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As a Human First company, the safety of its employees is of utmost importance to ADEO, as illustrated by its Safety First strategy. This will soon be supplemented by a new policy for health in the workplace, which will meet growing concerns relative to the mental health and work-life balance of its leaders and candidates, via very real initiatives. Romain Baril, in charge of Health in the Workplace for the Group, provides some explanations and implications.

In recent years, a majority of companies have found themselves confronted with a worrying increase in musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and the consequences of psychosocial risks (PSR).

According to Malakoff Humanis, absenteeism increased by 41% between 2019 and 2022. Meanwhile, AXA, in its 2023 absenteeism observatory, reports that in 2022, for the first time, “psychological disorders and mental health” (22.2%) outnumbered “MSDs” (21.2%) in terms of overall sick leave.


For Romain Baril, this is explained by “a change in the way we look at work, with new expectations on the part of employees who want a better work-life balance”. We can add to this societal change, the consequences of the Covid crisis, which, among other things, transformed logistics and product flows. In retail-related sectors, sales channels have been diversified and workers have seen an increase in the number of tasks they need to perform.


“I’m approaching the roll-out of the health policy with enthusiasm and genuine optimism. The fact that we worked for many months in a spirit of collaboration with all the BUs gives strength to the initiative”.


Four priorities and a multitude of actions


After several years devoted to improving safety and reducing the frequency of accidents, ADEO has decided to launch a proactive initiative to position Health and Well-being issues at a global level.


With this in mind, Romain Baril took the lead on this topic, based on the principle of co-construction. He decided to involve most of the BUs, with departments such as HR, the Positive Impact challenge, ASF, data specialists and a number of leaders. A review of what had already been done internally, and an external benchmark, also helped to further refine thoughts on the subject of health in the workplace.


The result of these efforts is a policy that’s true to ADEO’s Human First culture, and which strengthens its Safety First initiative. The aim is to contribute to the Group’s human and economic performance, while meeting the expectations of every employee.


Some key issues have therefore been identified, around four priorities entitled:

  • Act on MSDs,
  • Act on PSRs,
  • Develop well-being,
  • Be there for employees at times when they’re in need of support.


Working groups, organised for each priority, then laid out plans of action. Of course, as Romain Baril points out, “before a policy on health in the workplace was formalised, many initiatives existed, all in line with a benevolent managerial model”. This positioning has therefore been consolidated by “actions with straightforward intentions”.


For example, when it comes to MSDs, physical effort needs to be reduced by thinking about an organisation that saves on handling. At the same time, the renovation of certain premises is planned.


Acting on PSRs will involve, among other things, training managers to spot the warning signs of deteriorating work situations considered toxic for mental health, so that they can intervene as quickly as possible. The work-life balance should also be reviewed, taking greater account of the peaks and troughs inherent in retail professions. Developing well-being will be achieved by sharing moments of conviviality in-person and periods of rest and disconnection during working hours.


Finally, ADEO wants to consolidate its presence with absent employees, by maintaining ties between them and their managers, and by helping those who are going through difficult personal times. “We want to encourage the BUs to support employees who are suffering from financial hardship due to health problems”, underlines Romain Baril.


Once the health policy has been approved by the International Safety Committee at the beginning of the autumn, the Managing Directors and HR leaders of each BU will receive the necessary explanations, which will be passed on to the Safety Leaders, who are the real transmission vectors. “We will explain the medium to long-term programme to managers, and assist them with this challenge”. Deployment should be carried out over six months to a year.


For Romain Baril, the anticipated effects of this health policy will be part of a virtuous circle.

“The success of the business is greatly reliant on well-trained teams that are competent and happy to work for our brands. Otherwise, absenteeism increases and the system can grind to a halt”.


An indicator to be closely monitored
Along with this ongoing approach, ADEO will apply a “Health in the Workplace” index. This will include data on absenteeism unrelated to occupational accidents, accidentology, EXI surveys and quantified results related to training in health and safety. Using the database generated and the wealth of data from employee experience surveys, it will be possible to explore the psychosocial aspect and the way in which our leaders perceive their working conditions.

at ADEO, the rate of absenteeism in 2022 reached 5.6%.