Bunnings MD says employee engagement is key to business growth

The past 18 months have challenged many core business assumptions about the working environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But while the emphasis on the customer needs is at the core of all business models, the team at Workplace from Facebook and a senior Bunnings executive said the real foundation of any business is its employees. Workplace from Facebook suggests it’s more than a question of employee engagement, it’s about finding a competitive edge. 

Mike Schneider, managing director, Bunnings Australia and New Zealand

During the Workplace Transform APAC 2021 Facebook live event, Facebook’s regional director for Asia Pacific, Vicky Skipp said: “Companies with highly-engaged employees lower attrition rates, higher productivity, and better customer service, all of which are key company priorities as businesses look at getting back on track.

“We need to create an environment that puts people, not processes, at the heart of the company’s decision making. Wellness and culture aren’t HR buzzwords. They’re about to become the cornerstone of your business strategy.

“At the Workplace from Facebook, we believe that the only future worth creating is a future that works for everyone. And that means more than providing technology to people who have always had it. It means using technology to connect every employee across the organisation including the frontline to their colleagues and leaders. It means empowering people with a sense of purpose, belonging and community, which will drive happiness, engagement and success,” Skipp said.

During the session Mike Schneider, managing director, Bunnings, spoke on leadership and creating a fun and engaging culture and community that has seen Bunnings increase its profit during the COVID-19 pandemic by 25.5% in the first half of 2021, according to Schneider.

“Coming into 2020, there was a really strong sense of positive momentum and great engagement with our customers, and with our team. We were really driving a medium to long-term strategic agenda of business evolution and improvement. During March to April 2020, the pandemic came to Australia and business was quickly turned on its head,” Schneider said.

“In times like that, you really need to find the strength and the resilience to be able to support your team, care for the people around you who you love and really make sure that you’re making good business decisions. As a company we’ve been able to pull together to support our team, with a focus of keeping our customers and teams safe, particularly in our retail stores. There’s a need to be really resilient, really focussed, and stay very committed to that idea of caring for the people around you, because in doing that, they’re caring for you as well.”

Schneider spoke about creating the ‘Challenge Accepted’ initiative and how it contributed to the workplace remaining “fun and safe” during unprecedented times, which sees Bunning’s employees from across Australia and New Zealand compete in competitions and challenges for the chance to win prizes, and a chance to donate to communities in need.

“On one of the many live streams that Bunnings has done, one of our young managers in one of our stores actually asked a question on whether or not we were really live-to-air during the livestream, and the challenge he put to me was that presenting on camera, would I drop down and give him ten push-ups, and that really got us thinking about ways that we could create challenges within our business to engage our team, but also to use that as a way to reward and recognise a team through monetary prizes and other gift incentives,” Schneider said.

“Some prizes you were able to donate to different community groups to support them through various challenges. It’s given the team a great opportunity to be competitive with one another right around Australia and New Zealand, but also do a lot of good for their mental health by staying active, having fun and having a laugh, and also providing funds to much-needed community groups across Australia and New Zealand.”

Schneider added that it was Workplace from Facebook which has helped lead the internal teams at Bunnings to a more engaged and happier work environment.

“During 2020, we recruited close to 10,000 new team members, growing our workforce by 25%. Tools like the workplace provide a really important role, because they allow us to connect and engage with all of our team members, share content that’s relevant, share information that’s really important for our team members to be hearing,” Schneider said.

“Particularly changes with our operating model, when governments introduced different restrictions, to make sure our team members know we are on top of things. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to listen to our team members and hear from them what’s on their mind, ways that we can support them, and also to create that care and culture that’s vital right now. We have managed to stay really connected and engaged by using tools like Workplace for Facebook.”


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