Manufacturers, packaging companies, retailers, governments and consumers... we all struggle to meet the challenges of sustainability. Things need to improve – that much is clear. But how? We set out to find answers in the ‘jungle of sustainability’. In the third part of this series we talk to Erik Bunge, CEO of Smurfit Kappa Benelux, which is part of one of the world's largest and leading paper and cardboard producers. Above all, Erik advocates an innovative approach to the issue of waste, whether it concerns paper, plastic or any other aspect.
Good Luck Boxes: Showing our people that we care
What do you do at times when you demand a lot from your employees? That’s right – you give them a token of appreciation for their commitment and flexibility. But since a lively staff summer barbecue is ‘off the menu’ right now, our receptionist Germie de Graaff came up with a worthy alternative: Good Luck Boxes.
Germie relates how this has been a trying time for the Vetipak employees: “Since I work front of house, I’m aware of just about everything that’s going on. Some employees have told me about their fear of getting the virus, or their frustration at having to stay away from their family members. And then, of course, there’s having to stick to social distancing guidelines (Dutch people must maintain a distance of 1.5 metres). All of this combined tends to put a lot of strain on people, both at home and here in the workplace. Since they’ve all done a wonderful job adapting to the new situation, I thought they deserved some credit.”
Getting the ball rolling
When Germie first floated her idea of rewarding the employees to HR Manager Hans Joore, he was on board immediately, even asking her to come up with a creative proposal.
“As soon as someone tells me that, I’m ready to go,” Germie smiles. “The idea I came up with was the Good Luck Box: a beautifully designed box containing some fun and thoughtful gifts. That really got the ball rolling: Erik Vlassak designed a beautiful box, Johan Verbruggen was in charge of the chocolate, Angelique Nooijen created the cards, and Nathalie Joosten put together the lists of names. As for me, I was responsible for the games and National Lottery tickets.”
“It was a treat to see all those guys
working the assembly line together”
To make sure it would all be a big surprise, the Good Luck Boxes were produced and prepared in secret – not by the workers who usually do this, but by our company’s board members and plant managers.
“It was a treat to see all those guys working the assembly line together,” Germie says. “What struck me the most? I was impressed by Arno van de Ven’s organisational skills and multitasking skills: he has no trouble doing two things at once! But everyone involved did a fabulous job, and by the end of the afternoon all the Good Luck Boxes were packed and ready to be shipped out.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic remaining a threat for the foreseeable future, we will all have to adhere to the new workplace rules of engagement, and the Good Luck Boxes are meant not just as a thank-you gift, but also to encourage people.
Germie: “My little plan really turned into a success, and feedback from my co-workers has been extremely positive. We also produced a number of extra boxes, which we will soon be handing out to people whom our employees believe also deserve a bit of joy in their lives. They can suggest the recipients themselves – how inspiring is that? I’m confident we’re all going to make it through this challenging period, because ‘Making the difference together’ is more than just a company slogan at Vetipak!”
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