During the years of recession, the Greek tourism industry achieved impressive goals and was able to uphold the fragile Greek economy. More specifically, the Greek tourism industry managed to increase the income up to 40%, while at the same period the country’s GDP was falling up to 25%! According to Social Security Organization’s available data, the tourism industry has added up to 43% job openings and up to 17% fees from 2012 to 2015, while the other economy sectors were varying in much lower percentages, some at negative scales.
Although the Greek tourism industry is flourishing however, the human capital responsible for this success is in general miserable. The labor exploitation cases in the Greek tourism industry are following the revenue-records of the industry’s experts. The professionals working in the tourism industry are working long exhausting hours with low earnings.
It should be noted that exploitation in the tourism industry comes in a lot of shapes; job insecurity, excessive workload, stagnant fees, delayed payment of accruals and violation of provisions for the protection of health and work of employees. According to the German magazine Spiegel, the percentage of work accidents, between 2009 and 2016 had raised up to 580%!
In 2018, we at Horizon decided to take our game to the next level. We are our people and even though the working conditions in our company have always been an example, we stepped up and took it even further. First of all, we moved to a radical refurbishment of the offices’ spatial organization template, espousing the open plan template and various other modernization acts. The office spaces, according to Myerson & Ross, are “central social landmarks, which do not only affect the economic growth, but also culture, lifestyle, the environment and the image of the urban landscape”. The spaces are unified with clean-cut decoration, the personal office is free of objects, without separating interventions. This allocation plan reflects a company’s low power distance hierarchy. At the same time, rotation is both allowed and encouraged while at many cases working remotely is also an option.
Furthermore, we also made the choice to invest in the human resources and to strengthen the staff relationships. To actualize and embrace these decisions, Horizon needed to establish an organizational-virtue oriented environment. Those initiatives included hiring a full-time organizational psychologist, launching an annual educational budget for all the employees, investing in team-building activities, and establishing flexible remote work.
At this moment we are proud to say that our work climax is one of a kind, our employees are happy and proud to be working in our organization, and the effort to become better has just begun!
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace (D&I) is a term you’ve probably heard several times in the corporate world, as its benefits have become increasingly clear. Workplace diversity is understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people including those:
- of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations
- of differences in education, personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases
Therefore, diversity is not just about race. In fact, there is a misconception that diversity is all about hiring, yet it is more about understanding and celebrating the differences within a workplace. And this is a matter of organizational culture.
Leaders may define the company culture, but everyone else defines the subculture. Culture, therefore, is based on the group’s social learning as a unit over the course of its history. It is an outcome of the group learning experiences. Once a group acquires a history, it also acquires a culture. Culture is, therefore, a hidden system that influences employees’ behavior in the workplace, and the social glue that holds an organization together. Deeply embedded cultures change slowly over time, yet the people involved do transform and change.
Horizon believes a strong diversity and inclusion strategy can help the organization attract top talent and drive innovative results. Our scientific personnel is specialized in Culture Transformation, Business Coaching and Positive Psychology and help us acknowledge that bringing in a mix of people from all walks of life simply creates a better environment.
Horizon’s D&I actions
Although we are a Greek company based in Athens, we do make an interesting cultural mix; we have Spanish & Latino, French, Italian and Cyprian team members. Therefore, we have established English as our formal language and we all communicate in English, so that nobody feels excluded or uncomfortable.
The proportion of women in senior management roles is very high; our Directors are all women, our Accounting Department’s leader is a woman and the Top Management Team consists of three women and only one man, Mr. Aristides Tsaldaris, our CEO & President.
The training approach
We encourage and provide educational opportunities to our executives, according to their needs; in 2019 alone, Horizon funded both leadership and conflict management courses for our senior management executives, a time-management course for our junior levels, executive secretary courses and also financing courses for our accounting department. Moreover, we have fully funded English and French courses for the executives handling the following markets and a Computer Course for all company members.
We also take pride in our wide ranges of age; the oldest employee is 67 years old, while the youngest one is 25 years old and our sub-teams always consist of people of different age groups, in order to get the best out of this mix and different thinking styles.
The recruitment protocol our HR follows is very formal and does not include any inappropriate questions for the candidates, such as questions about their marital status, a potential pregnancy, their sexual orientation, their religion and any disability issues.
We are aware that discrimination in the workplace comes in various other forms, therefore our HR Department makes clear what the available wage ranges are, according to seniority, experience, academic standing and any other factor may possibly intervene. For this reason, our recruitment process includes psychometric tools, oral and written language tests, along with computer skills assessment. The best scorers do have a chance to get interviewed by our top management members.
In addition, our HR Department conducts an annual performance assessment circle, by delivering self-evaluation performance reviews and by delivering evaluation performance reviews for colleagues with a vertical relationship. This way, promotions, salary raise and bonuses are always clearly justified; equally-qualified employees in the same position belong in the same wage level and these practices help us create a radically transparent work culture.
Denying compensation or benefits, disrupting the use of company facilities, denial of training opportunities, or even exclusion and isolation by colleagues have no space in Horizon. We are strongly against mobbing, harassment and discrimination and we strive every day towards a positive safety culture. All necessary measures that need to be taken are always horizontal and never vertical, putting equity above equality.
We understand the value of an organization where people feel welcome and accepted. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is an essential business practice that we do prioritize, building environments that help our employees thrive.
Green… is the new blue
Our Sensitivity isn’t of course limited internally. To explore the applicability of Horizon’s sustainable practices in corporate event management and operations in relation to the coordination of all the different stakeholders, both from the provider’s and the customer’s perspective, we first need to define how sustainable development is applied in the event sector.
For starts, the concept can be captured through three main pillars (economic, sociocultural, environmental) as follows:
• Green Energy Destinations. Every destination has a unique energy profile, therefore some regions need more resources than others by default.
• To choose venues & restaurants with low energy consumption. To prefer venues that adopt energy-wise practices and equipment.
• Eco-friendly transportation. To use bicycles, hybrid / electrical vehicles, segways or even walkable options for the guests.
• To provide sustainable solutions in every step of the event, i.e. solar chargers, flower pots as decoration and souvenirs, bamboo straws etc.
When planning and operating a sustainable event, there are of course both benefits and drawbacks entailed in the process, with the most common benefits being: less waste and lower carbon footprint, satisfaction of the consumer demand and good publicity and the most common drawbacks being on the other hand the fact that going green takes time & dedication, the initial costs are most of the times high and the research of new vendors is usually required.
Having said that, Horizon is once more leading the way towards greener options since the sustainable practices we apply in our management and operations, are multiple:
• We have implemented policies and practices that provide a healthy, safe, inclusive and equitable work environment.
• We participate in community service programs (i.e. volunteer time in beach cleaning in Attika & donate clothing and medical equipment to Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children of Voula)
• We have established an office recycling program for used paper & batteries
• We practice energy efficiency (i.e. preferring to work in sunlit positions, to avoid excessive use of light, to use LED lights, to recycle, to use reusable cups and dishes, to prefer vendors who recycle our used water bottles etc)
• We used eco-friendly materials when we redesigned our offices.
• We use low energy lamps
• We have established a paperless policy (using only digital files)
• We replaced all PCs with laptops in order to promote remote work (which lead to less people using their cars coming to the office every morning – reducing carbon footprint)
• We bought water refrigerators and flasks for all staff (in order to reduce the use of plastic bottles)
• We have replaced all our gifts for clients (agendas, plastic magnets etc) with recycled canvas handbags
• Most of the vendors we prefer to use for decoration equipment have already shifted towards more sustainable solutions, (i.e. bamboo straws, recycled packaging and materials.
For Horizon, acting proactively to protect the environment is more than just a trend; it’s our mission, totally aligned with our culture and company values alongside corporate social responsibility, inclusivity and diversity. Our motto is ‘green is the new blue’, since we stand for a sustainable Greece full of green oriented initiatives. In order to set the example towards that direction, our goal is to have a fully sustainable building by the end of 2023.
Inspired by and following the principles of International Standards & Best Practices, Horizon has established and is operating under specific Quality Assurance Procedures according to the requirements of ISO 9001:2015, having as an ultimate goal the Continuous Improvement of the Services & Products provided to Customers as well as the Satisfaction of all interested parties.
The main principles of Horizon’s culture regarding Quality are as follows:
- The provided products & services must fully satisfy the Customer’s needs, requirements and expectations just as those are expressed explicitly in Quotations & Contracts, always in agreement with legislations, regulations & Standards
- Horizon invests in its people, recognizes their needs and provides training opportunities, in order to promote adequacy and effectiveness, maintaining a reliable Corporate Culture
- The Company emphasizes in the close collaboration with its Suppliers & Partners and recognizes them as an extension of its structure. Monitoring and evaluation of their performance is essential and continuously implemented
Therefore, and in addition to that, Horizon’s Administration is committed to the Continuous Improvement of the provided Products & Services’ Quality, implementing various organizational actions, such as:
- Identification of the requirements and needs of all Interested Parties and consideration of them in every step
- Compliance with the National & European laws and regulations related to its activity
- Identification of potential risks & opportunities related to the Company’s operational activities and taking measures to prevent / take advantage of them
- Uninterrupted Customer support as well as constructive cooperation with all partners,
- Training and promotion of personnel
- Evaluation of performance through specified objectives and KPIs
- Collection, categorization, maintenance and communication of Business Knowledge related information (e.g. client complains, non-conformities, proposals for improvement etc)
- Perform internal audits in order to evaluate performance and trace non-conformities
- Root cause analysis of all kinds of non-conformities (e.g. customer / other stakeholder’s complaints, procedural deviations etc) as well as implementation of corrective / preventive actions and review
- Provision of the necessary resources in order to achieve the above.
Horizon’s Administration will periodically review the effectiveness of the above through organized Management Reviews.
In order to support the implementation of the above, Horizon’s Administration has defined a Quality Assurance Manager with specific responsibilities, which include the maintenance and further development as well as the surveillance of the implementation of the Company’s Quality Assurance Procedures, tuning up all the executives and personnel involved in operations related to Quality, as described in the Company’s Procedures, Work Instructions, Policies and Job Descriptions.
If you noticed a Quality deviation regarding Horizon’s operation or have a proposal for improvement or complaint, we warmly invite you to discuss it with us! You can reach our Quality Department directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .