Unilever is SA’s Top Employer for 2014

Samantha Crous, regional director Top Employers Institute Africa and Benelux. ( Jac Kritzinger)

Samantha Crous, regional director Top Employers Institute Africa and Benelux. ( Jac Kritzinger)

Unilever has been named as the Top Employer in South Africa for 2014 with Nestlé and EY (formerly Ernst & Young) following close on its heels in this year’s group of Top Employers.

The Top Employers Institute, formerly the CRF Institute, certifies excellence in the conditions that employers create for their people to grow and develop.

The certification programme is the result of months of rigorous research and its findings are independently audited by Grant Thornton.

“Unilever is delighted to have earned this year’s top HR accolade as the Top Employer in South Africa, a certification that will continue to inspire us to attract, produce and retain the finest talent South Africa has to offer,” says Antoinette Irvine, vice president of HR.

“We place great energy in leadership development as well as ensuring that employees from our graduate programmes are fast-tracked into becoming capable managers within a short space of time, which is very attractive to individuals who have great ambitions and potential.

“If we want to continue to grow our business to double its size, we will need access to the top talent and being an employer of choice helps us attract this kind of talent from the external market.”

To achieve the Top Employer certification, organisations are researched and audited on five dimensions: primary benefits, secondary benefits and working conditions, training and development, career development and culture management.

This year there was an overall increase in certified participants’ scores, which indicates that HR in the country’s top employers is a firm strategic business lever.

Additionally, many of the country’s Top Employers offer benefits such as social media channels for employees to offer feedback (63%), financial study support (72%), leadership development programmes (89%) and share options (45%). A small but increasing number of companies are also offering crèche and childcare facilities.

“There is a shortage of professional talent in the country, which means more companies are focusing on the competitiveness of their employer value propositions to attract and retain good people,” says Samantha Crous, regional director for the Top Employers Institute Africa and Benelux.

“In the Top Employer certification programme we see that high performance organisations return to the programme year after year (globally).”

Top Employers has multiple benefits, says Crous. “We provide credibility to the employer branding efforts of Top Employers and we help employers of choice adapt to a rapidly changing business environment with a focus on the development of people. We also enable knowledge sharing and transparency as well as facilitating harmonious HR practices in global companies.

“Ultimately, the work that we do helps to create life-enriching experiences for employees, as companies create the optimal working conditions for their people to grow and develop.”

Nestlé’s media relations manager, Millicent Molete says: “Our employees are our most important asset and we believe that their holistic wellness is essential to running a healthy business. We support and encourage employees to take ownership of their careers by regularly identifying new opportunities, and training and development needs.”

Being recognised as an employer of choice is highly motivating, says Ajen Sita, chief executive of EY Africa. “Every day our highest performing teams are committed to playing their part in building a better working world. This recognition motivates us to do even more.”

The companies named in this year’s Top 10 are Unilever South Africa, Nestlé South Africa, EY, Old Mutual Life Assurance Company, SAP South Africa, Accenture South Africa, MTN SA, Microsoft SA, Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs Inc and the Peninsula Beverage Company.

“The Top Employers that we certify around the world share a common understanding: an investment in your people is not just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense,” says Crous.