A celebration of what is possible in a post-pandemic world

Sep 06 | 2022

Steve Jordan talks to De Haan’s HR manager about changes in the company’s approach to staff in the ‘working from home’ era following the pandemic.

Helma Rutten-ReniersHelma Rutten-Reniers is HR manager for De Haan in The Netherlands.  It was during a recent OMNI sustainability webinar, one of a series being run by the network for the benefit of its own and FIDI members, that she voiced her thoughts on the sustainability of the workforce.  I thought it would be a good idea to have a chat and learn a little more about what she has in mind.

When most people talk about sustainability they are referring to the management of greenhouse gas emissions. Though this might be important for Helma, professionally she has a different focus.  She is concerned about the sustainability of her company’s workforce. 

She’s been with the company for five years and was one of Wouter Hijzen’s first hires when he took over as CEO in August 2017.  Helma explained that De Haan always looks after its staff, but COVID has added another level of complexity to keeping people happy.  “We believe that employees should come first because if they are happy they will spend less time off sick, they will perform better, and they'll treat customers better.” 

When COVID hit
Many office staff always had the opportunity of working from home, but many didn’t, thinking that they would be less effective working remotely.  “But when COVID hit, we were all working from home within a week,” Helma explained. It worked OK for a while but, after about a year, Helma noticed that people were becoming detached. “Everyone was doing their own thing. The connection with the organisation was getting less and less.”

Helma has a young child herself and understands the concept of work/life balance.  In fact, she did her Masters thesis on the subject 20 years ago and knows that it has become even more important today.  But perhaps COVID had forced the relationship between family and business too far the other way.  It needed another look ...

Photo: Helma Rutten-Reniers.

Click here to read the full story in The Mover magazine.

Click here to read the next editor's pick.