Zorana Novaković, P&O Director Mars UBBAI: The focus is on diversity and inclusiveness

We build relationships based on mutual respect, trust and responsibility

Аbout challenges in the organization of remote work,  are there any difficulties for new employees in getting acquainted with work, but also about new projects and campaigns at company Mars, we spoke with Zorana Novaković, P&O Director Mars UBBAI

Zorana Novaković, P&O Director Mars UBBAI

After the initial challenges in the organization of remote work during last year, new struggles appeared in care for employee wellbeing. How do you motivate your team and encourage them to balance work and personal life?

These times highlighted the importance of work and personal life balance, and called for unique ways in maintaining employee wellbeing levels, both physically and emotionally.

At Mars, we have the Health and Safety department focusing on both mental and physical wellbeing, with psychological help and support for employees.

The Mars Associate Assistance Program is now available in every country we operate in. This program provides a personal and confidential resource, which is designed to support Associates to thrive through free access to a wide range of consulting services, helping to resolve personal concerns that may affect work and wellbeing. This service is available and open to all our Associates and their household members.

It also involves wellbeing ambassadors – enthusiastic employees ready to help, not depending on the position this person holds professionally. For instance, in our UBBAI region, there are 7 wellbeing ambassadors. Their main task is to devote a certain time every day to regularly engage other employees in activities that are beneficial for them. Alongside with other wellbeing related activities at Mars, we have experimented in several ways – for instance, online yoga sessions, morning exercises and similar. Also, our colleagues, here in the Balkans, read fairy tales online to children of other colleagues, thereby giving some free time to parents of these kids.

The work process in the broad and diverse region like UBBAI that has 15 markets must be impressive. What digital tools do you use for the improvement of communication, performance and learning?

In our UBBAI region, there is a great diversity of generations, languages and cultures, as well as communication and leadership differences. Accordingly, we build relationships based on mutual respect, trust and responsibility, in which employees are free to ask questions and contact any colleague, regardless of the country in which they are located.

Also, we are using digital HR management tools already for some time, and strive for efficiency and simplicity in our geographically dispersed setup. One of the most frequently used tools is the iTMS system – Integrated Talent Management system – that is accessible to employees, line managers and HR, and it integrates various data throughout the employee life cycle.

In order to stay on top of learning demands in the Digital Age, a few years ago we introduced the internal learning platform with unlimited on-demand learning opportunities for leadership and functional development – MyMarsU. Many resources, videos, articles and e-learnings are accessible through this platform ensuring the best learning experience for everyone – employees can learn exactly what they need when they have time and as much as they need.

How did the new situation affect job interviews and attracting talents? Are there any difficulties for new employees in getting acquainted with work?

Mars has developed an employee selection process which has been adjusted fully for remote interaction with candidates. There are no borders anymore for attracting talents and developing careers of employees across the world. It depends on language skills, but the physical location, mobility or readiness to relocate does not play so critical role in chasing professional dreams anymore. It is a win-win for both employees and employers. Employees are able to explore career development opportunities without sacrificing family or personal aspects, meanwhile, companies can hire high level professionals anywhere.

“The #HereToBeHeard campaign was launched as part of the “Full Potential” program and aims to provide all women an equal chance of success”

Furthermore, we use our own approach of candidate evaluation which includes competency assessment and practical tasks and it is also successful in the remote selection process, done via MS Teams. In order to provide more information to candidates about the company and future workplace we currently use social media and various employer branding activities, but for sure in nearest future, additional tools will be used also in the area of promoting employer brand, attraction and recruitment. The focus is on diversity and inclusiveness, to ensure that everyone feels accepted, respected and engaged.

As part of the long-standing struggle for gender equality, Mars has introduced a new global #HereToBeHeard campaign. How will the campaign contribute to creating a fair business environment? 

At Mars, we strive to create gender balance and equal earnings for more than 130,000 Associates. In the UBBAI region, to which Serbia belongs, women represent more than 46% of employees, while we have 75% of women in our leadership team.

The #HereToBeHeard campaign was launched as part of the “Full Potential” program and aims to provide all women an equal chance of success. All women are invited to share their opinion on a special website Beheard.Mars.com and say what needs to be done to achieve equality in the world. The collected opinions will be analyzed at the University of Oxford and will be used to develop activities and initiatives aimed at empowering women and creating equal opportunities for all.

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