours.

So the Top Employer Award instills a certain pride in the HR department. I also think that it makes colleagues from other departments proud to work for Compass Group Belgium and makes us an attractive employer.

Nowadays, it is a difficult task to recruit in the hospitality sector.  The battle for talent has totally flared up, and this industry traditionally remains a difficult one, because it is of course fun to work in on the one hand, but on the other hand it also has challenging working conditions compared to other sectors.

How does Top Employer proceed with its analysis of potential candidates?

They always start with a questionnaire of 400 questions in 7 subjects. This is an analysis document that needs to be filled out by HR. In addition, a check-up moment takes place. They used to visit us on site, but nowadays this is done online due to the corona crisis. If, for example, we introduce a diversity strategy, they don't just ask us to send them examples, but we have to explain how this policy has been developed and whether senior management is aware of it. So we have to provide consistent evidence. At the moment, we are working on this in a team of four people. Debora Vandenbroucke, for example, helps with the talent acquisition, while Cécile De Vleesschouwer mainly assists with learning & development.  Iliass Khatmi in turn ensures that the project is kept alive, and I myself was mainly the inspirer of striving for such a Top Employer certification in 2017.

Is it wrong to think that the pursuit of such a certification is something that you at HR spend a whole year doing as well?

Certainly not. By default, companies are given time from early to mid-April to complete that questionnaire. That questionnaire changes every year, and for us, that is a good learning experience to see what is actually important within HR and what we can work on next time.

I assume that next year you will want to enjoy receiving this award for the sixth time in a row. What would you still like to achieve next year with the HR department of Compass Group Belgium and how can our company still grow in this area?

At the moment, Compass Group Belgium has a good score according to the criteria of Top Employer. At the start of our ambitions, we started from the lower middle ranks, but now we want to climb as quickly as possible. Furthermore, we want to keep reinventing ourselves, and respond to new trends and changing accents. The nice thing is that Top Employer itself organizes networking moments where we can enter into a dialogue with other companies certified by them, to get inspiration on how they solve problems. Merely 'copy-pasting' strategies does not make much sense, but sometimes it can lead to new ideas on which we can base ourselves.

Olivier, if you had to summarize in one sentence why someone should come and work for Compass Group Belgium, what would you say?

Oh dear, I am less prepared for this question (laughs). In one sentence, that is difficult... What I can say is that working in the food service industry is an incredibly sexy, cool business. Compass Group is also one of the largest employers in the sector. The Top Employer certification proves that we also set the bar high for our personnel policy and the way we treat our staff. It is actually quite simple: there is no reason NOT to come and work for us.

Thank you for the interview, Olivier.

Olivier: You're welcome!


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