We have been very proactive in pushing Digital India Mission, says Sodexo's Stephane Michelin
Sodexo, the world's largest 'quality of life', services company, carries tangible benefits for the staff. It also has an effect on the corporations themselves as their productivity too gets a boost.
Sodexo, the world's largest 'quality of life', services company has changed the way the corporate world looks at extending employee benefits with its meal cards and more. While this carries tangible benefits for the staff, it also has an effect on the corporations themselves as their productivity too gets a boost. This and much more, including partnerships with Jio Money, RBI and LIC were highlighted by Stephane Michelin, CEO, Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services in an interview with Zee Business's Aprajita Sharma. Here are edited excerpts from a wide-ranging interview:
Q. Sodexo has positioned itself as a 'quality of life' enhancing company. What does that stand for exactly?
Quality of life services for Sodexo means quality of life at the workplace. When employees come to office, what do they expect? Clean work environment, good food, smiles at the reception to set up their day in a positive way. They want employers to support them and their family, provide them certain benefits that shows the organisation cares for them This can be in the form of meal cards and gift cards. This is what quality of life improvement is all about, and we are actively participating in improving the quality of life of the people in India.
Q. How does Sodexo work on enhancing the productivity of employees at workplace?
It is all linked. Keeping every employee engaged is how you increase productivity at workplace. Going by work engagement surveys, in most cases what has come in as complaints from employees include the ones like companies not providing enough benefits or inadequate services around working environment etc. We are working with HRs to build strategies as to how corporations can cater to staff's needs and thereby even reduce attrition. We help them set up some programs to reward their best talents. Offering attractive employee value proposition is important because during recruitment, people now ask outside the service itself, what else are the corporations offering. These could be medical services, meal cards, or vacations.
Q. Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services in India. Explain.
Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services is well known in India. We have been here for more than 20 years. Sodexo reaches out to over 3 million daily consumers in India in more than 1,500 cities nationally catering to 11,000-plus clients at 100,000 unique points of acceptance. We are 100 per cent digital too. This has changed everything for corporations and employees. We are 100 per cent digital for meal cards and gift cards. Today, our direction is more toward enabling users to transact digitally whenever and wherever they want.
Q. Did you actively plan about pushing the Digital India Mission, or it just happened?
We are actively participating in Digital India Mission. We had first observed this digital trend 15 years ago in Latin America, Brazil, Mexico and Columbia. The experience there helped us become more efficient and proactive in India. In most of the cases, we were the first ones to bring POS machines to kirana shops, thus introducing them to digital way of transactions. We are proud to say that we have actively participated in Digital India Mission and we will go on doing so.
Q. Sodexo claims to be a leader in employee benefits solutions. What kind of employee benefit services do you offer here?
We have the solutions of today, we also the solutions of tomorrow. Today we are offering most advanced platforms to offer benefits to our clients' staff, which can accommodate various methods of payment like swiping cards, tap and pay, or IVR. We are the only one offering a multi-benefit suite. With a single dashboard, HRs can manage, meal, gift, communication, fuel LTA and gadgets etc. It is a full suite of benefits to simplify the administrative work, thus easing the life of HRs and employees.
Q. Tell us about your partnership with Jio Money. Has it received good response?
It has received fantastic response! We have a strategical alliance with Jio Money. It will really make a difference in TIER 3 and TIER 4 cities where I am sure Jio Money will be extremely successful and consequently we will have a network of acceptance of our cards and digital solutions which is unquestionable and unbeatable.
With Jio Money we have a clear strategy of providing services especially to kirana shops. We will enable them with tools to accept digital transactions. We will also help them in their daily administrative business. All Sodexo users will be able to link their account with Jio Money and consequently pay at Kirana stores with their Jio Money Wallet wherever those are accepted. Our ambition is to equip millions of Kirana shops with technology and consequently users will be able to use their Sodexo cards at these millions of kirana shops.
Q. Give us the details of your client/customer base.
It is a very heterogeneous base, which is normal because Sodexo had segmented at an early stage in Indian market. We have a specific division for PSUs. Our major clients include LIC and RBI. We have 200 PSU clients. We have more than 90 per cent of market share in PSU market. We have segmented in SME segment too. In the middle, we are segmented more by industry. 25 per cent of out portfolio is made of big IT companies such as Wipro and some consulting firms like Deloitte.
Q. What is your revenue model?
Our revenue model is very simple. We charge service fee for enabling the corporations digitally. We also channel consumers to merchants. For that, we charge small commission. This is also our source of revenue.
Q. Is there a specific reason as to why Sodexo meal cards are restricted to food and non-alcoholic beverages.
This is by law. This is a regulation of Income Tax. Indian government had made it clear 20 years ago that it was a social purpose. All the workers need to have access to basic and decent food through our company. It is required by law. So if you look at Income Tax laws, this is only for food items excluding alcohol and tobacco. Significantly, corporations can’t take risks of any deviation happening on this aspect. So, it is all about respecting the social purpose. This definition is very important. This is why the utilisation of our product is just restricted to food.