A good conversation is the driving force behind a strong collaboration. Transparent communication is what keeps things running smoothly through change and challenges. Sodexo and TOS know this like no other. They discuss their collaboration on a regular basis. How is TOS contributing to the service offered by Sodexo? And which expertise does TOS have in house that Sodexo needs most? In a round-table discussion, Sophie Broers from Sodexo and Marleen Stuurman and Marlena Holdermans from TOS share their views on this partnership.
The decor: a charming, historic and classic restaurant along the Maas. Those present three stylish, cheerful women. While they certainly also discuss business, there is plenty of room for personal questions and interests. The relaxed atmosphere and the friendly interaction is a sign of partnership and trust. Sophie: ‘The contact between TOS and Sodexo goes back quite some time’. We have been working together for about three years now. And it’s going well!’
In the beginning, Sophie was mostly in touch with Marleen concerning the needs of Sodexo. ‘The HR policy for Sodexo Offshore & Marine focuses on providing the best labour solutions for our clients, explains Sophie. ‘Marleen and I discussed the solutions that TOS could deliver to meet our needs for personnel. Marleen then spoke about this internally with Marlena because we are subject to international law and regulations.’ She continues with a wink: ‘And, eventually, I got a direct ‘hotline’ to Marlena for these matters’. Marlena chimes in: ‘Sodexo doesn’t have any standard situations.
Every new project is different. They need people for rigs, for example, but also for vessels that travel to all kinds of European waters. Then it is especially important to know under which flag they sail in order to find out which law and regulations apply. Every time again it is a challenging puzzle, Marleen adds: ‘Together, we look for the best solution that not only is legally sound, but that is competitive, too. This can lead to some differences of opinion internally. But we are very transparent with each other and towards the client. We understand the market and know the kinds of challenges Sodexo is up against. That is why we are always able to work things out. After all, we share the same goal: helping the client well and according to the rules. It is a real joint effort from Sophie, Marlena and me!’
Keeping things interesting
The biggest challenge for Sodexo, according to Sophie, is finding and retaining personnel: ‘We ask quite a lot of our people. You spend a lot of time away from home, working together with all these different nationalities. The group dynamics are very important. Especially because we want to deliver an outstanding service. Additionally, you have to be flexible, and able to change gears quickly.’ Finding people that match this profile is already quite a challenge, keeping them interested even more so. Certainly, now that the market is on the rise and they can ‘shop around’, TOS is experiencing the same. Marleen explains: ‘It goes without saying that we select candidates that are a good fit with our clients. But we also arrange for the right training and proper paperwork for our people. We invest a lot in training and certification, so it is a shame when people only stay in their role for a short time. We try to build a relationship through strong personal contact and training opportunities.’ Sodexo considers all people as their own employees, the training curriculum and development possibilities are also available for contingent workforce in order to stay the preferred employer and retain our employees.
Sodexo has 427,000 colleagues around the world, serving more than 100 million consumers per day with the objective to improve their Quality of Life. All Sodexo employees participate in an engagement survey once every two years. ‘We use the feedback to set up concrete action plans to continuously improve their Quality of Life at work’, adds Sophie.
Although all three women work primarily with men, none of them experience this as a bad thing. ‘It has never held me back in my work’, says Marlena. Sophie, on the other hand, is very aware that she is working in a predominantly male industry. ‘Within Sodexo, Diversity & Inclusion is an important commitment. For offshore when it comes to gender balance, there is a lot of ground still to cover. So, we focus more of our efforts in that area. After all, women are very welcome when it comes to improving group dynamics.’ It’s up to TOS to inspire women and support them in building a career in the maritime and offshore industry. ‘We recently deployed two women for an offshore project at Sodexo. But that could be many more’, tells Marleen. It’s often for positions in cleaning or catering, but Sodexo stimulates the development of these women so they have the opportunity to grow within the company. ‘For
example, one of our camp bosses is a woman managing the larger sites’, explains Sophie. ‘So, it’s possible!’ The three women are themselves testimony to this: building a great career in a man’s world. Perhaps that is also the reason behind their strong collaboration and personal click. ‘We are taking on more and more projects together’, admits Marleen. ‘We often have the same clients and can, therefore, work together more often’, Sophie explains further. Our collaboration is starting to look more and more like a steady partnership.’ She smiles: ‘A good development if you ask me!’
SODEXO: QUALITY OF LIFE
Sodexo is world leader in ‘Quality of Life Services’. With more than one hundred services, like catering, cleaning, maintenance and laundry, it contributes to the Quality of Life of the people it serves. Both close to home and far away, isolated destinations like those where the Offshore & Marine division operates. The people of Sodexo are the first point of contact and ensure that the offshore and maritime personnel are as comfortable as possible despite being so far from home. TOS contributes to this by recruiting and deploying good people for Sodexo.