A largely female company community
Providing jobs for 15 thousand people is an amazing achievement. A long growth process that has created a proudly female community (women make up 82% of the company’s population), distributed across Italy and Europe, which is now facing major challenges: to regenerate, think and work sustainably.
Camst maintains its headquarters in Bologna, but the Group has grown over time through acquisitions in Italy and abroad. Although the total number of employees was more or less stable during 2020, the parent company (which accounts for 78% of human resources) experienced job losses due to the lockdown.
Women represent no less than 82% of the company’s population; this proportion has always been very high, but in the past it has not been reflected amongst the organisation’s higher echelons. The top management therefore thought long and hard about this, and decided to introduce training programmes and awareness-raising to encourage equal opportunities and career development amongst its female staff. In particular, it cooperates with Work Wide Women, an organisation which supports businesses by providing diversity management solutions.
Permanent employment contracts continued to predominate during 2020, with a prevalence of part-time, typical not only of the catering and facility management sectors but also in companies with mainly female workforces.
In terms of cultural diversity, as of the end of 2020 Camst employed 8% foreign-born workers, 9% of them from non-EU countries. Finally, with regard to inclusion, the Group is committed to providing job opportunities for people with disabilities and the marginalised and disadvantaged members of society, in partnership with community associations and public sector bodies (first and foremost the Health Trusts and Municipalities). During 2020, 78 people with physical, mental or sensory disabilities or from situations of social marginalisation were welcomed on work experience programmes.
The impact of Covid on the organisation
In 2020 – during the pandemic emergency – the Camst company community proved it was also able to offer care within its own organisation, by supporting colleagues in difficulty. As a consequence of the slowdown or lockdown of most operations, in Italy income support was activated for more than 8,500 people. The company advanced income support (“Fis”) and government financed lay-off payments (“Cigd”) to employees so they were not left without funds until the central Inps authority was able to process their claims. Camst also introduced additional schemes to support its employees, to aid them in applying for mortgage moratoria and accessing food vouchers. Work was enabled to continue through the adoption of remote working and social distancing. The company rapidly established 530 remote working positions, accelerating a process already being considered prior to the health emergency. Once the most critical phase had been overcome, the human resources management decided to regulate and consolidate the use of remote working as a routine tool, to provide Camst staff with more flexibility and independence, and a better work-life balance.
Listening is all-important
Another form of support – during and after the most acute phase of the pandemic – was the Help Desk, established in April 2020 to listen to needs and offer practical support on a wide spectrum of issues: in-work income support, family allowances, leave, payslips, loans, the use of members’ loans as security for other borrowing, and financial support. By analysing the requests received, the company was able to pinpoint needs and develop new forms of financial support for the categories of workers hardest hit by the emergency.
Reciprocity is one of our resources
Camst has now been operating an income support scheme to provide welfare payments for workers from households in difficulties for several years. As well as this type of aid, which was also provided last year, in 2020 the Board established an ad hoc fund to support the employees hardest hit by the economic crisis triggered by the health emergency. The main recipients of this aid were workers employed in school canteens, exhibition centres and restaurants, who were depending on state income support for the longest times. Moreover, to aid families, 100 tablet computers for remote learning were donated to employees with children attending middle school; this was achieved through corporate match-giving, under which colleagues’ donations were augmented by the cooperative itself.
Our welfare knows how to evolve
In 2020 the “Accanto a te” [“At Your Side”] welfare programme, conceived and launched in 2019 to respond to workers’ real needs and improve wellbeing and motivation within the company, found itself dealing with the consequences of the health emergency.
In this new context, Camst was forced to revise its agenda and prioritise the most urgent needs (through the initiatives already mentioned, such as micro-credit or the donation of tablet computers for remote learning), without forgetting its initial ambitions. The new welfare plan, officially launched in April 2021, updates and reinforces the offering of services on the basis of the new needs, with a focus on health and prevention (which must not be neglected at times of economic hardship), people care and personalised assistance to aid access to company and public schemes.
Camst views skill development as a crucial factor.
Camst views skill development as a crucial factor. The company has a well-established online platform, the Camst Academy, where employees can access both the compulsory training required by current regulations and contents designed to improve their general skills. This opportunity to grow not only professionally but also as people and citizens proved crucial during the year of the pandemic.
Via the online platform, Camst staff can also access Impariamo, an innovative self-learning project for all employees, with inputs and suggestions for use in daily life. The chief educational programmes include the language courses, such as Speexx Essentials, a digital service tuned to the user’s interests and knowledge, not to mention the professional English course run for 90 staff members and managers, and the Italian course for foreign-born colleagues.
Camst also began the development of new initiatives in response to the pandemic crisis. These were launched at the end of 2020 and up and running during 2021. . They include: the internal job posting project to facilitate career progression amongst existing staff; the Training School to aid skill development in the catering area; coaching to consolidate skills in phases of career growth or to deal with rapidly changing contexts; and the managerial training plan for those with the potential for management and team leadership roles.
Safety is an asset for everyone
Camst has established an occupational health and safety management system which goes beyond legal requirements and conforms to the international ISO 45001 standard, both for the catering area – including the Group’s Italian companies and the Spanish subsidiaries – and for the facility management division (which currently holds OHSAS 18001 certification, with transition to ISO 45001 ongoing). Therefore, every worker or associate and anyone working at the Group’s various locations, meal production centres and construction sites in any way is required to contribute contribute to the maintenance of the quality and safety of their working environment, by complying strictly with the safety system in place and the relative company procedures.
Health and safety during the pandemic
To combat the pandemic, with effect from the end of February 2020 Camst established a special operating unit, under the direction of the top management, tasked with constantly monitoring the changing situation and providing specific operating instructions to the entire organisation, in order to protect the health of employees and customers. The measures adopted included the use of remote working where possible, the reshaping of production levels, and employee rotation on a shift system, with the creation of clearly defined independent teams.
Separate service regulations were also issued for the different types of facility, regularly updated in response to the evolution of the crisis and the consequent changes in the legal framework.
A contact tracing service was also created and all company communication channels were used to provide information to all employees, from emails to flyers affixed in workplaces on the management of communal spaces, the correct procedures for the use of PPE, hygiene rules, and regulations on access to locations for visitors, customers and suppliers.
The facility management division established and introduced new techniques for the mechanical sanitisation of locations, which were very much appreciated by customers, who were impressed with the speed and efficacy of the company’s response. This enabled the division to grow its business and strengthen its relationship with major customers, especially in the pharmaceutical and agro-food industry.