One planet, one health. Danone North America’s vision has never been more relevant. With the global spread of COVID-19, the entire world has been affected. It is critical that during this time, supply chains for essential goods such as food remain open and flowing. As a consumer-packaged goods company with approximately 6,000 employees across the United States and Canada, Danone is a leader in the industry.
“We're really proud to be a Certified B Corporation, which means we have joint societal and profit-driven motives. It is part of our DNA. We really strive to be a force for good in everything we do,” says Gavin Flynn, the Director of HR Technology and Efficiency at Danone North America.
Danone’s team has been working tirelessly to ensure not only that access to their products is uninterrupted, but also that their front-line workers are taken care of.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic hit us, we quickly identified and communicated a couple of key principles,” says Flynn. “Everyone was going to have a job, no-one was going to go without a paycheck, and we were going to reward our front-line heroes, who make up two-thirds of our workforce. A lot of us were taking our work home, but they couldn't. And they were doing a critical job to make sure that everyone in North America could eat.”
In order to ensure that Danone’s workforce could operate safely and efficiently, Flynn’s team identified four areas in which they needed to leverage Dayforce to track, manage, and support their people.
We’ve all heard about the front-line heroes in the news, and it has become strikingly clear that they should be appreciated for the role they are playing in keeping food on peoples’ tables during this pandemic. Danone wanted to ensure that the workers in its manufacturing facilities and warehouses, who are going above and beyond to keep the grocery store shelves stocked, were being rewarded.
On the afternoon of Friday, Mar. 20, Danone’s CHRO, Silvio Amorosino, came to Flynn and told him that CEO Mariano Lozano was planning to announce a 15% hourly pay premium to the front-line employees in an hour, which would be effective immediately. Payroll for the company is processed on Mondays, so Flynn and his team got straight to work finding a solution to automate this change through Dayforce.
“First and foremost, after freaking out for a few minutes, we rapidly assembled our action team,” says Flynn. “We used what we already had, and we built a shift differential at the pay policy level that awarded the 15% pay premium. We were able to get it done in a little under 12 hours. This is what I love about Dayforce, the flexibility of the system to really accommodate something like this.”
Flynn says that the key to being able to be responsive and deliver so quickly is to get creative and build on what is already in place. “Don’t reinvent the wheel. That’s what’s beautiful about Dayforce, there’s a lot of things that are built-in, intuitive, and configurable. With a software as a service HR provider, you can use what you already have.”
Also, Flynn pointed out that documenting and communicating a troubleshooting and support plan is essential, to allow front-line managers to have easy access to solutions. This allows them to focus on what is important – managing their people.
Another crucial aspect to keeping the food supply chain flowing is ensuring that if the workforce of a certain manufacturing plant becomes affected by COVID-19, Danone can track that and be proactive in shifting that production elsewhere.
“We needed to enable real-time on-demand absenteeism tracking to make production decisions if COVID-19 was impacting our ability to produce at any plant. This was key for us,” says Flynn. “Food supply chains are incredibly complex, so if we needed to move the production of a product from one plant to another, we would need the proper foresight and time to accomplish that. We need to be proactive versus reactive to a potential situation.”
Flynn’s team used the OData functionality in Dayforce to rapidly build a dashboard for his manufacturing leaders to leverage. “This allowed us to build an Excel template that taps directly into our Dayforce database and merge several reports together to build a complex dashboard that we can refresh at the click of a button,” says Flynn.
Previously, manufacturing leaders were only tracking absenteeism on a monthly basis. Now they are able to track it on an on-demand basis and can monitor for major changes or spikes that would indicate a need to reevaluate production capabilities.
“Dayforce has allowed us to get this really complex dashboard in the hands of our senior leadership in this really challenging time,” says Flynn.
As the spread of COVID-19 continued, the time away from work landscape started to shift as schools closed and people who were considered “high-risk” were advised to stay home as much as possible.
“In line with our B Corp values, we have a responsibility to our employees to do what's right by them, as well as the communities in which we do business,” says Flynn. “We’ve created safety net time-off programs to make sure that no one goes without a paycheck. That’s whether they're a high-risk employee, or they're caring for a family member who has special needs, or they need to be home to care for their children.”
By leveraging the time off and leave engines within Dayforce, Flynn’s team can track these new programs without affecting the current configuration.
“Time-off is incredibly complex for us because we're heavily unionized, with different union representation across our manufacturing network. With Dayforce, we were able to rapidly inject a new process into the system without breaking any of our existing processes,” says Flynn. “We actually ended up copying most of the jury duty code and repurposing it because it behaved how we wanted it to behave in this situation.”
Once the process was implemented in Dayforce, Flynn worked to communicate with managers about how to identify when this safety net time-off applies. “Once the employee has used all their vacation, they can then use these safety net codes to take care of their children or their own high-risk health situation,” says Flynn.
With the COVID-19 pandemic creating uncertainty for families around the world, employee wellness is, now more than ever, critical. “In many of our employee households, they may have become the sole breadwinner overnight,” says Flynn.
The company had begun its planning for the launch of Dayforce Wallet before the pandemic hit. Although Flynn’s team has had to shift their roll-out strategy, employee access to Dayforce Wallet has become even more important in light of the current situation.
“Employees are really excited about the launch of Dayforce Wallet because it comes at a great time,” says Flynn. “Being able to have access to funds they have earned, in real-time, might be the difference between being able to pay a critical bill or not.”
Flynn’s team initially had a roll-out plan that included travelling to manufacturing facilities and having high-touch engagement with employees to help them get started. This plan, however, rapidly shifted to account for physical distancing measures and travel restrictions. “No one ever thought we'd have to launch a new innovative product in the middle of a pandemic,” says Flynn. “As things changed and our plans shifted, Ceridian helped us to roll with the punches.”
Danone is in the final stages of testing with a group of HR and payroll administrators, as well as a group of 25 active users. Flynn’s plan is to launch Dayforce Wallet at the Fort Worth, Texas plant in early May. From there, Flynn’s team will work to identify which plants will be prioritised for implementation based on need, and ability to go-live with the current restrictions around travel and in-person engagement.
Flynn says that implementing Dayforce Wallet aligns with Danone’s values as a Certified B Corporation, and so it was an easy choice. “We need to find new, novel ways to support our employees, and Ceridian has always been a great partner in that.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, employees, companies, and entire industries will have to continue to adjust to the new world of work. Resilience on the part of front-line employees and acknowledging the importance of the role they play is something that will continue to be top-of-mind for companies moving forward.
“I think this pandemic doubled-down on how critical our front-line workforce is,” says Flynn. “We are in the safety of our homes right now, but there are over 3000 people at Danone who are still punching a time clock to make sure that, across North America, people are fed.”
Companies values will also be tested in the weeks and months to come. Of a recent Danone town hall, Flynn recalls, “Our CEO discussed how, in the face of challenge, a company’s true values come forward. Companies can put their values up on a slide, or on the wall of their building, but those values are tested in the face of adversity.”
With Danone’s joint societal and profit-driven motives, the company has been doing everything it can to support employees and communities through this difficult time. “We are still doing everything we can for our community partners at food banks and other organisations throughout the United States and Canada, to make sure that when we return to whatever the new normal looks like, we're still going to be a vibrant part of the community,” says Flynn.
Flynn emphasised how important it is to partner with companies with shared values. “I think our partnership with Ceridian has been phenomenal. And I think it also reinforces that when you choose a partner who is aligned to your values, it creates great synergies.”