It was 2013, and Holden, one of Australia’s largest car manufacturers, was faced with a challenging situation, one putting both the business and employee engagement to the test. After being told the plant would be closing in four years, the leadership had to make some difficult decisions: when and what to tell their employees, and how to manage the business for the remaining years.
The strategy and approach the leadership team developed is a stellar example of employee engagement at its best, which is even more amazing given their situation. Where some companies would focus on winding down the business, Holden made the decision to ramp up and focus on its people. According to Jamie Getgood, HR Director,
If all we do as a leadership team is simply shrink the business, we will have failed our people and our customers. Our people genuinely care for each other, and our last car will be the best we ever built.
Holden’s new focus on its people was comprehensive and best in class, so much so that other companies facing similar challenges began to solicit the company’s assistance. It involved the following:
With these new initiatives, Holden spent more on its people over the final four years than in the previous 10. Did it make a difference? Absolutely, yes! The company’s workplace-of-choice metrics, which included engagement, increased a staggering 20 to 30%; attendance improved; processes improved; and the quality of the cars built in the facility attained world-class standards. Holden’s workforce rallied around the business to truly support it and to leave with their heads held high, being proud of what they had accomplished and done during this challenging period.