How to Be an Attractive Employer

Mark Phillips
HR Director
JTI Marketing & Sales

Leadership is an integral part of any company’s genetic makeup. Regardless of whether it is the corporation’s desire to become No. 1 on the market, leadership is the result of actions undertaken by people. Ensuring that your people are best equipped to make these leadership decisions requires robust people management strategies.

When setting management strategies, it is often easy to assess the external market, to observe trends among your competitors and blindly follow. But this will only give half the picture. It will tell you what the market is doing and may even tell you what factors are important to these companies (e.g. salary levels, car policies, etc.). It may even give you the insight to what values these corporations aspire to. But it will not necessarily tell you what is important to your employees, what attract them to your organization and, even more importantly, what will keep them motivated and ready to strive for leadership at your company.

In April 2009, JTI conducted the an employee-engagement survey to understand what motivates and drives our employees.

The results of the survey showed us that the most important factors influencing employees’ engagement, motivation and shared values were talent management, organizational direction and change, and leadership. With this knowledge we can say with certainty that leadership is important both for the company’s success and our employees who look at the company’s market position as a point of pride.

Leadership is more than a statement of intent; it forms the core of our corporate mission. But to achieve this takes more than a mission statement. It requires the clear understanding that leadership is only achieved when you have strong, committed and demanding management whom employees trust and are willing to follow.

Building a quality managerial team, capable of leading the organization into the future does not happen overnight. It starts with robust recruitment strategy. We operate a program called “Recruitment Excellence” that specifies our recruitment standards and internal promotion guidelines. We hire employees based on well-tested assessment processes to ensure that we are hiring the best talent with the capacity to grow into future leaders. Once employed, we encourage our people to demonstrate leadership through personal initiative and excellence, to openly express their opinions and take personal responsibility for their work.

An extension of this program is our policy on promotion, which leverages the quality of the recruited individuals, by committing managers to promote from within wherever possible.

This is only possible if you are sure of the quality of the people you employ in the first place. This in turn, ensures employees know and respect the company’s management, understanding that their managers have experienced the same career path as they currently aspire to.

At the same time, managers understand and share the problems of the ordinary employees and act in their interests. It was revealed in the survey that 91 percent of all surveyed employees responded positively to the following question: “I think that the company’s management cares about employees’ well-being.”

But employees do not develop simply through tenure of employment. These sourcing and promotion processes must be supported by relevant and robust employee development programs. One of such development tools can become Corporate University that allows all employees to gain additional skills through study to supplement the experience that they gain “on the job.”

So, now you have sourced quality employees, promoted the best of them, and further developed their skills in order to add value to the company. So what is left to do?

Well, clearly, the most important thing to do now is to keep them! And this cannot be achieved unless you have compensation and benefits that are well structured to reward your best employees who in the long run will drive and protect your company’s leadership position.

Thus, people sourcing, development and retention of key talent, helps to create a strong and reliable team of capable managers to lead the corporation to greater heights. We are proud to share the results of the employees-engagement survey. Our employees’ satisfaction with leadership processes is 21 percent higher than in other global FMCG companies (according to Towers Perrin independent researcher numbers).

Thus, influencing employees’ engagement is achieved through three main drivers: talent management, organizational direction and change, and leadership. This set can vary from one company to another. To truly know what drives your employees to succeed, you will have to ask them!