Vodafone CHRO Ronald Schellekens on discovering a more emotional workplace

by Matt Bochenski

Vodafone connects millions of customers around the world. But when the world’s fourth largest mobile operator wanted to connect 130,000 of its own employees, it turned to Workplace. Group CHRO Ronald Schellekens explains why.

Ask Ronald Schellekens what he does for a living and he’ll give you a deceptively simple answer. “I’m the HR guy,” he says. Like it’s no big deal that he’s responsible for connecting over 100,000 employees inside Vodafone.

Maybe it isn’t a big deal. After all, connecting people is what Vodafone does. But that’s customers. Connecting employees is a whole different ball game. And that’s where Workplace comes in.

“A little while back the CEO of Vodafone challenged the HR function. He asked us, ‘How do you deliver a fantastic employee experience through a digital lens?’ Employees don’t experience the company through a physical lens, through offices alone. They look at it through a digital lens as well, through tools and technology. So we needed to digitize that experience.”

“Workplace makes a large company look very small because you can suddenly connect with likeminded people across the world. That’s cool.”

- Ronald Schellekens, CHRO, Vodafone Group

Ronald did what all good pioneers have been doing for centuries: he headed west. To the “new world” of California. And while they might not have struck gold, they did discover the digital equivalent.

“We visited Facebook,” says Ronald, “and they showed us Workplace. A lot of the CEOs who were with us were very enthusiastic. It came back to HR to say, ‘Okay, let’s push this – and let’s push this at speed.’”

While Vodafone has “a long way to go” on its Workplace journey, Ronald is clear about the effects so far. “It’s a much more connected, much more emotional world now,” he says. “It makes a large company look very small because you can suddenly connect with likeminded people across the world. That’s cool.”

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