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Back to Basics

Back to Basics

As one of the top ten largest publicly quoted employers on the planet, Danish-based global facility services provider, ISS World Services, is no stranger to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) issues. With over 510,000 employees worldwide providing services such as catering, cleaning and security to a wide range of sectors, ISS is keenly aware of how CSR policies can impact the reputation of its customers, as Joseph Nazareth Head of Health, Safety & Environment and Corporate Responsibility at ISS World Services explains.

“Our clients include multi-national companies and an important part of our value proposition to them is to protect their brand and reputation. If ISS employees are not paid on time or they have health and safety issues, our customer’s brand and reputation can be at stake as our employees are on their premises. We understand this and so we have strong policies and systems in place to ensure credible and effective risk management in these areas,” says Nazareth.

He explains that it is important that a global company such as ISS leads the way with CSR policies. This means having processes in place that are principles based and guarantee that all employees enjoy basic human rights such as health and safety, being paid on time, as well as wage slips that are transparent, no matter where they are in the world. For Nazareth, it also makes business sense to develop and implement policies that value employees. He believes that there is a correlation between appreciating employees and good service that is hard to ignore. And if clients are satisfied with good service delivered, then they are much more likely to retain ISS’s services.

“Client satisfaction is a key indicator for our business. The more we engage with our employees the happier they are. If they are engaged, they perform better. It’s a simple equation, but highly dependent on us having a robust CSR strategy.”

At a deeper level, Nazareth is keen to leverage its award-winning CSR strategy in order to achieve its vision to become the world’s foremost service provider. The first step of which is to ensure that policies are aligned globally as much as possible, so that employees in all countries work towards and share the same vision of ISS values and policies.

The second step, Nazareth admits, is a more complex challenge as it involves projecting those values to make sure that each and every employee is not only aware of them, but incorporates them into their daily working lives. Nazareth calls this approach ‘the power of the human touch’.

“Whether they are working in a resort in Asia or a hotel in Europe, it’s about employees being proud to work for ISS and understanding they are a critical part of achieving our vision. It’s about giving them the tools to take the initiative, whether it’s a receptionist getting to know the names of customers or a technician helping someone when it’s not specifically their job. It’s about aspiring to provide the best service they possibly can. This is what we mean by the power of the human touch,” explains Nazareth.

With such a large-scale global company, where many employees may not even speak English and educational levels are generally low, it’s a vision that presents obvious challenges. But they are challenges that Nazareth has already faced in a similar role at Maersk Group. For him, it’s a question of going back to basics.

“For business leaders it’s all too easy to get caught up in focusing on performance and profit. But it’s crucial not to lose touch with staff as these are the people who ultimately deliver our services and drive performance; so talk to them and find out what their day-to-day challenges are.”

As a company, ISS offers the opportunity for management to spend time within an operations role to understand the challenges employees face. It’s this back to basics approach that Nazareth feels is invaluable in helping formulate a CSR strategy that all stakeholders can have confidence in.

“If leaders have a clear idea of the challenges employees face on a daily basis, it is much easier to formulate policies that work, rather than CSR statements that look good but carry little substance. Our aim is to make sure our values touch each and every employee. By making the effort to understand them, I believe we can achieve our vision,” concludes Nazareth.

Joseph Nazareth. Head of Health, Safety & Environment and Corporate Responsibility. ISS World Services.

Further reading on the topic: The Value of Extra-Financial Reporting

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