Creating a great workplace

May 12, 2020 | By Rupkatha B

Creating a great workplace has always been crucial; now even more, as people are anxious about the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on their health, wellbeing, jobs and financial security.

“Most organisations are doing what they can with what they know. The problem is this is an unprecedented crisis, and there is no reference point on what is right and what is not. But there is a lot of opportunities for organisations to do a lot for their people if they listen carefully. The key is to continually check on people to understand what they need during this time,” recommends Florencio Padilla, head of people experience, Chalhoub Group.

Also read: UAE retailers rank high as best workplaces

Creating a great workplace

Creating a great workplace

Are you doing enough for your people?

That’s the big question!

And whenever this question comes up at conferences, during board meetings, there is still an uncomfortable silence and stir. Most organisations understand the importance of people power and the need to do ‘enough’ to keep them happy and motivated. Remember – happy employees mean satisfied customers?

The good news is several organisations are going above and beyond in this regard. In the Great Place to Work 2020 list, several UAE retailers have scored high ranks as best workplaces. Among them is luxury retailer Chalhoub Group. Padilla explains what makes Chalhoub Group a great workplace.

“We look for a certain kind of mindset when we hire people. After all, that is the starting point,” he stresses. “And what makes the Chalhoub Group a great workplace are the business owners, who have a genuinely people-first mindset.”

“Our people are incredibly passionate, dedicated and genuinely care for the organisation. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, if the need arose, our people have voluntarily taken up work that they usually would not do or even give up annual leaves and salaries. We have several ‘People Experience’ volunteers from different functions within the business, who oversee employee engagement activities. During the crisis, these engagement activities have continued, but virtually. From webinars to happy hour sessions, we are trying to do everything to ensure engagement and positivity amidst an unprecedented situation. We also conduct Pulse surveys to find out how our employees are feeling and if they need any assistance. In fact, we have our employee app – similar to Facebook – through which our people can connect and engage with our senior leaders directly,” Padilla elaborates.

Supporting overall wellbeing

Chalhoub Group acknowledges the importance of mental well-being of its people, especially amidst the current crisis. In 2019, the group launched the HOPE well-being programme, focusing on emotional agility and resilience, work-life balance and overall health and well-being.

“Mental well-being is a key focus area for us. We have partnered with mental health and well-being clinics, to offer expert advice to our employees about managing stress and anxiety, especially during the current crisis. We have been organising weekly mental well-being webinars for our employees. We have also launched a 24/7 free mental health counselling hotline for our employees and their families,” Padilla shares.

Especially during a crisis of this nature, there is tremendous uncertainty. People are worried about their health and well-being as well as financial stability.

“Since we had people working in the warehouses and fulfilling orders even during the lockdown, we not only abided by government guidelines around sanitisation and temperature check but also provided them with a hygiene toolkit including hand sanitisers, gloves, face masks as well as vitamins. We closely monitored who they were interacting with during the time spent at the warehouse while creating shifts to avoided excess crowding. We also organised transportation for them,” says Padilla.

Transforming for a new normal

In a post-COVID world, reskilling talent has become more vital than ever before. Even more crucial has been digital transformation, which could be as simple as organising virtual meetings to as complex as setting up omnichannel presence. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, several organisations have had to adapt quickly to be able to sustain.

“Over time, we have transformed a lot of our learning and development initiatives, converting the classroom into virtual training. In the current scenario, this has proved immensely beneficial as we can accommodate more people and continue virtual skill development. We have a mobile learning app called Axonify – focusing on varied topics from e-commerce to digital transformation and change management to customer engagement. It was initially accessible only to our frontline employees, which is now made available to the back-office people too. We are trying to prepare them for not only now but what we are going to face in the future as the business landscape has certainly changed,” Padilla explains.

During the lockdown, businesses have also focused on staying engaged with customers. “We have been able to do so successfully through accelerating our e-commerce activity, our Muse loyalty programme and other initiatives undertaken by our brands,” concludes Padilla.


For all the latest retail news from Middle East, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page.



Previous Article Next Article


Union Coop, a consumer cooperative in the UAE, revealed that 78% of 

Continue Reading

August 24, 2021 | By Jibran Chouguley

Union Coop has opened its 23rd branch within the UAE in Jumeirah 

Continue Reading

August 2, 2021 | By Jibran Chouguley

Nando’s has revealed their revamped Sheikh Zayed Road outlet where newcomers and 

Continue Reading

July 8, 2021 | By Jibran Chouguley

UAE-based Al Maya Group announced that it will be boosting import of 

Continue Reading

June 24, 2021 | By RetailME Bureau

UAE-based grocery retail chain, Grandiose has opened its first hypermarket in Abu 

Continue Reading

June 2, 2021 | By RetailME Bureau

UAE-based Carrefour announced its theme and plans for Ramadan 2021. The brand 

Continue Reading

March 31, 2021 | By RetailME Bureau

Locally owned supermarket Spinneys celebrates 60 years of doing business in the 

Continue Reading

March 9, 2021 | By RetailME Bureau
Almarai, Carrefour, Emirates have the most loyal customers

UAE-based Carrefour will become the first retailer in the region to offer new levels 

Continue Reading

February 22, 2021 | By RetailME Bureau

The Organic Farmers’ Market is back in Bay Avenue for its 12th 

Continue Reading

February 17, 2021 | By RetailME Bureau

UAE-based  Lulu Group recently inaugurated its first-ever all-female staff store in Jeddah, 

Continue Reading

February 15, 2021 | By RetailME Bureau
Jones the grocer

Jones the Grocer, the gourmet grocer and cheese retailer launches the Jones 

Continue Reading

February 1, 2021 | By RetailME Bureau

UAE-based Al Maya Supermarkets is hosting a two-week food festival at select 

Continue Reading

January 17, 2021 | By Lawrence Pinto

Download Images RetailME Magazine