Making it simpler for Carrefour Argentina’s employees to call in sick
A cloud-based contact centre that cuts costs and unnecessary time off.
When you’re feeling ill, the last thing you want is to be hanging on the phone trying to get a message through to your boss. And your boss has enough things to think about to bother with HR processes.
Carrefour, a major employer in Argentina, called on us to cure this problem – and we thought Cloud Contact could be just the ticket. Now, employees dial a freephone number when they’re sick, and everything’s handled in one conversation. Email notifications go out to the boss, HR and medical centre, so it’s easy to follow up with each employee when they return to work.
French retail giant Carrefour is well known across Europe, with operations in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. It’s a major employer in Argentina, with around 20,000 staff across almost 600 outlets. For most of the company’s 38-year history in the country, employees have had to phone their workplace to say they’re sick.
However, workers couldn’t always get in touch with their store or with the Carrefour health centre where they could get free treatment, making it difficult to justify absence.
The system was just about workable in hypermarkets, but in smaller shops – like Carrefour Express – they needed more sick leave control.
Diego Aranguri Díaz, head of personnel health and security at Carrefour Argentina, explains: “At such outlets there are only two or three workers per shift, so if one wasn’t there they could barely operate.” Another problem was that the cost of sick absenteeism had risen sharply in recent years. Carrefour estimates it increased from seven to 14 percent between 1997 and 2014.
Before, sick-leave notification was decentralised and there wasn’t a single process. Now it only requires one free call, with minimal hassle.”
We worked with Carrefour to create a sickness and accident leave reporting channel that would be simple for employees – and effective for the business. Our professional services global consultancy teams have expertise from 25 years’ experience of devising strategic technological solutions to meet specific business goals. So they were definitely up to the task.
To keep costs to a minimum, we proposed Cloud Contact. A complete virtual contact centre solution, it means customers can quickly scale the number of agents, but only pay for what’s used on a per-agent, per-month basis. The resulting Medical Assistance Service (Servicio de Atención Médica or SAM in Spanish) is a cost-effective Cloud Contact facility based at the Carrefour Argentina headquarters in Buenos Aires, integrated into the company’s HR systems.
If they’re sick, employees can access the SAM anytime via a Freefone 08000 number. With it, notifying the company takes a single, free call. A contact centre agent team passes the notification on to store managers, HR and the medical centres, helping them to follow up on the illness.
Outside working hours, employees can leave a message via the Freefone number. If they’re calling about a work-related accident, the SAM IVR sends them to a workers’ compensation insurance company for treatment. Each employee then has to submit a photo of their doctor’s note, using WhatsApp, ready to send to the relevant health centre.
It only took us 100 days to develop the SAM project, with our professional services team doing a significant amount of work on the HR systems integration.
The SAM has been working without a hitch since its launch. In the first seven months it took 24,000 calls and helped cut absenteeism by 0.25 percent – representing a saving of ARS$12 million (nearly £600,000) net of implementation costs.
Mariano Patané, head of workplace health for Carrefour Argentina, says: “As well as making sick notification easier for employees, the system can collect statistical data. We can track the progress of diseases and take appropriate action.”
Carrefour also faces fewer sick leave-related disputes with trade unions, since all SAM conversations are recorded and can be used as proof of what employees did or didn’t tell the company.
The success of the SAM is leading Carrefour Argentina to integrate the system with its in-house clinics. That’ll mean referrals and case histories can be managed and monitored in one place.
The SAM has exceeded our expectations. We were looking for an economic benefit but this is a sustainable, long-term project.”