In our Annual Report 2021 Laura Hagan, Chief Human Resources Officer, shares how our people have gone above and beyond during the many challenges of the last year whilst continuing to transform our business, including embracing new ways of working with ease.
I am so impressed by the way our people responded to all the challenges presented globally from Covid-19. In a year like no other, our people lived our culture, values and beliefs. In times of crisis, the values that were always there become amplified and very visible.
Guided by our purpose of Improving Lives for Generations, we moved quickly to articulate a set of clear priorities for our people: keeping each other safe and supported in and outside work, working together to prioritise the operations of our plants and supply chain – and so delivering to our customers. We felt confident if we put our people first, the rest would follow successfully.
Last year we said we wanted our culture to be pacier, adaptable and more ambitious – and the pandemic spurred us to do this almost overnight. Key to this was how local leaders and managers, especially those at the front line of our operations, immediately knew how best to lead, communicate and keep things running - as the reality of the pandemic was different in every location, and ever-changing.
FOCUS ON WELLBEING
We were determined to recognise and actively support our people’s wellbeing. For many of our people, this last year has been a relentless challenge – working at home, living with uncertainty and isolation for some, the joys and ‘head in hands’ moments of home-schooling. For some, it’s also been a time of family grief and loss. We’ve remained compassionate and supportive.
Home and working lives merged, blurred together like never before. Although not meeting people face-to-face, we felt very connected to each other through technology, with the ubiquitous interruptions of delightful children, animals of all varieties and a sense of life beyond the office.
We ensured our diverse population were supported – our plant and lab employees continued to work in difficult conditions – trying to balance operations with keeping safe, and our office-based employees working at home, some for the first time.
As we entered 2021, it was important to give our people a break – we asked people to take a ‘Wellbeing Day’ – not holiday or formal leave, but a chance for people to do something for themselves. Throughout the pandemic we also offered a confidential employee assistance programme, which provided many services including in-person and virtual counselling for our employees and their loved ones.
And we experienced joyful moments: – the Tate & Lyle Global Choir was a great example, – more connection in our global leadership group and the resilience and growth built in our teams as they stepped up to the challenge of 2020.
SHINING A SPOTLIGHT ON EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
The open, honest and personal culture we’ve seen emerge this year has also allowed our people to be far more candid about things we could do better at Tate & Lyle. A key one is equity, diversity and inclusion. Global events in 2020 led us to have much more open and honest conversations. This has been a real highlight for me this year: the way the dialogue about equity, diversity and inclusion grew so powerfully across the Company. We discussed the importance of building a trusting and open environment in which everyone has a voice, developing a more diverse workforce which reflects the local communities we call home, and redesigning our core organisational policies and practices to promote equitable advancement, retention and reward.
I remain resolute that an inclusive environment and culture is a fundamental prerequisite to commercial success and continuing to be a purpose and people-led business. I am proud to be working with our Chief Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Lauren von Stackelberg – together, alongside the Board and the Executive Committee, we undertake to shift the dial and play an important role.
STEPPING UP OUR VIRTUAL COMMUNICATIONS
Communication with our people was essential and we moved to informal, frequent and local conversations. “Virtual cafés” were a regular part of our working days and weeks, particularly in the first few months of the pandemic. People wanted reassurance, information and a chance to ask questions. And it wasn’t just the virtual cafés, our leaders stayed connected with regular check-ins, asking ‘how are you’ and spending time with their teams away from the day-to-day of intense business operations. The feedback from many of our colleagues through impromptu internal social media posts and feedback via our regular pulse surveys, was very positive and underlined how much more connected they felt to the leadership team.
REWARDING AND RECOGNISING PEOPLE IN CHALLENGING TIMES
Fair, performance‑based remuneration is fundamental to people’s motivation, and our incentive arrangements are based on both Group and individual performance measures. We ensure our packages are fair by benchmarking them regularly against the market.
We continued to invest in our teams on the front line and so maintained the usual salary investment in plant-based operational roles, in recognition of the importance of their contribution. Beyond the usual annual salary review, we wanted to recognise those who had worked so hard to keep our business running during the pandemic, particularly in our plants, and so we gave special recognition bonuses to our frontline staff. However, given the level of uncertainty in the market, we froze salaries for senior management and our managers in our bonus schemes. We resumed our normal approach to salary reviews for all staff in April 2021.
For us, recognition is about far more than pay. This takes many forms, from localised recognition moments in team meetings, through to large events which recognise truly exceptional behaviour. Given the exceptional performance of so many people across the Company, we launched a special ‘2020 Heroes Awards’, to recognise those people who had gone above and beyond in supporting their colleagues, communities and our customers through the pandemic.
DEVELOPING TALENT AND ENHANCING LEADERSHIP SKILLS
2020 saw a total revolution in our development offerings and coverage as we pivoted from a largely face-to-face training environment to a purely digital one. Our Global Leadership Programme cohort became our test group and completed their programme virtually, with full completion. After the positive feedback from this group, we created a new virtual learning suite, for both leaders and managers, starting with a coaching module that was rolled out to our top 100 leaders, including our Executive Committee.
For our broader employee population, we significantly extended both coverage and usage of learning provision. Having experienced limited take-up of our previous digital skills platform, we wanted to democratise and extend learning throughout the organisation, offering just-in-time skills training geared to employees’ unique needs.
We launched LinkedIn Learning in August, with over 16,000 courses on almost every business topic imaginable available, in seven languages. We are delighted that we are already achieving high levels of engagement with the platform with over 650 active users spending on average just under 90 minutes per month online.
DOING BUSINESS WITH INTEGRITY
We are proud of our values and expect everyone at Tate & Lyle, and all who work with us, to act in accordance with these standards. We set out what this means in our Code of Ethics, available in 10 languages. Central to our Code is a profound respect for human rights. The Code is publicised widely across the Group and is promoted through online training for everyone and face-to-face training for particular areas of risk. We strongly encourage people to report breaches through our Speak Up (whistleblowing) programme, which is advertised across our plants and offices, on our intranet and in other internal communications. This reflects our belief that prevention is the best approach – if people understand what’s expected of them and why, they’re more likely to do the right thing.
We publish standards for our supply chain, and our statement on anti-slavery and human trafficking can be found at www.tateandlyle.com/antislaverystatement
Looking ahead, we are emerging from the pandemic a stronger, more connected and compassionate business with our purpose very much at the forefront. And we’ve many things to look forward to; meeting people in person, visiting our sites around the world, – spending time reconnecting and exchanging new views.
Many are talking about the ‘new normal’ – I’d like to think we will create our own path forward, with greater resilience and ability to change, and our ingenious people will continue to work together for the success of Tate & Lyle.
Read Laura’s complete overview from page 50 of the Annual Report 2021, here.
Find out what else we’ve been up to over the past year in our Annual Report 2021 hub
Download a copy of the Annual Report 2021 below