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The Facilitation Impact Awards (FIA) honours organisations that have used facilitation to achieve a measurable and positive impact as well as the facilitator(s) who worked with them. More about FIA
Silver award
Corporate University of Russian Railways
Moscow, Russia

Improving social welfare for employees and retirees


Over 3,000 senior and regional managers and employees who supervise social and human resource activities for Russian Railways learned about best practices and facilitation; they used this learning to collaborate across functional areas to develop solutions.

The Social Development Department initiated a crowdsourcing contest, “PRO-people”, to find new social solutions for child development, healthy lifestyle, sports, housing policy and social partnerships. More than 800 employees participated in the contest and the results will be used to develop future social policy initiatives.

Forty-seven projects to improve the social welfare of over 600,000 employees and 500,000 non-working retirees have been developed. The project covers more than 2 million people including families of Russian Railways employees and non-working retirees.

Key results include:

  • partnership programmes with third-party organisations that provide recreation activities for children resulted in more than 10,000 children participating in health camps during the pandemic
  • more than 70,000 people participated in wellness services and programmes, a 20% increase from the previous year
  • a “Healthy Lifestyle Week” was held with 700 events attended by 150,000 people – this initiative is expected to increase employee involvement in sport by 10%
  • a social tourism initiative was launched which is expected to increase the occupancy of Russian Railways social facilities by up to 85%
  • in the first half of 2021, the level of customer satisfaction with automated services increased by 15% compared to the corresponding period in the previous year.

Context and challenges

The Corporate University of Russian Railways (the University) was founded in 2010 by JSC Russian Railways. The University provides business education for the employees of the Russian Railways Holding. The University carries out more than 250 programmes aimed at developing various competencies of management. More than 360,000 learners have completed programmes since 2010. The University employs 202 people and has three campuses in Moscow.

The year 2020 became a test of the world's ability to withstand serious challenges. For Russian Railways the challenge was making large-scale changes to interactions with people to build relationships between the employees and the employer. A new approach was set out in the Human Capital Development Programme of JSC Russian Railways (the programme) which was approved in December 2020.

One of the themes in the programme, the social responsibility of the company and care for employees, is coordinated by the Social Development Department of Russian Railways (the Department).

The University faced the task of conducting, together with the Department, facilitated sessions in the 4 key areas of the programme:

  1. increasing the social well-being of employees
  2. improving the physiological well-being of employees
  3. creating conditions for spiritual and moral development
  4. digitalization of social welfare processes.

The main challenge was to quickly engage a wide range of executives and employees to improve the social well-being and working and leisure conditions for employees, their families and non-working retirees.

Key considerations for the project included:

  1. Scale – the scale of Russian Railways combined with strict deadlines for decisions to improve the well-being of employees and retirees, and the efficiency of more than 230 social facilities.
  2. Regional specifics – considering the level of economic and social development of regions, cultural and climatic characteristics, and railway facilities load.
  3. Continuity – ensuring continuity of solutions from strategic sessions at the highest level of management to regional sessions with the support of local implementations involving the consumers of social services.
  4. Hybrid format – combining strategic online and offline sessions with expert workshops, business games, microlearning to support and design business solutions that reflect current trends and best practices.

Project objectives

The goal at the highest level was to implement the programme, increasing the level of social well-being of employees and retirees of Russian Railways. The objectives were to:

  1. Develop projects to improve the social welfare of employees and non-working retirees of Russian Railways.
  2. Involve social and HR executives of different levels in inter-functional collaboration to develop solutions.
  3. Analyse problem points and develop solutions to improve the efficiency of Russian Railways social divisions and social facilities.
  4. Introduce a culture of development and management of social facilities based on modern trends and best international practices.


The University team developed and implemented a series of master classes in online and offline formats during the pandemic. The series of facilitated sessions was launched in December 2020. It included three key steps:

  1. Strategic session – Generation of project ideas. Elaboration of a strategy for the development of four key areas of social policy. Participants included top executives of the social and human resources unit.
  2. Implementation session – Idea to practice. Launched the realization of the strategy session solutions. The implementation phase of social development projects in the regional divisions of Russian Railways social unit began.
  3. Follow-up session – Analysis and refinement of solutions. This step analysed the progress of the projects started in the idea to practice session, elaborated difficulties and suggestions for improvement. The session was offline; we recreated the conditions for delivering the user experience in the form of an experiment that session participants went through. There was a business game on client-oriented approach for understanding the users of social services. The immersion into the emotions of social services users gave us the understanding how important modern approaches towards service quality at the social facilities are.

Welfare routes Corporate University of Russian Railways