Silvana Sbabo helps a customer at the Vicenza Exchange.

Italy Exchanges Easing Transition for Returning Workforce

Vicenza Exchange managers practice physical distancing during a meeting about new onboarding measures.

Associates who have been away from work while self-isolating or for other reasons may come back to find new regulations and procedures in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With safety guidelines and recommendations continually evolving, the Italy Consolidated Exchange management put together mini onboarding to bring returning associates up to speed so they can continue serving the military community.

“Things have been changing day to day, and it’s stressful to come back to work and feel like you’re playing catch-up,” said Vicenza Main Store Manager Cindy Brown, who started the initiative. “A mini training session for associates who have been away for a little while helps them to have all the knowledge and resources they need to continue providing our Warfighters with exceptional service.”

As some facilities have temporarily closed or reduced hours, associates may be transitioned to a new store. These associates also receive training so they can best support service members and their families.

Silvana Sbabo helps a customer at the Vicenza Exchange.

The training usually takes about 30 minutes and covers COVID-19-related changes, such as updated safety procedures and requirements.

Associates tour the store and administrative offices to note any restricted areas of the store and occupancy limits in breakrooms, locker rooms and stockrooms. (The Exchange is operating in accordance with an Italian decree requiring certain items and product categories be restricted.)

Associates also learn about all the safety and cleaning procedures. The training ensures that associates all have contact information for their supervisors and managers and that their own contact information is up to date.

Associates can ask questions throughout the training as well.

“Despite all that’s going on, the focus of the training is still on the Exchange mission: serving those who serve,” Brown said. “We want to offer our associates all the support and resources to make their jobs easier so they can focus on serving the best customers in the world.”

As Italy has been especially hard hit by COVID-19, the Italy Consolidated Exchange has taken the Vicenza mini-onboarding model and applied it at Exchanges throughout the area.

About 25 associates who have been out during the pandemic, as well as associates from other facilities and vendor partners, are benefiting from this training.

“This is a great process to help our associates avoid the stress and anxiety when they’re first returning to work,” said Hardlines Supervisor Alessandra Picone, who held the first training session. “The associates I held the session with appreciated that I explained everything and answered questions. It helps our associates feel we’re doing all we can to take care of them.”

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