Nowadays does it make sense to run a business without placing people at the centre of everything we do? “Not if the company has the ambition to grow”. There are no doubts in the mind of Matilde Marandola, national representative of the social responsibility department at AIDP, the Italian association for people management, a network of some 19,000 members, over 3,00 active members and 16 regional groups. “And to be successful, welfare programmes have to shift from corporate to ‘generative’, moving away from the simple mission of making profit.”
How did you form this belief?
I graduated in Law and then I decided to enrol for a Master’s in the HR sector. It only took a few days for me to realise that this was my calling. I started my career in a consulting firm where I stayed for the next 20 years or so, taking on roles of greater responsibility. The AIDP has been and will continue to be an integral part of my career and passion. In 2014, I was appointed president of the regional group for Campania and I decided to put my plans to be an entrepreneur into action. I am a Professional Certified Coach for the International Coaching Federation, and I lecture on training and soft skills at the Suor Orsola Benincasa University in Naples. This is my second term at AIDP Campania and since 2018, I’ve also been leading the Social Responsibility department. The goal of this department is to collect best practices like programmes, projects and ideas, so that we can create greater awareness around Social Responsibility topics. Nowadays, it is essential for every company to focus on its people. But a major shift is needed: corporate welfare programmes alone are no longer enough. Companies have to introduce ethical processes of ‘generative welfare’.
So, a shift from corporate welfare programmes to ‘generative welfare’. How can that shift be achieved?
The goal of ‘generative welfare’ is to move away from the simple vision of financial performance and focus on people, on re-generating their skills and creating a sense of responsibility as part of a community, to boost well-being and individual performance. The idea behind it is to create happiness within the company. It is crucial for organisations where people feel increasingly demotivated and tend to just ‘keep going’, to set up processes and programmes to create a more serene environment where people feel they are cared for as individuals rather than as a group. The organisation is concerned about each one of them, rather than all of them together. This means receiving but giving as well, rights and duties blend together. If someone has helped me, then it is my turn to help someone too, so that everyone in the company contributes to the wellbeing of the group.
What does being a responsible company mean today?
Responsibility is to do with values, ethics, the mission and vision of every organisation. Social Responsibility moves along currents that draw in all stakeholders, whether they are direct or indirect.
Why is it important to create personalised welfare programmes for employees?
The basic concepts of welfare are founded on listening and empathy. Standardising welfare programmes won’t work and the same is true for any system within human resources. Systems should be personalised as part of an approach based on listening and understanding a person’s specific and unique needs.
It is vitally important that every person who works with us feels that we are focusing our attention on each single one.
Do employees feel a sense of responsibility thanks to these programmes to increase the impact of social initiatives for the benefit of the whole community?
Listening is paramount. One company set up a scheme to bank hours, which allowed employees to do voluntary work instead of making up the hours they took off. There are many advantages to this type of project: working as a team increases engagement, and then there is also the impact on the local community and the relationships that are formed with individuals, authorities and institutions. This combination generates a level of energy that is fundamental.