No one can dispute the phenomenal pace and scale of change in China over the last 30 years. The country’s ongoing social and economic transformation has led to new aspirations for the Chinese population, and the emergence of wellbeing and lifestyle make up an important part of this new landscape. Along with inevitable new challenges, this transformation has also brought opportunities, like the chance for Sodexo to position itself in China as a leader in the Quality of Life Services market.
The Great Call of China
Since its arrival in China in 1995, Sodexo has grown with its clients, providing comprehensive Business Support, Engineering, Food and Wellness Services across various sectors from Corporate, Education, and Healthcare, to Remote Sites as well as Sports and Leisure. Whether ensuring building operations and maintenance or managing meeting rooms, Sodexo’s services in China enhance business productivity and quality of life of employees.
How stress-management classes help Nokia China retain staff
Quality of Life Services have a promising future in China adds Andrew Dawson, China Facility Services Director. “China’s growing middle class, combined with an approaching labor shortage means that Sodexo’s services represent a very relevant value proposition for clients.” Sodexo’s wellness and lifestyle services include coaches to help staff lose weight, reduce stress or stop-smoking as well as providing yoga, Pilates or stress-management classes. “These lifestyle services help companies attract and retain the best talent on the market.”
Nokia’s China Campus in Beijing includes research and development, mobile manufacturing and logistics divisions. But after moving from the city center to an industrial park on the outskirts, staff retention had become a serious issue - one that they turned to Sodexo to address. The Group responded with a tailored and comprehensive service solution that combined a gym, beauty and hair salon, convenience stores and lifestyle seminars to enhance the quality of Nokia employees’ daily life. Today, the partnership between Sodexo and Nokia China has reached a new level; in addition to Business Support, Food and Lifestyle Services, Sodexo also delivers Technical and Engineering Services to the Campus.
Benefits & Rewards Services take flight at COMAC
Sodexo has also made inroads with boosting the attractiveness of companies to their staff. “As state-owned companies face increasing competition in the labor market, Sodexo’s capacity to provide them with concrete benefits and rewards for employees make us a good strategic choice,” explains Frank Zhouli, General Director, Benefits & Rewards Services. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or COMAC, has been enthusiastic about adding Benefits and Rewards in the form of meal passes to the Quality of Life Services that Sodexo already provides. “While there are currently around 8,000 beneficiaries across COMAC sites, the target for 2015 is 40,000, which shows the potential demand for the type of Quality of Life Services that Sodexo delivers.”
Reinforcing the strength of State-Owned Enterprises
Sodexo has been able to provide crucial support to State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) as they seek to restructure their core business and increase their competitivity. Sodexo’s comprehensive services contract with state giant Baosteel is one good example of Sodexo’s potential to be a valuable partner to clients. By taking up management of services, such as staff catering, Sodexo enabled the steel manufacturer to focus more on its core business. Since its start in 2004, the contract has expanded to include facilities management - everything from building and equipment operations and maintenance - to landscaping and other support services. Currently, Sodexo is the number one provider of Quality of Life Services to Chinese SOEs like Baosteel, with the sector accounting for 25% of Sodexo’s business in the country.
Mentor & Mentee program fosters development of female employees
Sodexo’s policy to help develop local communities and people is embodied by several training programs. One such is M&M, the Mentor and Mentee program that encourages female employees’ development, boosting gender diversity at an operational management level. Ten senior leaders act as mentors to 10 female mentees, chosen for their strong performance and desire to grow in the company. Each pair defines targets for the mentee over a period of time, working together closely to track progress. The program is an opportunity for both partners: mentees get personal support from senior leaders in daily problem solving and career development. And the mentors get a chance to see beyond their own working scope, and better embrace the company culture.
While China’s incredible size and population represents huge opportunity for foreign business, its relatively recent economic development means that some of its challenges still need to be managed. A shifting regulatory environment, 160 million migrant workers in need of training, and fierce competition for staff already highly trained are just some challenges that companies doing business in China need to grapple with. Luckily, Sodexo has a head start. Continuing community and employee development, a reputation for business integrity and competitive Quality of Life Services give Sodexo every chance to play a significant role in the future of China’s development.