Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Hellmann HR team instills values and behaviors
Article Type: HR at work From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 7, Issue 4
Short case studies that demonstrate best practice in HR
In a service provision industry such as logistics it is extremely important to keep employees motivated in order to maintain high morale, staff retention and solidarity. Ensuring this happens over a number of offices across the UK can prove difficult, with the risk of a variation of messages being communicated to the workforce from the different branches.
Global logistics firm, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics UK, was faced with this challenge in 2006 when it decided to introduce a concept that would promote and encourage teamwork, partnership and employee engagement – all of which are extremely important for Hellmann as a business and for its everyday working practices. Consequently, Hellmann’s HR team devised a way of helping the business to meet these objectives and to communicate with staff with the development of its own “values and behaviors” (V&B) concept. This initial concept eventually led to a dedicated team of HR personnel touring Hellmann UK’s nine offices to offer a V&B workshop that would deliver one consistent message to all its employees.
Going back to basics
As an organization, Hellmann decided to put a number of statements together that illustrated the aims and objectives of the overall company. However, these were really a reflection of what the company felt to be important on a global level. So the HR team decided to run “ear to the ground” sessions across Hellmann’s UK offices, allowing 50 percent of the workforce to give their opinions on a number of everyday working issues.
With all the information collated, Hellmann needed to create a link between what the employees wanted and what Hellmann as an organization needed to achieve. This was the starting point for developing the V&B concept.
V&B includes four core values and four core behaviors for each value. As an example, the core value of true partnerships has the four behaviors of actively listen, share, feedback constructively and involve. These core messages have created an ideal base for developing, coordinating and communicating other HR initiatives.
The challenge of retaining a single message
With the original concept launched in early 2006, Hellmann found that as new people joined the team they wanted to engage with V&B, but didn’t always fully understand what the concept was or how it originated. Subsequently, workshops were designed to deliver a clear and consistent message in a three-hour session that would be delivered by the central team to each of the branch offices. The aim was to explain the V&B concept, the HR initiatives that have been created because of it and how each employee could contribute and therefore make a difference to the future of Hellmann.
Before Hellmann decided to deliver the V&B workshop, the V&B concept was communicated to each office by the branch managers through team activities. Each branch has a variation in its management strategies and so communicated the V&B concept using its own interpretation. The HR team was concerned that this was not a suitable way to pass the message on, especially when one of the resulting concerns of staff was that Hellmann had a “them and us” culture from office to office, office to manager, product to product and function to function.
Therefore, the overall reason for conducting the workshops was to get one consistent message across to all employees. With everyone getting the same information, including managers, staff would be encouraged to instill the core V&B’s into their everyday working practices that in turn would benefit the level of service given to the customer.
The solution to creating consistency
The V&B workshops ran over a three-month period and involved the central HR team visiting Hellmann’s nine offices throughout the UK. The workshop program was devised by the HR team to incorporate all the relevant information on the V&B project, but also included interactive workshop activities. These activities were an extremely useful aid for both the workforce and the HR team as they gave a further insight into everyone’s thoughts and opinions on the project/concept.
It was felt that the workshop was the best way to reach everyone in the company and ensure the consistency of the message. The management team supported the idea and arranged the groups to ensure a full departmental mix in each group so operations didn’t suffer, and everyone was able to attend. Most importantly, every employee who participated in the workshop was asked to write down an aim, target or promise (based around the core V&Bs) and put this into action in the future. Overall, the workshops proved to be a great success.
Developing new HR initiatives around V&B
Since V&B began Hellmann has also introduced a range of new schemes, including a “HaveYourSay” staff questionnaire, “StaffPerformanceFeedback” and the “PassionAwards.” The HR team also wanted to explain and address these in the workshop. The questionnaire is an extremely practical way of finding out employees’ feedback on a regular basis. It also shows staff that the V&B concept is not a one-off project but is meant to organically grow alongside the business. Hellmann uses the same questions each time to maintain consistency and these are based around the core values and behaviors. The results are collated every six months and it is a great way of seeing a quantitative picture.
HaveYourSay has been very beneficial with a range of new ideas generated from the results. For instance, when Hellmann received the May 2006 results, one of the lowest outcomes was in “recognizing achievements within the organization.” For this reason, Hellmann’s management formulated the PassionAwards.
Run every quarter, the PassionAwards give employees the chance to nominate a fellow colleague who they feel deserves to be recognized for their hard work and dedication. The entries are judged “blindly” by a selected panel of staff under the four core value categories. Winners receive £250 along with the recognition of receiving the award.
Hellmann team comes on board
Since the launch of these new initiatives, the company has seen a steady increase in HaveYourSay responses and nominations for the PassionAwards. The greatest increase comes from the PassionAwards nominations with 10 percent of Hellmann’s entire workforce getting nominated in the last set of awards. Quite a few nominations were for the people who had fulfilled the promises they had made to each other during the workshop session, proving that the workshop had actually made an impact.
Looking at the whole picture, Hellmann has found that any activity that helps engage the workforce helps the business. Labor turnover tends to reduce and quality increase. For instance, Hellmann’s European Roadfreight product recently exceeded the quality targets set and saw labor turnover reduce by around nine percent since September 2007. It is normally expected to drop around four percent in the final quarter.
An evolving concept
The workshops are only a communication tool and in themselves just delivered the messages Hellmann wanted to get across. The awareness generated by what exactly fits into the V&B jigsaw is the essential substance of the program and associated initiatives. The solutions are there, it is just a question of creating positive pressure on the managers to use the tools available to them, which in turn will create higher morale within the workforce.
Hellmann designed the workshop to illustrate that V&B is a core tool that Hellmann uses in the business. It is a balanced scorecard approach to measuring the key areas that Hellmann employees highlighted as needing focus in the initial ear to the ground sessions. The workshops and V&B concept remain ongoing and will continue to evolve, constituting a key part of the UK induction program that is to be introduced later in 2008 and forming part of Hellmann’s TalentPool program. This program is designed to develop the talent evident at desk level and prepare people for future promotions and development within the company. Each TalentPool student participates in seven development modules, ranging from Hellmann-specific management system modules to finance modules. They are set course work after each module and are marked to determine an overall “TalentPool Top Achiever.” Each team member receives a financial reward for successful completion and the top achiever is offered the opportunity to undertake an internship within one of Hellmann’s foreign offices. Finally, the emphasis is to shift towards the Corporate DNA – Hellmann’s global V&B concept – as this is felt to be a natural progression from the UK-developed V&B concept.
David RichardsDavid Richards is HR manager, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics UK.
About the author
David Richards is HR manager for Hellmann Worldwide Logistics UK. He has been with the company for four years and previously was senior HR officer at Benchmark Electronics. David Richards can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org