Eurocontrol: Boosting a culture of collaboration … with lunch

Agenda Director Roger Parry recently delivered a workshop on culture change at the Career Development Roundtable (CDR) in St Gallen. The CDR also celebrated a number of organisations which are delivering innovating and exciting projects.

The CDR Awards, sponsored by Agenda Consulting, recognises innovation from the day to day work of HR practitioners, sharing knowledge on successfully addressed strategic or operational challenges.

The winner of the Employee Engagement Award was Eurocontrol. We interviewed Sélim Jardak, HR manager at EuroControl on what staff engagement means to the organisation and the initiative they introduced that lead to them winning the award.


Congratulations on winning the CDR Employee Engagement Award Sélim. Why would you say employee engagement is important to Eurocontrol?


“Eurocontrol is experiencing the unprecedented fast pace of change. We often have changing strategic priorities and subsequent realignments affecting organisational structures as well as the roles and responsibilities of our people. Staff engagement is always important, but particularly in these times of change. Because our staff have remained motivated, they have delivered their best and adapted fast. The hard work of our staff enables us to maintain our place as a key technical player in ATM & European Aviation, so it’s important not just for individuals but on an organisational level as well.”


collaborationCan you tell us about the project you embarked on which lead to you winning this award?

“Our goal was to break down the organisation’s silo mentality. We wanted to reinforce socialisation, collaboration and networking within the organisation, across different departments. The aim was to facilitate collaboration and create a sense of belonging.

We decided to introduce an app which connects staff (who register) by randomly matching them and inviting them to go for lunch. In collaboration with a small Munich-based company “MysteryMind”, we designed the system (logo, look-and-feel) with a focus group made up of 20+ staff who decided to call the initiative ‘Connect@Lunch’.”


Were there any hurdles to overcome in the process?


“We were very aware that this could be pushing people outside of their comfort zones as some individuals are more sociable than others. We overcame this by making sure that the frequency settings were customisable, so that if you only wanted to go for lunch with someone once a month you could do so, while others could set their frequency to twice a week if they preferred. Registering for the app was made optional also.

We also wanted the entire workforce (staff, consultants, trainees, national seconded experts) to try it out and build connections beyond contractual relations.”


What benefits are you seeing from using the Connect@Lunch app?



“It’s been going for 18 months now. The app is being used by more than 100 registered people across the whole organisation. That’s a lot of “lunches with strangers”! Staff are using the app to meet with people who are in different departments, of different work experiences, different cultural backgrounds and of different ages or gender. People are meeting others, building connections with people who otherwise they might not have had the opportunity to meet. It has become a tool for more inclusion and collaboration, hence benefiting our Diversity & Inclusion strategy.

There are obvious social benefits to the app, but on an organisational level, it is allowing staff to get an insight into other activities, projects and successes across the business, collaborating on ideas and skills. Reinforcement of the sense of belonging, reduction in isolation and enhanced confidence in staff has had a significant impact on overall engagement.”


So, what’s next for the app and Eurocontrol?


“We are now looking at connecting groups of people rather than just two individuals. We’re also exploring how we can bring people together based on shared interests. For example, if you wanted to meet with a group of people to discuss cyber security, you could use the app to make this happen. The goal is to create communities of good practice.”


You can find out more about the CDR Award here.

Roger’s workshop presentation at the CDR Roundtable has been turned into a webinar and you can download the slides here.


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