HR Summit: Your employees are your brand ambassadors


A company’s values, having a social media policy in place, and employees being your customers, were a few of the discussions held at the Future of HR Summit in Boksburg, Gauteng.

HR Summit employees Ian Dury
Ian Dury of Kyocera was on a panel speaking about “Digital Revolution” at the Future of HR Summit. Dury spoke about automation of administration processes such as filling in leave forms. (Image: Melissa Javan)

Melissa Javan
Your employees are your brand ambassadors, McDonald’s CEO Greg Solomon told delegates at the Future of HR Summit.

The conference explored the transformation of human resources in the business environment, forecast trends for the coming year, shared innovative approaches to overcoming challenges and discussed methods of employee engagement in the digital age. It was held on 19 and 20 July in Boksburg, Gauteng.

Topics under discussion included “Mobile talent sourcing: what does it mean for your business?” and “Unpacking the 2017 Global Human Capital Trends”.

Solomon’s topic was “Guidelines to global success – a McDonald’s case study”.
Solomon said out of 11,500 employees in his business, it lost about 2,000 people every year. It was important to treat employees well – if not, they would tell their families and friends, especially children, about their bad experiences. “Your people are your future customers.”

When he spoke about a company’s values, Solomon challenged the audience by asking: “What is the one thing in your organisation that everyone can get right?” McDonald’s focus, for example, was quality, service and cleanliness.

Equal happiness was important, he said. In 2016, he told restaurant owners they would not get bonuses. “We did make a deal with them that if they met their KPIs [key performance indicators], they would win a six-day trip on a ship to Mauritius. Out of 170 restaurant owners, 120 met their KPIs and went on the cruise to Mauritius.”

There were 250 McDonald’s outlets in South Africa, said Solomon, who called it a “people business”. Of that amount, 74% were open 24/7, although he was wary about these hours and put them to the restaurant owners.

“We used to close at 23:00, and then employees would be finished at 00:00. They would then arrive at home around 01:00. So we had people saying ‘I’m struggling with this late shift.'” But employees were happy that the shifts were different now; the 24/7 worked for them.

Culture in a business

Colin Browne, author of How to Build a Happy Sandpit, spoke about the importance of having a company culture. His example was a group of four friends on a road trip to Cape Town. Their strategy would include who paid for the fuel, where they would stay and where they would stop along the way. If they created a culture, he said, it would be an epic road trip.

“Culture brings life, heart to strategy. Without culture, strategy is just things we do.”
Without culture, the work place would not feel like life. “A lot of people put their ‘work hat’ on and do not bring their best level of themselves.”

One way to build a culture in a business was to have fewer stupid rules, Browne said. “Often we are great at teaching, but can we learn too. You don’t have to be in leadership to have a leadership idea.”
Respect was a two-way street. “We are seeing that younger people want to work for a company that is perceived to be good.”

Speaking about living your company’s values, he gave as an example the McCarthy company. One of its values was family-related. It was found that there were people in the company whop could not read or write; free classes were then arranged to teach these people to read and write, to empower them.

The importance of a social media strategy

Verlie Oosthuizen, a lawyer, spoke about “The art of connecting: devise your winning social media policies and procedures”.

“I did employment law for 10 years. I started seeing social media issues coming up. My friends would post things that I thought ‘how can you do (post) that?'”

She was prompted to ask her firm to implement a social media department, and it had seen several cases relating to social media problems at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

WhatsApp was the biggest social media platform in South Africa, according to Oosthuizen’s statistics. “It is also where the biggest problems are found for employees. For instance, you cannot delete a message you send nor edit it. People screen-grab your message easily.”

She warned that people who frequently used and understood social media, might not understand the long-term effects of the platforms. “It’s important to look at social media policies. Educate your employees on it.

“Employers have a lot of control regarding what their employees say on social media. It’s important that employees are taught about what they can say. You are entitled to have a stand – your employees have chosen to work for your organisation.”

Similarly, your employees had to know your social media strategy – it had to “live” when you implemented it. When you were enforcing it, it had to be consistent. “Look at each case differently.”

Delegates tweeted their learnings:

Source: Future of HR.

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