Covivio, a European company where it’s good to work

  • Corporate & Real estate
  • HR


  • Elsa Canetti

    HR Director, Covivio

  • Giovanna Ruda

    Chief Corporate Officer, Covivio (Italy)

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  • Uwe Becker

    Head of Corporate Office & Head of Legal Corporate, Covivio (Germany)

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Covivio created its internal HR survey in France in 2015, before extending it to Europe in 2019. Since then, Covivio employees in France, Italy and Germany have been surveyed every two years. From strategy to trust in the management team, business line transformation, changes in the working environment and HR policy, the topics covered help provide an insight into the company. It is also a collaborative approach, whereby the employees are free to put forward their own ideas.

Elsa Canetti, Covivio Human Resources Director, Uwe Becker, Head of Corporate Office, Covivio Germany, and Giovanna Ruda, Chief Corporate Officer, Covivio Italy, give us an overview of this virtuous initiative.

How did the internal survey come about?  

Elsa Canetti: We started discussing the idea of an engagement survey around 10 years ago, as a necessary addition to the development of an HR and management policy. We launched it in France in 2015 and the findings were extremely positive. In 2019, with the creation of our brand at European level, we pursued this integration by expanding the survey to Italy and Germany. 

The survey is a valuable tool that for the first time provided an “objective” snapshot of the working environment, which we already deemed very positive at the time. This tool allows us to hear what employees have to say, take stock of their feelings and identify our strengths and weaknesses. And we welcome negative feedback as it helps us identify areas for improvement. 

To construct the survey questionnaire, we turned to Kantar, a market research firm that provided us with its benchmark survey – a standard tool already used by other companies – which enables us to see how we compare with others.

We added questions on Quality of Life at Work (QLW) and communication, which were two important issues at the time. Nowadays, this customised part of the questionnaire has evolved, featuring questions on innovation and, in 2021, on management of the Covid crisis. In 2023, we introduced questions relating to CSR and Covivio’s social commitment.

Elsa Canetti
Human Ressources Director, Covivio

How do the teams perceive the initiative? Is there a high level of engagement?

Elsa Canetti: With a response rate of 83% in 2023, a 4% increase compared with the previous survey in 2021, it’s fair to say that employees understand the value of such a survey. The results vindicate the merits of our daily efforts at European level to establish the right conditions for team engagement: proximity, trust, challenges and empowerment.  

What are the key takeaways from the 2023 survey?

Elsa Canetti: For France, this year’s survey was marked by uncertainty linked to the economic climate. Despite this, 92% of our teams are still optimistic about Covivio’s future (94% across Europe). 

In terms of QLW, responses to questions relating to workload, stress levels and remuneration remained very positive, as did the findings on work atmosphere, teamwork and relations with management. Overall, it is good to work at Covivio and the survey clearly highlights this, as we exceed the benchmark set by Kantar on just about every subject. 

Our main area for improvement is communication about Covivio’s future and strategic orientations. We need to strengthen existing initiatives, particularly in terms of managerial communication. We will also be paying special attention to local managers, who play a key role. 

Giovanna Ruda: In Italy, we solidified the highly positive findings already obtained in 2021. Despite the change in the macroeconomic environment, employees maintain a strong belief in the Group and are proud to be part of it.  

This positive feedback is very encouraging and motivates us to go even further in our thinking and initiatives regarding employee well-being. We also plan to continue working on the issue of work-life balance and to focus more on optimising our organisation. 

If we compare the last three surveys, the satisfaction of German employees has increased in all four areas: commitment, leadership, organisation and objectives, and strategy. We have also identified a number of areas on which we will be working in particular: the speed with which changes are being rolled out – particularly with regard to our tools – and the internal perception of our customer focus.

Uwe Becker
Head of Corporate Office, Covivio, Germany

How do you view the way work has changed in recent years? 

In recent years, we’ve witnessed an acceleration of the changes that were already underway, including work-life balance, the rise of remote working arrangements, a working environment that fosters teamwork and collaboration, etc. 

Giovanna Ruda
Chief Corporate Officer, Covivio, Italy

These phenomena are not limited to Italy, they are pan-European trends, making flexibility a keyword in the new management of work relationships. It has therefore been worthwhile to discuss perspectives with our French and German HR colleagues in order to determine a shared strategy, while remaining attentive to each country’s specificities. All this has also affected management style and corporate culture. Managers have had to adapt to a new way of working with their teams, where trust plays a key role. 

Uwe Becker: I’d say there are lots of similarities between our different countries such as remote working, the employer brand and technology-related matters.  
Obviously, despite the similarities, we have to take into account certain national specificities in our day-to-day activities. 

Elsa Canetti: The flexibility of working hours and workspaces is a genuine revolution. And we are moving towards a more inclusive work environment, with the challenge of taking individuality into account to customise career paths.  

As for the major changes to working methods, particularly digitisation, we will have to train and support employees so that we can continue to have organisations that generate and integrate change quickly – and smoothly! There’s also the issue of the ageing workforce: can we come up with new career paths to deal with that? How can we tackle the issue of intergenerational relations? These are just some of the issues we’re going to have to rapidly address, which also represent opportunities for Covivio’s future.