Building an employer brand and culture when merging companies across a continent

“How do you create an employee brand from scratch? If you look at Nomad Foods Europe no-one knows who we are,” explains HR director for UK and continental Europe Tim Kensey.

“Nomad was only formed last year so we’re at the very beginning of the journey – but we’ve got a great heritage and we’re trying to build on that, as we establish our employee brand, our culture, behaviours, and our vision across the whole group.”

The business has several household name brands, boasts annual sales across Europe of more than €2bn and employs almost 4,500 people across 10 manufacturing sites.

In June 2015 Nomad Foods Europe acquired the Birds Eye Iglo group (where Kensey was HR director) and six months later added the Findus brands.

 

Cultural change

Kensey had already launched an employee branding and cultural change project in 2014 at Birds Eye Iglo group.

However, with the Nomad takeover and then addition of the culturally-opposite Findus shortly after, it was obvious this would need to be halted and revamped to a more appropriate group-wide policy.

Speaking at EB Live, Kensey continued: “Iglo was very much a centralised organisation, Findus a very much country-led organisation.

“So that started us thinking that we had to do something bigger in terms of an employee brand across Nomad Foods Europe. We’ve spent the last year thinking about what are we going to do about that.

“It’s not just about putting a portal in place, it’s not just about putting a brand in place, or a set of HR tools in place – we’ve recognised there’s much more we need to do to create a new organisation.”

One of the most important considerations has been the company’s strategy for future growth.

“We’re creating it for now and also for the future – we’ve got ambitions for further mergers and acquisitions work so we need something now that we can move forward when we bring other companies into the fold,” he added.

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Primary principles

The Nomad and me portal will support the function, but it is the principles it will relate that are most important.

As ever with such a project direction from the senior leadership has been vital and while Kensey and his HR team have been the main facilitators of the process, he has been at pains to ensure it is driven by the executive team and resonates with the business strategy.

“We recognise we need to take a step back and say what are our values, what is our mission, what is our vision? What are we aiming to achieve?” he continued.

“We’ve got the strong belief that when you get these right they are going to drive positive business changes.

“We’ve worked very closely with our executive committee so they are not HR words on a page; it can all be connected back to our business objectives and we have tested them at some length across the organisation.”

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Vision and values

Eight values will be launched next month – all of them tied back to the business vision – along with several other key HR policies.

These include group-wide bonus schemes, development plans and a quarterly employee awards for a value champion to reflect people who epitomise the company values in their actions.

All of these have been designed to be simple, transparent and transposable into the firm’s different markets.

“We’re very much at the beginning of the process. We’ve got an awful lot of work to do in the next 15 months to embed our vision and values, because this isn’t a one-step here you go get on with it,” Kensey said

“Its launch, engage, embed, engage, embed, it’s a continuous process.

“We expect employees to embrace the values, to be able to connect them and to be able to live our values every day,” he added.

 

Learn from the past

In building the vision and values it has been vital to recognise the strong existing cultures in the original businesses.

As a result, part of the messaging will be that telling employees that they have been listened to and that the business has tried to use existing values and visions and bring them together.

Kensey and his team have strong ambitions for the vision and values, planning to leverage externally and internally, including within the attraction and retention strategy.

“We’re a new company coming together, we’ve got some really great heritage and strategic brands, we’ve got that culture in many of our markets, we want to bring it together under one new brand and we are trying to align things we do to get that sense of one way, our way across the organisation as a whole,” he concluded.

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