At the end of 2015, Olam’s primary workforce, across our full value chain, was 26,300 people in 70 countries, while our secondary workforce (casual, contract and seasonal) was 36,200. In total, an increase of 12% over 18 months since our 2014 report. In part, this is due to the acquisitions of ADM Cocoa and McCleskey Mills (peanuts) which together brought 1,700 new employees to the Olam family. In this period we have hired more than 250 managers.
To support our business diversification into upstream (plantations and farming) and midstream (manufacturing) operations, we have built significant expertise in the organisation in these two areas. In the last five years our expert technical talent in these two specialist areas has grown from 45 to 150 people.
Enhancing internal capability to drive business growth has always been a key element of Olam’s Human Resources strategy. Aligned to our business strategy of prioritising Africa as a key pillar, over the years we have created a solid foundation of talent in the region and a unique set of operating competencies.
We have created extensive experience in our leadership talent of working in the African context. For instance, our Country Heads in Africa have deep contextual experience, with an average time spent in businesses in Africa at 13 years per leader.
Furthermore three quarters of new hires in FY15 were for positions in Africa. It continues to be a challenge to hire in emerging countries, especially with adverse news last year related to outbreaks of disease and other security concerns. In the face of these challenges, the overall cycle time for hiring (number of days from position approved date to joining date) has been at 85 days, a significant improvement from previous years.
In a region where quality manpower is at an overall premium, we have been able to continuously hire, engage, develop and retain high talent for both existing, as well as new businesses in the continent. Of the 1,090 senior managerial talent that we have across the company, 446 are in Africa.
A critical piece of our overall manpower planning for the region is the regional trainee scheme introduced in 2010. We have been able to tap into a rich source of early talent with more than 50 trainees joining us in Africa in 2015 across the disciplines of Sales, Manufacturing and Supply Chain.
Welcoming people from acquired businesses
In FY15 we completed our largest acquisition to date when we acquired ADM’s Cocoa business. A clear draw in the deal was the cocoa expertise of the employees. 1,500 new members of staff have joined our Olam Cocoa team as a result of this acquisition.
An important factor determining the success of any integration is the compatibility and assimilation of the two cultures. A clearly defined framework for due diligence and integration led to success in retaining all key talent in the acquisition. As an indicator of the effectiveness of the integration process, in a recent employee pulse survey amongst employees of the newly acquired cocoa business, the overall engagement index is 87%. Furthermore, 75% agreed that they see evidence of shared values in their workplaces.
At the heart of our success has been the strong Olam DNA that exists across the organisation, binding each employee to the core shared values of Entrepreneurial Spirit, Stretch and Ambition, Mutual Respect and Team Work, Ownership to Deliver, Integrity and Partnerships.
Over 1,000 Olam employees across all operations of the company participated in highly engaging and interactive workshops ‑ ‘Living our Shared Values’. The programme was custom designed and delivered in partnership with ExCo leaders and HR to engage employees and jointly explore how our values are lived.
Effectively integrating new employees into the unique culture of Olam has always been a critical factor in ensuring high team performance. A systematic on‑boarding process called Cultivate has helped in reducing attrition for new employees and elevating performance levels. This process facilitates the new employee to immediately build strong psychological bonds within the organisation.
Another signature process that supports the integration of new managers is the Core Process Workshop, a 4‑day highly interactive programme with the CEO. This workshop is one of the fundamental processes contributing to strategy, alignment and culture creation in Olam. This focuses on providing strategic clarity about the building blocks of Olam’s business model. During the year, 160 new managers participated in the three workshops held.