Coca-Cola's Global Challenges

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Coca-Cola’s Global Challenges

C:\Users\Cameron\Downloads\imageCoca-Cola is arguably the most global company in the world, operating in more than 200 countries with over 130,000 employees with only 53% of sales in North America. Coke is a mature business in a mature industry with sales flattening out in 2011 to a steady $46B projected all the way through to the end of 2014.

Coke faces nearly every challenge that a global company can face. From resource scarcity to divergent health issues, Coke must manage the local needs of each community it operates in while delivering value on a global scale.

A well-designed social network has strengths that could address at least one challenge. That is, the challenge of increasing employee health and wellness at minimal cost.

Coca-cola’s ability to grow and generate value depends on the ability to maintain costs and increase the profitability of their operations. With so many employees, the wellness, health, and happiness of each is a major contributor in achieving the ambitious goal of continuous improvement year over year.

With such limited sales growth and extremely tight margins, Coca-Cola must engage employees on a high level at a very low cost. Companies such as Google, GE, and the Mayo Clinic achieve high engagement and wellness for their employees by offering centralized programs such as in-office gyms, food, and child care. But, it would be impossible for Coca-Cola to provide such care to its extremely distributed employee base spanning the developed and developing world.

Coca-Cola’s and Happiness

Coca-Cola aligns themselves with an image of happiness both externally in their brand and internally in their employee engagement plan. Initiatives around the world to approach happiness in a global context have pushed the boundaries of expectations from advertising. Such initiatives include the “Small World Machines” campaign where innovative technology was used to promote global friendship at Coca-Cola vending machines.

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Coca-Cola also describes the role of employee engagement on their company website.

We strive to create open work environments as diverse as the markets we serve, where people are inspired to create superior results. We also aim to create environments where people are fully engaged and where the Company is viewed both internally and externally as an employer of choice.” -http://www.coca-colacompany.com/our-company/employee-engagement

The Happiness Network

The idea presented here is the purposeful creation of a social network dedicated to increasing the happiness of Coca-Cola’s employees. Each employee is assigned to Happiness Teams, which will be responsible for the wellness plan of other employees, and in turn will have their own Happiness Team assigned to them.

Measuring the Untreated

Normally, wellness plans are a one-to-one relationship between the company and the employee. But, the effect of an intervention is better measured by understanding the response to treatment by the untreated. That is, the effect of a wellness plan is better understood by measuring the effect that the plan has on someone other than the recipient. This is why employees will be made responsible for each other and will be evaluated on how well they help each other instead of how well they perform themselves.

The Amplifying Effect

To date, wellness has been treated as a highly personal issue for the individual. Benefits, plans, and rewards are all tailored to individual needs and wants, and while there have been successes, this approach largely ignores the benefits of the social network within which each individual is embedded.

By making each employee responsible for the Happiness of other employees, there is an opportunity to amplify the effect of positive wellness behaviour with minimum investment. Social networks can harness a powerful effect that can generate effectiveness without any external cost: they magnify whatever they are seeded with. If a social network is seeded with cooperation, it will magnify that cooperation across the network, and more relevantly, a strong social network that is seeded with behaviours that promote wellness, will magnify such behaviours.

We hope that by using a social network to magnify positive behaviours, the total costs of improving employee happiness will be a fraction of individualistic methods currently used by companies. There are many behaviours that employees can take which cost little or nothing, from spending more time reading, getting more sleep, exercising or spending more time with family. A wellness plan which encourages employees to engage in positive behaviour, rather than participate in expensive wellness benefit programs, could achieve higher outcomes with very, very little costs.

Social Learning

Social networks provide an opportunity for social learning, whereby learning from another person’s journey is less expensive than everyone having to learn by experience. By creating teams that include employees from the same culture and remote cultures, the benefit of diverse perspectives is balanced with support from people who understand the local context. Information sharing and learning becomes easy and very cheap.

The Power of Data

In addition to improving happiness at a low cost, a social network will provide important data for understanding what works and what doesn’t. Feedback from the network will help understand what is working in the context and culture of each employee. This data can be used to help allocate existing wellness budgets

Global Health Challenges

The global trends in health are not the same in OECD countries as they are in developing countries. The income level and culture of each region presents different challenges, for example in OECD, health threats are more threatening to the individual and in developing countries they are more related to contagion. However, no matter where employees are in the world, they can all benefit from a personal wellness plan.

Network Fluidity

Fluidity is an important measure for a social network for maximizing cooperation and positive behaviour propagation. Fluidity is the degree to which relationships change in the network. Too much fluidity prevents trust-building and too little fluidity causes “bad apples” to propagate negative behaviour.

The teams will be distributed across the world, giving the opportunity to work with people from every area of the organization, both functionally and geographically. In order to balance the liquidity of the network, employees will have different roles on each of their teams. On one team they might be working closely with their client for a whole year, and on other teams they may be helping with part time support, and on others they will be only advisors for a month at a time.

By changing the geographies and durations that employees work with each other, the network can learn the best way to put a team together to get positive results. How long a team leader should work with a client and how often the advisors should be rotated, will become critical variables in creating a robust system that amplifies the behaviours that promote employee engagement and wellness.

Suggested Implementation

The Human Network will assign each employee, regardless of geography or pay grade, a team of five employees from around the world to actively manage their wellness program. The employee will be treated as a client and the team will be responsible for the success of their client. This means each employee will be a client for one team, and serve on five other teams.

Role

Client #

Time Commitment

Per Week

Team Leader

1

30 min

Support

2

10 min

Support

3

10 min

Advisor

4

5 min

Advisor

5

5 min

Total Time Per Week

60 min

The idea would not be to overwhelm employees with a lot of extra work, but to give them some time to connect with other members of the Coca-Cola global community in a meaningful way.

Happiness plans will be made of a “menu” of items, pre-screened by professionals at Coca-Cola. Employees can make requests for items which are not on the menu, and the company can learn in this way.

Implementation Challenges as Strengths

There will be difficulties in implementing an ambitious and innovative initiative such as this and the success of the network will be dependent on the ability to use the power of social networks to change the challenges into strengths.

For example, every employee will have a different set of personal objectives, different opinions about health and wellness, and various capacities for following through. The diversity of the network must become its strength, where learning and encouragement comes above who is “right” or “wrong” about how to be happy.

Measuring success may be problematic as employees are accountable for another person’s wellbeing. Understanding the difference between an uncooperative client and an uncooperative coach may be difficult, but the data from the network should be able to identify who the champions of the process are and who may need additional encouragement or incentives.

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