Resources from the episode:

Transcript of the interview:

Docebo 0:07
Welcome back to the Learning Elevated podcast brought to you by Docebo. The show where we help you elevate your learning efforts and move up in the world of enterprise learning and development. Guiding you on your journey up the tower will be your elevator operators, myself, Rob Ayre and my co host, Kerri Moore. Now each week we stop off at a new floor but today we’re taking an emergency stop as many businesses have done over the past few weeks. We’ll be speaking with Docebo’s Chief Human Resources officer Francesca, Bossi and Docebo’s HR Director for North America, Noel Miller all about contingency planning for a crisis. So this is a pretty important episode, Rob, wouldn’t you say? Yeah, it absolutely is. And, you know, we did have a typical sort of schedule that we were looking to follow with this, but we felt that given the circumstances that are happening around the world, you know, it was kind of important on our end to share a little bit of our experience at Docebo with the current crisis. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s something that is on everybody’s lips right now. And everybody is dealing with things very differently. But for us, we wanted to show you guys what we’re doing. And actually, if you head on over to the website, we have our contingency plan up there for you guys. Just you know, we’re in the business of sharing our knowledge and our expertise. So we wanted to make it available for the community, should you want to strengthen your own plan. But yeah, I guess we’ll get right into it, hey? Absolutely, enjoy the episode, and we’ll speak afterwards.

We’re so excited today to be joined by Francesca Bossi, Docebo’s Chief Human Resources officer, and Noel Miller, the Director of HR for North America, both of you welcome to the podcast.

Noel Miller 1:44
Thank you. Thank you for being here.

Francesca Bossi 1:47
Thank you so much.

Docebo 1:49
So the past couple of weeks past couple of months really have been quite a quite a different time, I’m sure in all of your lives in the lives of Docebo. Can you tell us a little bit about what the last couple of months have been like?

Francesca Bossi 2:00
Of course. Yes, I think these past few months have been really, really, really challenging for us. Like for everybody. I mean, the situation that we’re facing is a global situation that raises a lot of things for everybody. And I think that the position that we as a company took was to put our people on top of our priorities so since day one, since January, to be honest, when we firstly read the news coming from China on the, on the on the newspapers, we really started to think how, just in case something could happen also in Europe or in North America, what we really could do to protect our employees. So we started really, really early to think about that. And we’ve really put in place a lot of strategies and why it’s a good way to structure an action plan to be ready for the emergency. So everything started really, really, really back in the past at the beginning of the year. So we can see that when things started to be really, really bigger, at least in Italy first, we were quite quite ready to face the emergency for what we could do, of course, so we are not operating in healthcare so for what we could do for our employees that we were really, really ready.

And how about for you, Noel, how did you find things?

Noel Miller 3:43
Fortunately, I feel as if us in North America were in a really, really great position specifically because of the efforts and energies that Italy took very proactively in response to this current situation. Unlike Italy, who had very little reference as a starting place, Italy was kind of a testing ground for implementing all of the actions in response to this. So for me as a North American resource, it was somewhat seamless to roll out the adjustments that we had to implement here because it had already been done in Italy. It was reassuring to see that Italy had taken certain actions and that they were met with a positive response and there was very little to adjust or correct. And everyone was doing well. So I think the position here in North America has been one that has been much less challenging to navigate because of our resources and our people in Italy and having them to look to.

Francesca Bossi 4:56
Oh, that’s fantastic to hear. So great to know that you were able to kind of band together on this because I think that’s something that we all need to do. Right? And but how important would you say was contingency planning and your response to the crisis? Maybe Noel can start.

Noel Miller 5:10
Sure. I think absolutely the contingency planning and the proactive approach to the contingency planning, again, with something that made it very, very seamless in adopting these transitions. I think anytime that you are making such a paramount shift in your business operations, there’s a lot to consider. And so trying to have some level of foresight based upon our prior experience with work from home initiatives, made it much much easier to identify potential obstacles to look to adjustments that we would need to make in order to implement this on a longer term basis. So I think having having existing plans in place and then being able to be flexible and understand that we’re going to use those existing plans to build those contingencies was absolutely paramount in having the quick and easy response that we did in terms of implementing this.

Francesca Bossi 6:14
That’s great to hear. Did you find the same thing, Francesca?

Yes. Yes, absolutely. I mean, our goal was to keep the business as usual, so we were lucky to, I mean, we are lucky to have a company with offices in Europe, in North America. so we were really used to working remotely together. We were used to working from home once per week in all the offices so that means that all the equipment we had that was ready to be used it on a daily basis. And of course, everybody was really really used it to communicating remotely via web conference, via chat, via zoom with all these tools that are allowing us to keep our functions really, really running as before, so that was a really important point for us.

Docebo 7:16
So what would you say Francesca are some of the most important lessons that you’ve kind of learned throughout all of this?

Noel Miller 7:23
Well, I think that mainly two points – for sure being resilient is something that we have learned so much. It is pretty much in our DNA. I mean, our company is really flexible, is growing very, very fast, and so we had to use to really face a lot of changes on a monthly basis. So when we have to face a new emergency new situation and you are really used to that, it is quite – I dont know to say simple because the situation is not absolutely simple, but at least we really have the tools to face such changes. And this is really reassuring because you know that not only the leadership or the employees are made in this way, so this is really in our DNA. So, being resilient is the lesson number one. And I really hope that we will keep this in our DNA forever. And then other thing is that for sure, I learned how much is important planning in advance because these are really helped us to be on track with this emergency. Back in January, we purchased a lot I mean, really, a lot of masks for our employees, and this helped us to supply everybody with their necessity tool kit when the emergency started and the masks were not available in the market. So that’s quite a clear example on how much planning in advance is really a huge help.

Docebo 9:11
Yeah, the planning in advance is I mean, it makes all the difference. Noel, on your end in North America, what are what are some of the kind of important lessons that you’ve been taking away from this?

Noel Miller 9:22
I would say certainly that I echo Francesca’s sentiments in terms of the resiliency and the planning. I think I would only supplement that with positivity. I think our job as HR resources, is to provide guidance and reassurance to the employees be it in a professional capacity or when things are impacting our employees outside of the office. And this current environment is one that I think perfectly echoes kind of the marriage of those two things and I think it’s important for us to do our very, very best to remain positive, to be encouraging, to provide valid and appropriate information and to really do our best to support our employees and our organization during a challenging time.

Francesca Bossi 10:20
On that remark, actually, Noel so obviously we did have a work from home policy already in place, but how have you found that your teams have responded for going fully remote? And like have people been okay with it? Have they dealt with it in a positive way? Or have you found some backlash?

Noel Miller 10:36
I think it has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response. Claudio shared some data on LinkedIn. I believe it was just yesterday or this morning, perhaps were via survey I think it was just under 88% of employees had acknowledged that they found that they were as engaged and as productive as they had been prior to this. We’re also getting responses from employees that they really appreciate the way that Docebo took on this initiative before other organizations were doing it and felt as if they as employees were being protected and advocated for. And so the response has been overwhelmingly positive. From my perspective.

Docebo 11:23
That’s fantastic to hear. And so do you have any recommendations for others then who want to implement this now?

Noel Miller 11:30
I think that absolutely, it is in the best interest of the organization and per public health recommendations to give people the opportunity to work from home. I think if you do not have the perfect plan in place, go with the bare minimum and be willing to adjust and correct as quickly as you can, understanding that employees will absolutely value the organization putting their safety at hand above and beyond what’s going on in the business. And if the experience is similar to ours, I think that there have been very few challenges, at least to date with making this transition. Certainly we will see over the long term, but I think that we have had fairly good results thus far. And I think the employees have really appreciated having the opportunity to work from home.

Docebo 12:25
That’s fantastic. And have you experienced the same thing over in Italy as well, Francesca?

Francesca Bossi 12:30
Yes, absolutely. To be honest, of course, to face this emergency as HR and I mean, not only HR but also the security team and the leadership were really working 24-7, but what keeps us motivated is seeing and reading all these messages coming from our employees that are so thankful for what we are doing for them. That is a really overwhelming, I mean, the easiest, the real meaning of my job when I see when I read all those messages, I feel like okay, I’m doing my job very well.

Docebo 13:11
Good, good as you should as well. You’re putting people first. And that’s what I think people react to. You’re taking care of us all. So we all appreciate that. Yeah. And so I’m curious as well. So now that you have the almost entirely remote workforce happening, how do you ensure kind of going forward that sort of concrete and consistent internal communication strategy?

Noel Miller 13:33
Well, we are lucky to have hired and at the end of last year is someone that is in charge fully in charge of the internal communication. So I’m really happy to work with that every day to assure that all the communications that we have to send to our employees that sometimes are very different county by county are really made in a positive way and we are really delivering the information that are necessary to everybody to work well but also feel better as a person because you know these emergencies impacting not just the way we work but is impacting us as human beings. So we have to make sure that our people is not only able to work well and to keep the business as usual, but they are feeling positive and well and staying positive with their families, and so that’s our real priority. Of course, we had, we built at the beginning of the emergency communication plan. We built basically a lot of communication in advance because as mentioned that we have planned and we have foresee how the emergency could eventually change and all the, all the changes that we had to, to make in every office at, you know, after one week after two week, after two weeks after three weeks. So working with someone who is in charge of it is really helping us.

Docebo 15:18
It’s really, it’s really important to have that sort of that internal person who’s able to, you know, kind of spearhead that and make sure that the communication is happening consistently across the board. And it’s and it’s happening, you know, on a regular basis. Sort of to cap this off, is there any other recommendations that you guys might have, both of you, for for other organizations that are going through this that you haven’t maybe already spoken to?

Francesca Bossi 15:41
For sure, put people as first I mean, the security keeping the environment safe, should be the priority of every HR in every company. So probably, it is in Important, of course, monitoring the productivity to monitor the business. And of course, we have to make sure that all the customers are happy that the sales teams are keeping selling, but this could not happen if the employees are not feeling safe. So that’s why these should be their, very very very main priority.

Docebo 16:25
Would you have anything to add to that, Noel?

Noel Miller 16:27
I would, I would challenge organizations to in the vein of staying positive, try to take from this the opportunity to look at their business through a very different lens, to have to incorporate and implement change that is very dynamic, and see how when we move beyond this current environment and beyond this crisis, how can we fundamentally change our businesses in a way where we take what we’ve experienced and really challenge how we’re operating in a way that we would not have done otherwise?

Francesca Bossi 17:09
Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. It’s a very strange time. And I think, yeah, the fact that we’re all banding together and coming up with solutions is great. Well, ladies, thank you so much for being on the call with us today. It’s our first remote podcast recording. So thank you for that. Sorry that it’s for this reason. But we really enjoyed speaking to you some great insights. And thank you for all that you do.

Noel Miller 17:29
Absolutely. Thank you.

Docebo 17:31
Thank you guys. Bye.

Thank you again to both Francesca and Noel, your insights, as always, were so appreciated and I hope that everybody listening was able to take one or two things away, and really hopeful that it’s going to be useful in the days and weeks to come ahead. We’ll be back with our regular scheduled programming next week. And please do be sure to head back to that’s where you’ll be able to find all the resources, including our business continuity strategy that we put together as a bit of a use case for what Docebo has done in this situation. Stay safe guys.

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Floor 3.5: Emergency StopFrancesca Bossi & Noel Miller