An engaged workforce is not at the mercy of market fluctuations

by 09 Jul 2012

In 2011, when Hilti was recognised as the‘Best of the Best’ Best Employer, the impact was immediate. The company experienced an instant boost in employee confidence and a 300% spike in skilled industry professionals seeking jobs at Hilti.

An engaged and motivated workforce is 95% within an organisation’s power to control. This approach to employee engagement drove double digit financial growth for Hilti in 2011. Hilti believes the high levels of engagement can be attributed to the clear and consistent communication of their strategy and the accountability each and every person has in meeting these goals.

The Hilti Group develops and manufactures heavy-duty tools, consumables and fastening systems for the construction, mining and energy industries. Hilti operates in 120 countries and employs 20,000 people worldwide, including 270 in Australia.

However, working in the natural resources and construction sectors in Australia exposes Hilti to the benefits and challenges of the current two-speed economy.

Hilti realised market conditions were changing, particularly in the construction sector which comprises 80% of the company’s business, posing a risk to employee engagement in this area. To ensure employee and financial success in 2012 Hilti would have to adapt to market conditions.

To steer the company through a difficult year, a strong focus on leadership development was needed. This was supported by Hilti identifying and defining the leadership behaviours it needed to achieve to secure sustainable profitable growth for the business.

With high retention rates, Hilti implemented a strategy for equipping managers with the skills to become better leaders.The program for creating stronger leaders fed into managers’ own performance, and also their ability to drive performance and development within their teams.

Each manager was accountable for the development and individual growth of their team members, and meeting specific key performance indicators, including 20% of the team being identified as having ‘high potential’ and matched to future roles, and at least one team member who could succeed their own role.

Hilti also increased transparency in how internal talent was identified, reviewed and nurtured, allowing the company to develop from within to retain knowledge and skills. In 2011, 15% of employees progressed their careers through the Strategic Manpower Development program, with 84% of management appointments filled internally.

During the year of being Australia’s Best Employer, Hilti invested a lot of energy on taking its employees on the journey toward achieving the company’s vision and strategy. Each employee understoodthat they played a key role in taking the business to the next level.

Hilti also listened to its employees; improving the referral program to encourage recommendations for new ‘Hilti blood’ by offering a cash incentive for successful hires. Twenty per cent of all new hires in the past year came through this referral program.

Despite the difference between the booming resources sector and flagging construction industry, both divisions across Hilti have remained equally engaged over the past 12 months and the company was accredited as an Aon Hewitt Best Employer for the second year running. 

In many ways, being recognised as a Best Employer in 2012 is more meaningful than the‘Best of the Best’ accreditation last year as the conditions have been tough and the company pulled together toadapt to keep engagement high. Now Hilti is strongly positioned for further success.


About the author

Jan Pacas is the managing director of Hilti Australia