Our values and culture drive our success
Achieving the Top Employers Certification takes ongoing engagement, constant measurement and a focused link between people strategy and business strategy.
Anisha Archary, human resources director, Old Mutual Emerging Markets explains the role of the company’s unique identity: “We attribute our success to the fact that we are a values based and customer centric business, and our leaders are focused on winning through people.
“We take great pride in our culture, which is shaped by our strong values of accountability, integrity, respect and pushing beyond boundaries.
It’s something we measure regularly to make sure we are creating a supportive and enabling environment for employees and living up to our people vision of being ‘a great place to work with people who do great things’.
“Our success as an employer is due also to the collaboration between our leaders and employees. Our code of conduct, which outlines in some detail what best behaviour looks like at Old Mutual, keeps the spirit of mutual respect alive and helps ensure our workplace is harmonious, cooperative and efficient.
“It means employees get to co-create a socially cohesive, diverse and inclusive working environment that respects the dignity and worth of every individual. There is zero tolerance for any form of discrimination or disrespect, whether based on race, sex, gender, age, marital status, family responsibility, origin, sexual orientation, disability, religion, culture, language or nationality.”
What’s critical to remember, she adds, is that culture is dynamic. “As such, it requires ongoing effort, focus and collective ownership.”
Old Mutual believes in creating people practices that can be applied consistently across the regions and countries in which it operates. The Old Mutual Way is the company’s flagship employee engagement programme, designed to develop leadership ability and drive authentic conversations and engagement across the business. The programme is delivered through an online portal as well as workshops, and addresses recruitment, talent management, talent development, performance management and employee engagement.
New employees are welcomed through a comprehensive on-boarding process called Passport to Greatness. It introduces them to the vision and strategy of the business, its philosophy and its brand reputation, while preparing them for the real-life experience and practical aspects of building a great career at Old Mutual.
Aligning the people strategy to the company brand promise and desired customer experience is key to the success of any multinational organisation, says Archary. “At the heart of our people strategy is our commitment to developing the employee capability to deliver on the changing business and customer requirements.”
Like all forward-looking organisations, Old Mutual is constantly adapting to shifting attitudes and priorities. “We need to be particularly vigilant when it comes to trends that are rapidly influencing and reshaping the workplace, the workforce, and the world of work,” Archary says.
Caring for communities
One of these trends is the rise of the millennial generation, young people born between 1985 and 2000 who have grown up in a highly connected world and tend to have a fresh and iconoclastic outlook on life. With a millennial workforce of 11 000, Old Mutual recently conducted research to identify their key engagement drivers.
“Insights from our millennial research highlighted the importance of coaching, development opportunities, flexibility, access to leadership, and making a difference in communities, among others,” explains Archary.
Millennials seek meaning in making a difference, changing a life, and spreading goodwill. In response to their priorities, Old Mutual has introduced programmes to drive social wellness (such as Purposeful Friday, which drives staff volunteerism) and general emotional wellbeing (such as My Parenting programme for new parents and returning mothers).
“We (HR) now partner with the Old Mutual Foundation to support staff volunteerism,” explains Archary. “On the first Friday of every month employees across the various countries observe and engage in Purposeful Friday, which connects employees to our purpose – enabling positive futures for our customers and communities – in a very tangible and meaningful way.”
Every first Friday has a different theme and a different focus. For example, August marked Women’s Month and invited employees to contribute to Wheat (Women’s Hope Education and Training Trust) to help support schoolgirls who cannot afford personal care products.
The company has for many years had one of the most comprehensive and best supported staff volunteerism programmes in the country. “Our community builder programme is designed to integrate the company and its employees into the social fabric of the local communities we serve,” says Archary. “Supporting, developing and empowering vulnerable members of our society is a big part of who we are at Old Mutual. Enabling positive futures is the reason we exist as an organisation — and caring for our communities is a logical and emotional extension of that.’
Old Mutual’s annual Staff Volunteerism Awards showcase and honour the remarkable contributions and heroic efforts of dedicated employees and serve to inspire the rest of the organisation. “These volunteers deeply inspire the rest of us with their empathy, humanity and immense kindness,” says Archary. “They demonstrate the power of an attitude of caring, an attitude that is so valuable in a company like ours, which is entrusted with the savings, investments and dreams of millions of customers.”
Archary says that employees on Old Mutual’s Staff Payroll Giving Programme make voluntary monthly contributions from their salary and every contribution is matched rand for rand by the Old Mutual Foundation. The funds are directed to a range of upliftment programmes that focus on aiding abused and neglected children, the elderly, animal welfare, education and women empowerment. There are 10 employees who have been contributing for 14 years (since the programme was launched) without skipping a single month. They were recognised at the Staff Volunteerism Awards this year amid much applause.
The role of diversity
Also generating enthusiastic support from employees is the much-loved annual Diversity Day, which always takes place on Old Mutual’s birthday (its 171st this year). “Teams across the emerging markets in which Old Mutual operates get dressed up in colourful costumes, decorate their offices with vibrant flair and share a range of delicious and diverse cuisines,” says Archary. “It’s a festive occasion that helps to unite our employees across the business, while also communicating the importance we place on diversity. We believe our differences make us stronger and more creative, particularly when it comes to problem-solving.”
Old Mutual focuses on a total reward package delivered through a multi-dimensional employee value proposition, which includes (over and above competitive remuneration and benefits) access to learning, personal and career growth, leadership development, talent management, mentorship programmes, access to financial advice and opportunities to make a difference in communities. The latest benefit to be added to the package is free funeral cover.
The business takes internal communication seriously, managing a wide range of platforms and channels to engage and motivate employees and ensure they are kept up to date with the latest company news and business developments. These include an intranet, a weekly newsletter and a company magazine, Amicus, which is available in print form as well as online. It hosts an immensely popular annual ‘Workplace Heroes’ competition that honours those employees whose positive energy, values and work ethic most inspire their colleagues. This year no fewer than 3000 employees engaged with the competition, nominating and voting for their favourites across Africa as well as Latin America.
Employees are also encouraged to make use of the Old Mutual App, which provides access to their Old Mutual product portfolio and also supports the company’s sponsorships, including the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, Comrades Marathon and Old Mutual Soweto Marathon, with online training guides, live tracking of participants and event-related news and interviews on Old Mutual Live, its pop-up radio channel.
It’s clear Old Mutual employees value being part of an expanding company with a formidable heritage and strong reputation. “The many awards that Old Mutual receives every year instil great pride in our employees,” says Archary, “whether it’s being voted No 1 in Investment and Insurance in the 2016 Top Companies Reputation Index awards or winning Sunday Times Top Brand Awards in the long-term insurance category for the thirteenth year in a row.”