Milan, 12 April 2017. “We believe in human relationships. We believe in people and their wellbeing,” explains Ali Reza Arabnia, the president and CEO of Geico. “It is only when rationality and creativity merge that unimaginable results are achieved. We’re focusing on people – understanding their expectations, respecting their differences and nurturing their passions in order to create a healthy, stimulating working environment.” These are the principles at the heart of Geico, a global leader in the design and construction of bespoke automised car painting systems.
Geico believes that people are the most precious resource there is, in that they represent the irreplaceable knowledge and conscience of the company and therefore everything must be done to ensure they can reach their full potential.
Geico, which has always been renowned for the innovative spirit that characterises its every business decision, is also ahead of the curve when it comes to physical and mental wellbeing. It has launched a series of activities focused on ensuring that its employees are able to work in the most positive and welcoming environment possible and, more generally, enjoy excellent quality of life.
Among these measures, the stand-out initiative is the most recent and – perhaps – the most innovative: Focus Persona. The project is designed to encourage employees to “reflect on themselves” and improve their relationship with the world around them, with Geico providing all staff members with access to a “Philosophical Counsellor” during paid working hours.
By introducing the counsellor, the company is offering all its employees the chance to take better care of themselves by broadening their understanding of the relationship between themselves and reality. The sessions will be opportunities for private dialogue, exchange and discussion, during which the counsellor will listen attentively and allow the employee to express themselves without fear of judgement, speaking only to clarify points and analyse concepts.
During the sessions with the counsellor, the employees will explore personal and professional issues and analyse feelings and emotions in a rational manner. The aim of this is to construct a vision of the world which matches the employees’ values and to help promote actions and behaviours in line with how employees see themselves.
The key concepts here are the importance of self-respect and the human need to make sense of their experiences, and indeed a philosophical counsellor views humans as the central point of a network of relations and experiences which forge and change us.
The Focus Persona project aims to put people first, recognising that all people are individuals with possibilities and characteristics that can be used to support their development and improvement within the work environment. Ultimately, the initiative is about having faith in people and their potential. During individual meetings, time is seen as a valuable resource that can be used for self-improvement. Philosophical counselling believes that positive relations in the place of work derive from the balance that a person finds within themselves and can apply to all walks of life, including colleague relationships. In this respect, investing in people is a big plus for the company, which will grow through its employees and their individual attributes, in a virtuous cycle of faith, recognition and respect.
“Working with Geico represents a fantastic professional opportunity, because the overall objective of properly valuing people and their skills is totally in sync with the aims of philosophical counselling,” explains philosophical counsellor Elena Belladelli. “The philosophical counsellor supports, guides and develops people’s potential – objectives that are mirrored by the company’s values. It’s about looking beyond what’s directly around you and broadening people’s horizons. My experience with the company has been very positive and the human relationships you create are the most stimulating and rewarding part of the job. At Geico, there is a constant onus on self-improvement, on growth.”
The philosophical counsellor is available to anyone wishing to confront thoughts or experiences that may be causing them distress, work through existential doubts or unproductive thoughts, adopt a practical approach to their immediate environment, take informed life choices, explore their vision of the world, analyse the compatibility between their beliefs and their lifestyle and promote change.
Through philosophical reflection, this type of counselling is about pursuing a deeper understanding in order to shine a light on the true meaning of things. It aims to explore the relationship between thoughts and to place them in order of meaning, emphasising that the rational faculties of an individual are a tool for analysis and comprehension.
Clearly, the decision to launch the Focus Persona project is part of Geico’s wider strategy of placing greater emphasis on individuals.
As part of this, in 2013 the company opened the Giardino dei Pensieri di Laura [Laura’s Garden for Thinking], which Ali Reza Arabnia dedicated to his wife Laura and their extended family: the Geico employees. All initiatives dedicated to employee wellbeing are born and nurtured within this space. Indeed, as well as being a place to spend time together and for physical and mental regeneration, the Giardino dei Pensieri di Laura is the embodiment of the president’s business philosophy and the realisation of a long-held dream.
The extreme care Geico takes in looking after its most precious resource has been recognised on a national level, with the company named as one of the top ten medium-sized companies in Italy by the Great Place to Work® Institute.