Interview with Audrey Le Meur, Head of HR Development, in charge of integration and training. Audrey coordinates, among other things, the integration process designed to retain new employees. It’s a real challenge in a growing market.

Why focus on integration?

Axione installs fixed (fibre) and mobile (4G) telecommunications infrastructure, both in France and internationally. The telecoms market is booming, and as a leader in PINs (Public-Initiative Networks), Axione is an active participant in this largescale town and country planning project. To match our ambitions, we have a highly dynamic recruitment policy. We currently have over 400 open positions with an average rate of 60 members of staff recruited per month: our number of staff has grown from 1,000 employees only two years ago, to more than 1,800 today. This is exceptional company-wide growth, and we must support it by adequately preparing employees so they can quickly adapt to their new work environment. The idea of course is to successfully retain talent. Our global team turnover rate is currently at 7%, with a national average in 2018 of 15%*: this is encouraging, but we can still do better.

What challenges are inherent to the current integration process?

Our keyword is “re-ten-tion”. Obviously, new employees must immediately feel at home, but our approach goes far beyond that: it takes place over three months and aims to provide an introduction to the company, its culture, its modus operandi, internal development prospects due to interdisciplinary links, and even development prospects within the Bouygues group. Our objective is for them to feel integrated as soon as possible, but also for them to see themselves as part of the group in the long term.

For this purpose, you favour a digital approach…?

The process is indeed partially digital. We use an application platform developed by a company that specialises in professional development programmes. Each recruit uses it and works through various issues through 56 questions with additional “quizzes”. This formula allows people to learn, in a fun way, about the company’s various codes, including strategy, safety at work, Axione’s areas of activity, HR processes, mobility, the internal disability policy, etc.

But the human touch remains essential!

So as not to abandon social relations, which are crucial to a company’s success, each recruit is also assigned a sponsor. Picked based on the geographical proximity to their mentee, the sponsor’s task is to aid them in their integration by helping out with more informal subjects, without replacing their manager. Whatever their status or position, all contribute voluntarily and are comfortable with this coaching role. We already have around a hundred employees wearing the sponsor badge, but this number must continue to grow to support the company’s growth. Also, if any employees are interested after reading this article, they shouldn’t hesitate to volunteer… We’re recruiting sponsors too! (laughter)

What happens after the three-month period?

The process ends with an integration day. The morning is dedicated to “top-down” information sessions where, for example, managers talk about the company’s history. We have a little surprise for participants in the afternoon in the form of a game but I will say no more – I’ll let the new recruits be the first to know…
And thus the entire Axione integration process comes to a symbolic end. However, efforts to retain employees never really stop, and everyone has a role to play: managers, colleagues, HR, etc., we all play a part and together form the spirit of the company!

*Source: Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR)