Despite the most challenging year in decades, Nestlé Vietnam has won recognition as the most sustainable company and the best place to work in Việt Nam.
Việt Nam News asked Binu Jacob, CEO of Nestlé Vietnam, to share the secret of winning employees' hearts.
During the pandemic last year, Nestlé Vietnam was named as Best Place to Work in 2021 in the country by Anphabe, how did that come about?
Well, we always put people as the centre, and we are determined to build a workplace for employees and leaders to maximise their talent, connecting with our common goal known as The Nest of Choice – a second home for employees. That is why people stay with Nestlé for longer than with most other companies.
The pandemic, especially the fourth wave, influenced most businesses in Việt Nam in terms of human management. Nestlé Vietnam adjusted corporate governance and human resource management to reach significant achievements in nurturing its people and working culture.
Like in any crisis, COVID-19 presented businesses with a choice between their people and financial targets – and we kept our people as priorities.
We have had many initiatives each week such as wellness activities and introduced six clubs during the pandemic to keep people connected and positive. But most importantly, our people-centricity was felt a lot more across our organisation.
Every morning, before anything else, we discuss the safety and wellbeing of our people. Almost every week, we were doing town halls to listen to our people and learn what their pain points were. We created an entire task force to source vaccines for our staff and shared our progress and outlooks regularly.
When we had a COVID-19 outbreak at one of our factories, we paid for the best treatment for all involved. We paid VNĐ25 million (US$1,000) after each patient, even third-party workers, to transfer them to private hospitals.
It was not about the money; it was about the lives and I think many of our employees felt rather than just heard that we are focused on their wellbeing and that is what has gained us this recognition as the Best Place to Work in Việt Nam.
How will you develop your employees in the future?
We are currently rethinking the workplace of the future. We have set up a team of young people to share with us what the ideal workplace would look like for them. It is a way to get us to leave our comfort zone.
The team has already come back with some crazy ideas. We start from this angle and whittle down to what is practical and possible – and what is inclusive for all ages. Meeting intergenerational expectations post-pandemic will be the single biggest challenge that leaders have faced in the last 10 years.
Finding the answer and inciting all of our people to step out of their comfort zones, change, and grow will help us remain the best workplace in Việt Nam.
Nestlé places top priority on the safety, health, and connection of all employees. To facilitate these goals, the company has adopted a 4T strategy including Tài Chính (Finance), Tình cảm (Affection), Tinh thần (Spirit) and Thể chất (Fitness).
In terms of financials, the company offers competitive and performance-based compensation. Nestlé Vietnam believes this is important to start a good life for employees and their loved ones.
In terms of Affection, it encourages the team to dedicate their best. Nestlé Vietnam builds a culture of transparency and trust with the spirit of "one team – one goal" and the attitude of "positive criticism – quick agreement – unanimous implementation."
Regarding Spirit, the company nurtures a diverse and inclusive environment, encouraging employees to confidently accompany the leadership team towards common results and make meaningful contributions to society.
With regards to Fitness, all Nestlé Vietnam employees are equipped with the knowledge to become ambassadors for a healthy lifestyle.
This is also a testament to the working environment of Nestlé Vietnam, where every employee can #SparkYourWay to maximise their potential. They will be proud to be side by side with an excellent team of dedicated leaders and members who are constantly making efforts. Together, all employees can join hands with Nestlé in their daily efforts to improve the quality of life, contributing to a healthier and happier future for Vietnamese people.
We are committed to listening and improving our working environment to become The Nest of Choice, which nurtures diversity and creativity where every employee can maximise their potential based on sustainable long-term value. Thus, they will feel proud to belong to Nestlé Vietnam.”
Nestlé Vietnam has been also voted as the most sustainable enterprise in Vietnam in 2021 in the manufacturing sector by the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry. What do you make of this honour?
This is the third year Nestlé Vietnam has been named among the most sustainable companies in Việt Nam by the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development and the first year it has been named No.1, something we are extremely proud of.
I think we have earned this award for the work we have done and for the commitments we have made for the future.
On one hand, our holistic approach to sustainability has long set us apart. A lot of companies have flagship programmes on a particular facet of sustainability. All of these are important in their own right, but Nestlé has been pursuing sustainability through several wide-ranging projects that support and reinforce each other.
Nestlé is one of the few companies that have been pursuing sustainability based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. While we cannot support each goal to the same extent, it is a framework to channel our thinking and contributions to drive down poverty, improve health, and safeguard the planet.
On the other hand, we have made some very strong commitments in 2021, for example, by becoming the first company in Việt Nam. to announce plans to become plastic neutral by 2025.
This is a massive commitment over only three years. What roadmap will you follow to achieve it?
This is still a moving plan but we are confident we can do it by reducing plastics, establishing partnerships to collect plastics, and creating a market for orphaned plastic.
We have already made several commitments to reducing plastics in our products. For example, last year, we decided to make any plastic in our packaging in Việt Nam recyclable – and we are now around 95 per cent on the way to completing it.
We are also putting our products under the microscope to reduce our plastic consumption by as much as 33 per cent through research and development. We are already making headway, for example, we have reduced the plastic content of our La Vie bottles by 10 per cent by making them thinner and the caps smaller.
However, being recyclable is not the same as being recycled and there is a dire need for the appropriate systems for collection and reuse. We are supporting this by partnering with companies like TetraPak (for Milo) to see how we can collect back our packaging and repurpose it into useful things. We are also looking for partners who can find a use for orphaned plastic.
For instance, in 1,500 schools we encourage children to bring back empty cartons. We segregate the plastics and remake them into basketballs and benches for the schools and communities. This also helps educate children about the importance of recycling. If they start acting now with a sense of purpose and responsibility, the future will be in better hands. — VNS