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Building a deliberate company culture in a large international company: the benefits of a people-first approach

December 01 - 2020

Hafnia believes that a strong company culture reduces bureaucracy and provides employees with more precise guidelines for how to act when faced with challenges in- and outside of work. As Head of People, Culture and Strategy, Mia Krogslund Jørgensen works hard to make sure that Hafnia’s company culture is embraced and fostered by all staff members. Whether it is launching new initiatives, training and encouraging managers to reach out to their employees, Mia and her team are convinced that the people-first approach that Hafnia has implemented is the way forward for the company and the industry at-large.

Freedom with responsibility
Having a strong people-first culture means giving employees flexibility and freedom. Freedom, however, is often mistaken for having no responsibility, but that assumption could not be further from the truth. Freedom with responsibility is the ability for employees to manage their own time, while still expecting that they get the job done on time and on target. Having the flexibility to work from home is imperative, not only because it often increases the well-being and performance of the teams, but also because it allows for a more diverse workforce. The ability to set one’s schedule and working style, and make decisions for which one is accountable has been a helpful means of improving performance within the company, not least during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communication and the impact of COVID-19
The transition into working from home was rather smooth, and what stood out as a critical success factor was the efficacy of communication between colleagues. Better, more transparent and more assertive communication meant that employees were able to continue their work offsite with fewer interruptions. Hafnia however acknowledged that working from home five days a week was not ideal for everyone. Managers were therefore required to consistently check in on the well-being of their employees to make sure that mental health was prioritised.

There are many ways to put people first
Prioritising employees’ well-being is not the only way that Hafnia puts people first. The People, Culture and Strategy team have recently launched several new initiatives to bring people closer to each other and the broader industry. One such initiative is the Employee Assistance Program which aims is to help employees who have work- or family-related issues. Hafnia is also committed to more diversity within the shipping industry and has thus signed the Charter for more women in shipping and launched an innovation program called “Women in Maritime Lab” with Shell and BW Group. Diversity initiatives have also proven key when recruiting new talent and providing employees with role models at all levels of the organisation.

But it’s not as easy as it seems
A people-first approach might seem like a very straightforward strategy, but it is much easier said than done. For Hafnia, putting people first means having the courage and trust to give employees the freedom to perform their tasks in their preferred way. It means listening to the employees, appreciating their differences and understanding their goals and ambitions and providing them with space where they can grow and realise their dreams – whether they are work-related or not.

Stay tuned for our upcoming article on how to recruit the right skills to the product tanker industry; can Hafnia attract young and passionate talent to one of the world’s oldest industries?

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