Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) is one of the largest organisations operating throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Their brand portfolio includes some of the world’s biggest and most luxurious shopping centres such as Mall of the Emirates and a range of internationally renowned hotels and theme parks. MAF also has a significant retail presence, owning the regional franchise of the French Carrefour hypermarkets, a large cinema chain as well as a host of other fashion chains including Lucky7 and Jane Norman.
The context and challenge
MAF is a cultural melting pot, employing approximately 18,000 people from more than 52 different nationalities in a wide variety of roles. The company had an ambitious growth strategy in a highly competitive marketplace. This meant that their workforce had to be committed to, and capable of contributing to, their success. And they had to care enough to go above and beyond what was expected of them. Thus MAF took the view that high employee engagement was key to achieving their growth strategy and also their desire to be widely known as a great place to work.
Key challenges that MAF had at the time of the project were as follows:
- Companies across the region competing for the small talent pool and offering two or three times more salary in order to recruit the best
- A highly transient workforce, who generally did not consider MAF Group of companies as places to develop their careers
- The large number of different cultures sometimes caused tensions which hindered performance
- A low sense of emotional attachment between employees and their businesses, and an even lower sense of attachment to the larger Group organisation
- The concept of employee engagement and its important role in creating success was little understood by managers and leaders
What we did
MAF approached Sally Bibb because they knew she had an excellent reputation for helping companies build high performing and engaging cultures. Their brief was to improve employee engagement significantly throughout the organisation. Whatever we did needed to work across cultures, countries and at all levels in the organisation. Everything had to be done with the utmost cultural sensitivity and be translated into Arabic. And we had an incredibly short timescale – six weeks from project brief to delivery.
Our concept was to take all employees and leaders through a journey of self-discovery, to understand what engaged them personally in order to help them to increase their own and others’ engagement levels. And, importantly, we had to find a way to help managers build their know-how in increasing the engagement of their people.
To do this we created a personal journal – a ‘Discovery Guide’ for all employees and a ‘Managers’ Handbook’ for all managers. The Managers’ Handbook took managers on a journey to build their understanding of their own personal role in creating a more engaging workplace and the benefits that come with that. Whether people were knowledgeable about engagement or not, by the time they had worked through their guide, they had understood what engagement meant to them, the challenges in building strong engagement in teams and how, practically, they could build engagement in their people.
The ‘Discovery Guide’ was introduced to people at a two-hour workshop which we developed to be run by internal MAF champions – the ‘Beacons’. We created a detailed facilitators guide for the workshop as well as a slide pack and supporting materials.
The content of the handbooks and workshop materials were accessible and punchy and written in a way that worked in all cultures. The questions we used in the guides were engaging and thought provoking. The overall design helped pull the final product together into a piece of work that the client told us was exceptional and meaningful.
An added bonus was the branded character concept that we designed which became the centre-piece for all subsequent engagement work and strategic communication to do with company culture.
The client wanted all employees to have a hard copy of the guide. However we produced it with the environment in mind. We used recycled materials, with a proportion of monies re-invested into the planting of trees.
This was an innovative concept and the company loved it and told us it went way beyond their expectations.
Here are but a few of the measurable results that the client is happy to share:
• 86% of employees reported that the guide enabled them to understand the extent of their own emotional attachment to the organisation
• 64% of employees stated that they were consciously working on personal plans for strengthening their own engagement in order to feel more fulfilled in their work
• 67% of managers stated that the guide has helped them to be a more effective manager
• The Group Board requested HR walk them through the guide/journal as a result of the exceptional feedback it had gained from senior leaders
• 37% of employees stated that they had changed their perspective of organisation culture from being the responsibility of managers, to one that they can personally influence
The client’s feedback:
“It is very rare that I would recommend anyone as highly as I would Sally Bibb. She was doing groundbreaking work in the field of engagement well before it became widely recognised as key to business success. This project had a ridiculously short deadline. The final products and added value that she has brought to our employee engagement efforts are fantastic and something that we are really proud of. The difference that Sally and her team at Engaging Minds brings compared to many others operating in this arena, is that they understand where engagement really takes place and how to make it happen. The response from our managers and employees has been extremely positive and surpassed our expectations. If you want to work with someone with energy, enthusiasm and expert knowledge then I would highly recommend Engaging Minds as a partner.”