Two years and two months ago, I was very excited to launch a talent attraction campaign called #MakeMintYour2020. We were going to attract new Minties with the opportunity to #CreateTomorrow with us and drive their career goals using the opportunities we could provide. I had paired this up with an internal campaign to get Minties to plan their 2020 goals and presented this as #CreateYourTomorrow for them to build their careers with Mint. I had t-shirts printed and the social media banners ready, 2020 was going to be an epic year of talent attraction and development.
Fast-forward to today. The campaign for talent was abruptly adjusted to a campaign for keeping our Minties safe and well. Our intentions to grow the company headcount and expand our skills within the business were recalibrated to respond as quickly as possible to a rapidly changing market and a totally new socio-economic landscape. How do you maintain a culture of learning in a world where people’s lives have been profoundly impacted from a health, family, social, economic, education, and professional aspect?
The Key Pillars to a People First Culture
As Head of People, I have 3 priority pillars to drive a People First culture within the Mint Group SA. Our first pillar is Employee Engagement. This deserves its own article and focus but suffice to say pivoting a people-first culture to a virtual environment required consistent herculean efforts and the structures of a culture built predominantly on in-person interactions and engagement had to fundamentally shift. Our second pillar is talent management, again another topic requiring its own focus. We are no longer fishing in our own backyard pond; we are now fishing in international waters with mega-yachts and cruise ships enticing our local talent. Another endless dilemma facing all organisations and all levels of talent.
Our third pillar is organisational development, and Mint Group has always prided itself on our robust learning culture and creating opportunities for growth within the business. Adjusting learning and development to this new hybrid world, where knowledge sharing is no longer happening organically and on-the-job learning through observation and picking up visible cues is not possible, has certainly proven to be a challenge.
Upskilling is the Foundation to a Positive Employee Experience
One of our most important factors to realise as part of the employee experience is ensuring that we offer consistent learning and development opportunities. People generally love to learn and progress in their careers. Employees generally want to make an impact and a difference.
Business is better when people can be their best
A positive employee experience translates to business success across the organization. It’s important that everyone across all divisions is satisfied in their designated roles.
I believe we have learned through trial and error that there are three important things to focus on. Firstly, accessibility to content and the user-friendliness of any systems that are used. If it is easy to use and accessible, then your people will use it. Secondly, giving direction and intention. Mint Group is a global Microsoft Partner, and we, therefore, need our Minties to be up to date on the latest certifications in their specialisation. Doing exams as an adult is a lot like having to re-take your driver’s licence.
You have been driving for years, you know how to do it, but are you actually doing it according to the K53 (South African) requirements? So, we implemented initiatives to incentivise our Minties to complete the required exams, ranging from cash prizes to vouchers or special leave days. And thirdly, ensure that Minties have the time to focus on their career development.
Mint provides eight training and study days leave per Mintie a year, and any Mintie who is in between projects can log their time to skills development. We prioritise knowledge-sharing through virtual events like Think Tank Thursday, and we include knowledge sharing in our bi-annual KPIs.
It is critical to maintaining a culture of learning and development in a hybrid workplace in order to ensure team integration and prevent silos from occurring between different areas. Isolation is a big motivation killer, so it is important that from the leadership team engagement is driven and learning is prioritised so that it becomes “the way we do things” rather than a casualty of the pandemic. Upskilling and cross-skilling are just as important as re-skilling, and organisations who drive this with focus and consistency will ensure that employees remain engaged and challenged, and continue to perform well.
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