10/07/2007 - 22:00

Top-down value push key to Wesfarmers’ employer brand

10/07/2007 - 22:00


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There’s a woman standing at the edge of a beach looking over the ocean with her arms outstretched towards the sky.

There’s a woman standing at the edge of a beach looking over the ocean with her arms outstretched towards the sky.

Written in the sky is the slogan “New Horizons” and below three simple lines  “one company, diverse industries, brilliant opportunities”.

At the bottom of the ad is a Wesfarmers corporate logo.

The Western Australian conglomerate is using its brand to attract people – people interested in what it can offer, which the ad suggests are endless opportunities.

But Wesfarmers Ltd human resources manager Tony Ackland said the conglomerate had built itself into an employer of choice over time, and did not rely on fancy words or gimmicks to lure staff in the door.

He said Wesfarmers’ strong reputation helped it stand out from its competitors.

“One of the things Wesfarmers does well is its consistency in its message,” Mr Ackland said.

“It is a very loud message and it is a very clear message.

‘‘Whenever you hear [managing director] Richard Goyder speak, or any of the managing directors of our divisions, they reinforce our values.”

Those values were introduced by former Wesfarmers managing director Michael Chaney and have evolved over time. At the core is generating value for shareholders.

But Wesfarmers aims to do that by participating in the communities in which it works, acting with integrity and honesty, having a strong emphasis on protecting the environment and providing a safe and fulfilling working environment for its employees, according to Mr Ackland.

He said because Wesfarmers’ values were strongly reinforced from the top down, the business could maintain its strong culture, helping it attract people.

He added that its high-profile growth also helped it attract the right type of person.

“People see our commercial drive and they want to be a part of that,” Mr Ackland said.

In terms of recruitment, Mr Ackland said Wesfarmers relied heavily on referrals from its employees.

He said Wesfarmers utilised incentives, bonuses and share placements to help retain quality staff.

But he said communication also played an important role.

“The main thing is to make sure an employee’s work is aligned to our goals,” Mr Ackland said.

“We have quarterly updates…it gives them a sense that they know they are contributing to the business.”

Nationally, Wesfarmers employs 33,000 people, a number that could increase significantly if its acquisition of the Coles Group Ltd is completed.

“It will be an issue for us to work through. We don’t want to dilute that culture, it is incredibly impor-tant,” Mr Ackland said.

Wesfarmers’ subsidiary, Bunnings, was ranked fourth in WA Business News’ employer brand survey.

And while Bunnings declined to discuss its recruitment and branding strategies with WA Business News, the evolution of its advertising gives an indication of its increased focus on its staff.

Its employees have become the face of its campaign.

One advertising executive noted that Bunnings’ work with charities and promoting their workers helped position the hardware chain as an employer people wanted to work for.


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