Hol­lard is a pur­pose-driven or­gan­i­sa­tion

The pur­pose of the com­pany is to cre­ate a bet­ter fu­ture for ev­ery­one

Mail & Guardian - - Top Employers - Kamini Ma­haraj

In his sem­i­nal 2009 TED Talk, au­thor Si­mon Sinek said: “Every sin­gle per­son, every sin­gle or­gan­i­sa­tion on the planet, knows what they do, 100%. Some know how they do it — whether you call it your dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing value propo­si­tion, or a pro­pri­etary process or your USP [unique sell­ing propo­si­tion] — but very few peo­ple or or­gan­i­sa­tions know WHY they do what they do. By why, I don’t mean to make a profit; that’s a re­sult, it’s al­ways a re­sult. I mean what’s your pur­pose, what’s your cause, what’s your be­lief? Why does your or­gan­i­sa­tion ex­ist? Why do you get out of bed in the morn­ing? And why should any­one care?”

His con­clu­sion was that all the great and in­spir­ing lead­ers and or­gan­i­sa­tions in the world start from this con­cept of “Why” and then de­ter­mine how and what they will do. This res­onates strongly with a per­spec­tive that we at Hol­lard have held since we opened our doors in 1980. That why we do what we do; it’s at the very heart of ev­ery­thing we do.

Hol­lard’s pur­pose is to “en­able more peo­ple to cre­ate and se­cure a bet­ter fu­ture” and this is nowhere more ev­i­dent than in our HR prac­tices. Although we have only re­cently ar­tic­u­lated this pur­pose, the sen­ti­ments that in­form it have guided our every ac­tion from the start.

Im­pli­ca­tions for Hol­lardites

When we re­fer to en­abling more peo­ple, we are re­fer­ring not only to our cus­tomers, but also to our part­ners and sup­pli­ers and the com­mu­ni­ties in which we op­er­ate. Our pur­pose is to en­able all of these groups to cre­ate a bet­ter fu­ture for them­selves. But most im­por­tantly, it is also about our em­ploy­ees (we call them Hol­lardites).

To en­able more Hol­lardites and their fam­i­lies to cre­ate and se­cure a bet­ter fu­ture, we have de­vel­oped a set of “peo­ple” goals, as a sub­set of our broader or­gan­i­sa­tional goals. These goals will help us achieve ex­cep­tional, sus­tain­able and in­clu­sive growth by en­sur­ing the re­cruit­ment, de­vel­op­ment and re­ten­tion of qual­ity tal­ent and by en­sur­ing that Hol­lardites feel en­gaged and mo­ti­vated at all times. The goals are un­der­pinned by the idea of treat­ing ev­ery­one with care and dig­nity, some­thing that res­onates deeply with Hol­lardites.

Learn­ing and De­vel­op­ment at Hol­lard

Agility is fun­da­men­tal to an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s suc­cess, and hence it is no sur­prise that Hol­lard has iden­ti­fied “learn­ing on the fly” as one of our core com­pe­ten­cies. In ad­di­tion, we recog­nise the need for Hol­lardites to be able to nav­i­gate an in­creas­ingly com­plex world of work, and as­sess and de­velop com­pe­ten­cies such as deal­ing with am­bi­gu­ity and para­dox.

Hol­lard also has a unique per­spec­tive on lead­er­ship, be­liev­ing that all Hol­lardites are lead­ers. As a re­sult, our lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes are avail­able to all Hol­lardites, who are each asked “to be a leader and own your ac­tions!” Em­bed­ded in the prin­ci­ples of neu­ro­science, the main lead­er­ship pro­gramme is ap­pro­pri­ately called Sy­napse, and it teaches Hol­lardites how to de­velop new neu­ral path­ways to guar­an­tee that new habits are formed.

Hol­lard be­lieves in the power of di­ver­sity of thinking, so creat­ing a di­verse and mul­ti­cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tion is at the heart of ev­ery­thing we do. This is re­flected, in­ter alia, through our Women’s “Lead­HER­ship” pro­gramme, which is aimed at de­vel­op­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of women lead­ers for our busi­ness, in line with our aim to en­sure equal gen­der rep­re­sen­ta­tion at lead­er­ship lev­els.

We also un­der­stand the value of lead­ers play­ing coach­ing and men­tor­ship roles. As a re­sult we run a co­hort of men­tor­ship pro­grammes, us­ing both in-house men­tors (a group of trained ex­ec­u­tives) and ex­ter­nal coaches, who sup­port var­i­ous re­quire­ments of the pro­gramme.

Tal­ent mo­bil­ity pro­gramme

In or­der to en­able our am­bi­tious in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion strat­egy, we re­cently in­tro­duced a tal­ent mo­bil­ity pro­gram. Our strat­egy is to de­velop lo­cal tal­ent in each mar­ket by plac­ing into these en­vi­ron­ments sea­soned in­ter­na­tional tal­ent, with the abil­ity to trans­fer key in­sur­ance skills. Em­ploy­ees with as­pi­ra­tions of work­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally are able to put their hands up for the mo­bil­ity pro­gramme and we as Hol­lard sup­port suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants with the tran­si­tion, ori­en­ta­tion and in­te­gra­tion into each coun­try. We cur­rently have Hol­lardites on as­sign­ment in Namibia, Botswana, Mozam­bique, Zam­bia, Ghana, In­done­sia and China.

The use of tech­nol­ogy

In this dig­i­tal era, con­sumers gen­er­ally pre­fer to trans­act through mo­bile de­vices and on­line plat­forms, and our em­ployee base is no dif­fer­ent. As or­gan­i­sa­tions search for the most ef­fec­tive and cost-con­scious ways of reach­ing em­ploy­ees, more busi­nesses are lever­ag­ing mo­bile con­nec­tiv­ity and vir­tual work­ing tools such as video con­fer­enc­ing to min­imise travel costs.

Hol­lard has em­barked on a jour­ney to digi­tise em­ployee de­vel­op­ment and en­gage­ment, while re­tain­ing the idea that tech­nol­ogy should sup­port and en­able busi­ness de­ci­sions, rather than re­plac­ing the per­sonal con­tact that in­forms bet­ter work­ing re­la­tion­ships. We en­cour­age the use of SMS, on­line chan­nels and tools such as Skype for busi­ness com­mu­ni­ca­tion, in or­der to im­prove em­ployee de­vel­op­ment and en­gage­ment across work­forces. This also helps with real-time learn­ing, on-the-spot con­sul­ta­tion, and on-the-job de­vel­op­ment. We also have a flag­ship Mas­sive Open On­line Course that we run for all em­ploy­ees where they can un­der­take any e-learn­ing pro­gram.


In clos­ing, Hol­lard’s recog­ni­tion that over­all fi­nan­cial well­be­ing is par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult to achieve for Hol­lardites at the lower lev­els of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, means that learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment in­ter­ven­tions must ex­tend be­yond em­ploy­ees them­selves. As a re­sult, and as part of our quest for sus­tain­able so­cial im­pact, we have de­vel­oped a bur­sary pro­gramme, as well as in­tern­ship and learn­er­ship pro­grammes open to the chil­dren of Hol­lardites at cer­tain lev­els of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

We have been hum­bled by the im­pact of these pro­grammes on Hol­lardites, on their fam­i­lies, and on their home com­mu­ni­ties in gen­eral. It ap­pears we are truly en­abling more peo­ple to cre­ate and se­cure a bet­ter fu­ture.

The com­pany strives to en­sure that ‘Hol­lardites’ are treated with care and dig­nity. Photo: Supplied

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