In the countdown to the 2008 Best Places to Work in Hospitality awards, run in association with recruitment specialist Corecruitment, Emma White catches up with 2007 supplier category winner P&G Professional
Manufacturers and suppliers are not often recognised for their role in providing products and equipment to the hospitality industry, and P&G Professional director for the UK and Ireland Mat Baker says his team regards it as a "great accolade".
"The award proves that a relatively small company can still provide best practice and show how best to manage an organisation," he says. "It's a great way for us to get external recognition in the industry and I think it raises our profile as a relatively unique business unit within P&G as a whole."
P&G Professional, the manufacturer and supplier of cleaning and hygiene products to the hospitality industry, was set up some 20 years ago and employs about 40 staff. Parent company Procter & Gamble is 170 years old this year.
Baker says P&G Professional's unusual policy of recruiting at entry level and promoting from within sets it apart from other suppliers. Under its diversity action plan, the company strives to attract, develop and retain a variety of employees, supported by a steering team comprising directors of differing nationalities and gender.
The company's "build from within" philosophy means all vacancies are filled internally and open-job postings enable employees to freely apply for vacancies around the company. Just 2% of employees left P&G Professional in the past year. "An enormous amount of effort and time is put into the recruitment, training and development of our employees," explains Baker. "We're committed to nurturing the senior managers of the future."
Employing at entry level means most employees are university graduates, and Baker says P&G Professional has a reputation for providing a "fantastic training environment". About £43,000 of company money is allocated each year to providing external training schemes, corporate programmes and skill-based internal programmes.
"P&G is a young and dynamic organisation that's good at giving people responsibility and the right culture of training from the start. We empower people and I think that's attractive to potential employees," Baker says.
Rigorous training schemes are often undertaken across other divisions within the company and are usually ongoing beyond the first year. Judges were quick to applaud the company's virtual university, "RapidLearn", which enables employees worldwide to access more than 500 online courses. "It provides a tool for employees and managers to gain access to a whole body of training open to them," says Baker. "It's accessible, too, working on a keyword basis, so that managers can easily select and develop their training programmes."
A wide range of benefits are open to employees including company car, crèche, pension scheme, flexitime, subsidised meals, graduate recruitment scheme, gym membership, maternity/paternity cover or childcare allowance and an occupational therapy unit.
The company also takes equality seriously and runs internal support networks including Women in Business, Working Parents, the Cultural Diversity Network, EDGE (Ethnic Diversity Group) and GABLE (Gay, Lesbian and bisexual).
Opportunity Now, an organisation for employers committed to creating an inclusive workplace for women, has named P&G Professional a Gold Employer and has given it its best practice award for the "Sex@Workshop" training course, an awareness programme for gender diversity. "This training course is also offered externally and has proved to be successful," says Baker.
He continues: "We recently supported celebrations around the Diwali Festival led by the Asian community, which was important for recognising its significance to them, but was also good for raising understanding and awareness among other employees too."
P&G Professional is keen to acknowledge its employees' contribution to the business and holds monthly company-wide meetings to recognise team spirit. Quarterly Work & Development Plan reviews aim to highlight individuals' overall performance and development. Quarterly awards are handed out within teams, to recognise the "best business driver" and "best effort" and quarterly off-site team meetings are also designed to reward and build team spirit.
Field sales manager Amanda Rowe has worked at P&G Professional for more than three years and describes the environment as "relaxed and informal". She says: "Everyone sits in an open-plan office and individuals are encouraged to speak freely to managers of all levels. I feel supported day in and day out in an extremely flexible working environment."
Baker says the value attributed to P&G Professional's employees can be summarised in its purpose, values and principles statement: "The interests of the company and the individual are inseparable."
"People management is crucial," he says. "You can't be rated among the top employees at P&G unless you are excellent at managing and developing people, too."
Best Places to Work Awards 2008
Winners of the Best Places to Work in Hospitality awards 2008 will be announced on 18 February at a glittering awards ceremony, Champagne reception and three-course dinner in the Prince Consort Rooms at the Honourable Artillery Company in London.
Single tickets cost £120 plus VAT, while tables of 10 are offered at a reduced rate of £1,100 plus VAT. If you have any queries about the awards or would like to attend, please contact Lisa Goold on 020 8652 4200 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
2008 Award Categories