Gavin Flynn

Director of HR Technology and Efficiency at Danone North America, Danone

Supernova Award Category: 

Future of Work: Human Capital Management

The Organization: 

Danone North America is a leading North American consumer-packaged goods company with approximately 6,000 employees across the United States and Canada. The company is built on four businesses: Essential Dairy and Plant-Based Products, Waters, Early Life Nutrition and Medical Nutrition. The first of which represents their largest category, home of popular products like Silk soymilk, Dannon yogurt, Horizon Organic dairy, and more.

Danone prides itself on its “One Planet. One Health” vision that reflects a strong belief that the health of people and the health of the planet are interconnected. In line with this commitment, the company is a Certified B Corporation in North America, demonstrating their joint societal and profit-driven motives.

The Problem: 

With the global spread of COVID-19, supply chains for essential goods such as food were put in jeopardy. Danone’s team worked tirelessly to ensure not only that access to their products was uninterrupted, but also that their front-line workers were taken care of - operating under the belief that crises like the pandemic show an organization’s true colors. For a Certified B Corporation like Danone, achieving both was crucial to success. After all, Danone’s front-line workers were doing a critical job, making sure everyone in North America could eat.

The Solution: 

To ensure their workforce could operate safely and efficiently in this new normal, Danone identified the key areas in which they needed to leverage Dayforce to track, manage, and support its people. The first step was to implement premium pay for front-line workers by building off of the payroll system already in place. Next, the company enhanced its tracking of absenteeism at plants in order to make proactive decisions surrounding production. Danone also created a safety net for its affected workers, implementing new time-off programs as well as Ceridian’s on-demand pay solution, Dayforce Wallet, to bolster the financial security of its staff.

The Results: 

Danone’s first priority was increasing front-line worker pay to ensure they were fairly compensated, showing the company’s values in action. They describe how the agility of Dayforce aided this effort:

“We used what we had to create a shift differential at the pay policy level that awarded the 15% premium in under 12 hours. This is what's brilliant about Dayforce, there's a lot of ability to copy and paste. Take something similar, make it into what you need, and you're up and running.”

Next, Danone faced the need to further monitor absenteeism in their plants, which was formerly tracked on a monthly basis. Using the OData functionality in Dayforce, Danone was able to create a real-time on-demand absenteeism dashboard to foresee any major changes and inform production decisions, doing their part to keep supply chains open and flowing.

Lastly, Danone increased the flexibility of its time-off and payroll policies. Because Danone has many different unions within its network, time-off changes are often complex. Using the time-off and leave engines within Dayforce, their team was able to make the change by repurposing code, similar to the earlier payroll example. This granted high-risk employees and caregivers the time away from work they needed. For added flexibility, Danone piloted Dayforce Wallet, allowing a selected test-group of employees to access their wages as soon as they were earned rather than wait for a bimonthly paycheck.


With the implementation of premium front-line pay, Danone has awarded more than $4.5 million dollars in pay in recognition of the 1.14 million hours of work essential workers put in to ensure the food supply chain keeps operating strong throughout the pandemic.

Before the creation of the OData dashboard within Dayforce, measuring absenteeism had been a manual task incorporating data from various sources. Since monitoring has been fully automated, the reporting monthly time savings is over 8 hours per manufacturing site. Additionally, manufacturing leaders are able to make proactive decisions, no longer relying on data that was historically available as a look back.

As for the policy changes regarding time-off, employees exposed to COVID-19 and caregivers were able to take the time away as needed. Following public health guidance to isolate following potential exposure, 369 employees across the organization were allowed a combined 13,269 hours of time-off, a $317,667 investment. Thankfully, only a small fraction of these employees tested positive and all are recovering well. Also, the safety net time-off program allowed 363 front-line employees to take 3,315 hours (a $87,169 investment) to care for children or isolate due to their own (or a family member’s) serious health condition.

Finally, Danone piloted Dayforce Wallet among 56 registered users (a 23 percent enrollment rate) with plans to expand to more plant sites and its corporate population in July.

The Technology: 

Danone uses the comprehensive cloud platform Dayforce to combine core HR, payroll, tax, workforce management in a single application. Using big data, the platform analyzes and predicts workforce trends allowing the company to take a proactive approach. The end result is an intelligent, compliant, and effective system that’s always available to managers. The company took steps to encourage financial wellness among employees this year by implementing on-demand pay with Dayforce Wallet.

Disruptive Factor: 

At the outset of the pandemic, Danone acted with agility and care for its employees by immediately instating a 15% pay increase for its front-line workers. This is no simple task, and the importance of which should not be understated. Using the innovative and modern Dayforce technology, Danone was able to implement this change in a quick and dynamic manner in under 12 hours. Using the OData functionality in Dayforce, Danone is also able to actively monitor absenteeism in their plants (which used to be done on a bi-monthly basis) creating a real-time on-demand absenteeism dashboard to foresee any major changes and inform production decisions, doing their part to keep supply chains open and flowing. Both of these initiatives are game changers for employees and managers alike, both challenging the status quo in terms of typical workforce processes. Further, Danone continues to push the status quo within the manufacturing industry by piloting Dayforce Wallet, Ceridian’s industry-first on-demand pay digital wallet solution. By testing and planning to implement Dayforce Wallet, Danone exhibits its forward-thinking mindset by prioritizing employee financial wellness amidst the pandemic, maintaining its position as an innovator in the industry.

Shining Moment: 

Danone’s CHRO told HR leadership that the company CEO would soon announce a 15% per hour premium to frontline employees starting the day self-isolation orders went into effect. As payroll was scheduled to process Monday and it was already Friday afternoon, the team needed a quick and automated solve. The flexibility of the Dayforce system made it possible to accommodate this change. Flynn assembled an action team, and employees received their paychecks in the correct amount by Monday.

About Danone

Dedicated to bringing health through food to as many people as possible, Danone is a leading global food & beverage company building on health-focused and fast-growing categories: Essential Dairy & Plant-Based, Waters and Specialized Nutrition. Danone aims to inspire healthier and more sustainable eating practices, in line with its ‘One Planet. One Health’ vision.