When employees call the 24/7 Magna Hotline on an anonymous basis to report a wide range of workplace issues, they connect with investigators on 11 global teams who are dedicated to resolving their concerns.
Here are some of the people on the other end of the line and how they strive to be a positive force for their coworkers:
Patricia Newman: Respecting and Acknowledging Emotions
A framed thank-you note from a satisfied Hotline caller hangs on the wall near Patricia Newman’s desk. She says it’s “the most touching thing” she’s received in nearly 25 years as a Hotline investigator, and something that she often glances at when she answers the phone.
“My job is to listen and give the caller the opportunity to provide their side of the story,” said Newman. “There’s always an opportunity to help them and make Magna, the plant or the situation better.”
Newman and her Hotline partner Rob Eastwood field 80-120 calls a month from their coverage area, which includes Canada, the U.S. and Brazil. The two have worked together for 19 years.
Prior to coming to Magna, Newman worked in real estate and in administration for Encyclopedia Brittanica. She started at Magna’s Cam Slide division in Newmarket, Ontario, in April 1986, where she spent 11 years and served in a number of roles, including as human resources manager. At Cam Slide, she met her husband Peter, now a retired Magna electrician.
Her tenure at Magna predates the Magna Charter and Hotline. Newman applied for the job as a Hotline investigator in 1997, after watching Magna “evolve in terms of programs and directions.”
“A Hotline investigator’s job is to balance the needs of the business with the needs of the employee,” she said. “A caller reaches out to us and presents their version of events. Then, if required, we ask management to present their view. At that point, we start to dissect and ask ‘What are the issues? Where do you have commonality?’ Then we go back and talk to the employee.”
Hotline callers sometimes ask specifically for Newman when they have a concern. When asked to describe her telephone style, she says: “I just try to be reassuring. I tell people this is not a one-time opportunity. We’ll talk again. You have to respect people’s emotions and acknowledge them.”
Part of Newman’s job is training new Hotline investigators. Her best advice to them: “Be open-minded until you have all the information. Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t assume anything.”
When she’s off the clock, Newman, the mother of Andrew, 30, and Jessica, 25, likes to read mystery stories and stream Netflix, two things that help her to unwind and “try to keep everything in stride.”
Rob Eastwood: A Justice- Minded Problem Solver
Hotline callers sometimes comment on Rob Eastwood’s calming voice, a characteristic that serves him well in a job that requires “a counselor part and an investigative part.” As someone who has taken Hotline calls for 20 years, Eastwood describes himself as “a justice-minded problem solver.”
“Listening is a really important piece of the job,” he said. “It may be the most important piece. But you also have to ask questions and get to the bottom of the issue. We determine if a person has been treated fairly in accordance with the Employee’s Charter. That’s our job in a nutshell.”
The rewarding part of his work is “giving people the opportunity to be heard when they have a problem – and potentially solving that problem,” he said.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Hotline investigators often worked remotely. Eastwood took calls from his home office, sometimes with his rescue cat Honey settled into his lap. He begins each day by checking the previous day’s calls from employees taking advantage of the free resource. At 9 a.m, Eastwood and his Hotline partner Patricia Newman meet to discuss cases. Partners serve as a built-in support system for each other.
“You’ve got to find somebody that you can bounce stuff off of who will give you a different perspective,” Eastwood explained. “It can’t just be my viewpoint. Sense of humor is huge, too. We’re often dealing with heavy subject matters, and Patricia and I try to keep each other in check.”
Eastwood’s voice is the centerpiece of his profession as well as his downtime. He is a singer in a heavy metal rock band called Witch Crusade and was a singer in an REM tribute band in Ontario. He is a music lover with a collection of 600 vinyl albums, and has been teaching himself to play bass and ukulele by watching YouTube videos.
Prior to Magna, he worked in record stores and for a record distributor before switching careers to work for the Toronto Board of Education, where he became a human resources manager working with unionized staff and trade unions.
“What I do is not so much about the sound of my voice,” he said. “It’s helping callers feel better. You can talk to people in a way that calms them down and de-escalates the situation. Lots of time a caller will say ‘I was really upset, but I feel a lot better now.’”
Norns Zhou: An Emphasis on Professionalism
The person on the other end of the Magna Hotline in China is Norns Zhou, a detail- oriented investigator who puts the emphasis on listening and professionalism.
Zhou, the Magna regional human resources program manager in Asia, added the Hotline to her responsibilities in October 2020. Her duties also include HR operations, program implementation and promotion in China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
Veteran Hotline investigators Patricia Newman and Rob Eastwood trained Zhou and provide feedback on cases during monthly meetings.
“They share their experience with me, since I’m new to the position,” Zhou said. “The most important thing is keeping everything highly confidential during investigations. When employees call the Hotline, I remind them that we have an Open Door Process and they can talk directly with their supervisors. Concerns are often resolved at that point, since Magna has such an open culture.”
Zhou joined Magna in 2017 after a high-school friend who worked at the company urged her to apply. Before coming to Magna, Zhou earned a bachelor’s degree in Japanese with a minor in public relations from Donghua University in Shanghai and began her HR career at IKEA China and DHL.
“I’m growing in my job and getting more responsibility, such as the Hotline and conducting Employee Opinion Surveys,” she said. “It’s challenging work with lots of opportunity to communicate with different divisions and departments to help them work together. It’s been a great experience in terms of personal development and my HR career.”
Eliza Mao, the Magna human resources director in Asia, inspires Zhou in her approach to her work and handling Hotline calls.
“Eliza always tells us to talk to her directly if we have different ideas or opinions,” Zhou said. “The Magna open culture also means teamwork between teams is very important, from our front-line employees to the Hotline investigators.”
In her spare time, Zhou enjoys attending concerts and listening to music.
“I love music, everything from Japan Rock and Brit-pop to the passion and power of Nirvana,” she said.