An SME Engagement Journey 

Nampak Plastics are the largest manufacturer of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) milk bottles for the UK dairy market, with sales of over 2 billion bottles per year. The organisation has a strong commitment towards Employee Engagement, driven from the top by Managing Director, Eric Collins. In 2010, Nampak were awarded overall winners of The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) People Management Awards, along with the Employee Engagement Award.

Over the last four years the business has transformed levels of Employee Engagement through a number of initiatives that encourage employees to contribute to the ongoing success and share in the development of the organisation. Many of the initiatives were driven from the top, by both Managing Director, Eric Collins and the then, HR Director, Cathie Wright-Smith.

Eric‘s vision was to change the culture to devolve decision making to the lowest possible level across the organization to add value, engage and involve colleagues, and to create a real positive energy that empowered all to make decisions quickly. He invested a great deal of time seeking feedback from all stakeholders by asking, what do we do well and need to continue? What do we do badly and need to stop immediately? How effective are our key relationships? And finally, what more could Nampak do to make life better? All of these questions helped Nampak embark upon the ‘engagement journey’.  

Nampak is a great example of a company who have undergone a mass transformation in changing the culture of the business and its approach towards its employees.  We hope this inspires other small-medium sized enterprises in how to achieve a committed, engaged and productive workforce, which has certainly helped sustain the future performance of the organisation.

Eric  told us:  “In 2010, Nampak conducted the same survey done in 2007 however the difference being, 80% of the workforce’s response now saying they would recommend Nampak Plastics as a great place to work to their family and friends’, compared to 80% saying they wouldn’t in 2007.  Throughout the last four years a number of initiatives were introduced including; Employee of the Month scheme, Yearly Excellence Awards ceremony where winners are nominated by their colleagues and a ‘Participate Programme’ – a programme which was designed to develop a new approach to leadership and management and creates a sense of collaboration.  The important thing to remember is that employees need to feel valued and be rewarded for their individual contribution towards to organisation.”

More information can be found on the Nampak Plastics ‘engagement journey’ in the case study ‘The effect of Employee Engagement within a medium-sized organisation”.

The challenge that Nampak and many others face is maintaining the momentum of the ‘engagement journey’ on which they embarked.

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