Sodexo: Creating a Global Listening Programme

Read on to find out how Sodexo were able to:
- Respond rapidly and with agility to the pandemic
- Make their people a priority at board level
- Listen to their staff of over 412,000 across 56 countries in 37 languages.

The Challenge

Sodexo, a global leader in business and corporate services, were looking for a partner to work with to help them create a listening culture. This was no mean feat for a company of their size (+412,000 employees) and scale (56 countries), encompassing multiple business operations from catering to employee benefits.

After running a traditional annual 58-question engagement survey for many years, they were facing some key challenges. It took +6 months just to compile employees’ feedback and analyse the data. Then the people team had to work with all global teams to create appropriate action plans, by which time the feedback was out-of-date.

The Solution

In September 2019, Sodexo chose to work with The Happiness Index to create a new approach to listening to their people.

They wanted to embrace the neuroscience-based methodology built into The Happiness Index’s platform. Their old 58-question annual survey was no longer fit for purpose and was replaced with a multilingual continuous listening programme. This new approach gave them real-time access to an understanding and analysis of how their people are thinking and feeling globally. As well as giving their people the ability to feedback on how they are feeling at any point in time, they could also deploy well targeted surveys at company and team level.

Buy-in from senior leadership was essential to the programme’s success. Leaders had to embrace the idea that the programme was a safe space for people to share and that their primary purpose was to listen and show empathy.

The Results

When the global pandemic hit in 2020, Sodexo needed an immediate way to connect with all their people and to understand how they were. By using The Happiness Index’s platform they could very quickly get this vital feedback and set up the support that their people needed.

Despite the disparate nature of their workforce, Sodexo has been able to build a programme that responds to their complexed needs together with The Happiness Index (THI). For example, because of the nature of their organisation, only 15% respond to the survey by email while 85% use a dedicated kiosk. The hard work and collaboration between THI and Sodexo has resulted in incredible response rates - 62% of their eligible staff responded with a completion rate of 97%. This is an increase from last year’s 58% response rate.

Thanks to the granular level of detail provided, Sodexo is able to create targeted action plans that enable Managers to drill into the data that is important to them. Our Freedom to be Human vision has given Sodexo the ability to provide ‘Freedom within a Framework’. This allows managers to do what they need to do based on their own data - without centralised constraints.

The Impact

Thanks to the introduction of our neuroscience-based methodology and the flexibility our service offers, employee feedback is now taken very seriously at Sodexo. Metrics are included as a KPI in the company’s reporting cycle alongside more traditional financial metrics.

Cathy Desquesses, Chief People Officer at Sodexo comments:

“At Sodexo we believe that treating our people like adults is fundamental to keeping them motivated, focused, and engaged. We are locally led as an organisation and empowering our managers to understand and drive their own action plans is better for us than a globally dictated one. Our journey with The Happiness Index has enabled us to change how we learn and manage our business. Giving our managers the power to safely listen and to get immediate insight has created a true bottom-up approach. Managers are no longer waiting for months to get insight but are accessing it on-demand and putting immediate action plans in place.”

Most recently in Q3 2022, Sodexo was able to report solid financial results, despite turbulent times. They reported €17.4 billion in consolidated revenues and €10.3 billion in market capitalisation. Sophie Bellon, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors and Interim Chief Executive Officer was pleased to announce results she called “solid” while still being able to make progress towards their non-financial goals.

Introducing Sodexo:

Founded in 1966 and still family owned and managed, Sodexo has grown to be the 17th largest private employer in the world by embracing strong purpose-led values. Sodexo provides end-to-end services to businesses and the public sector in 56 countries.







Favourable result platform screenshots