It's been a turbulent couple of years for Etisalat Misr, Egypt's third-largest mobile network operator, marked by a political uprising and economic uncertainty. Yet the company managed to save nearly $5 million thanks to an employee innovation program launched in 2009.
The economic slowdown that followed the Arab Spring revolution in 2011 "resulted in a complete shift in the plans and a very strict and tight contingency plan that included budget cuts and a reduction in hiring for the year—a 40 percent cut in new head count," says Marwa Aziz, a human resources specialist with the company.
Company officials describe a chaotic scene after violence erupted in January 2011 in Cairo where thousands had gathered to protest then-President Hosni Mubarak's rule. The company moved quickly to make sure that its 3,000 employees were safe. Private security was beefed up, transportation was provided to and from work, and a landline was established so workers and managers could communicate after the government cut Internet and some mobile services.
Aziz says that Etisalat's employee recognition program helped improve morale. The initiative offers prizes to employees with the most innovative ideas.
One idea resulted in the No Queue service program to reduce customer wait times in Etisalat retail stores. Using text messages, customers receive a ticket number and an estimated wait time allowing them to do other things before coming to the store. Company officials say that the feature resulted in $1.6 million in savings. Technological innovations "to facilitate the internal operations within the company and enhance external customer experience" saved Etisalat $3.4 million.
The company also launched a "breakthrough award" recognizing top performers, thank-you cards that managers and employees use to praise good work, and competitions among departments to reward engagement, successes and innovative ideas.
From 2009 to 2010, employee engagement increased from 44 to 65 percent, according to the company's employee engagement index.
For the company's business success, Etisalat Misr is the 2012 winner of the Optimas Award for Financial Impact.
Rita Pyrillis is Workforce's senior writer. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workforce Management, November 2012, p. 27 -- Subscribe Now!