Tate & Lyle has always been a place for explorers and experimenters, and we want everyone to ‘find their innovator and disruptor within’. This means having the courage to experiment, share ideas openly, and respond quickly. Read more about how we are creating a dynamic and ambitious culture in the below excerpt from our 2022 Annual Report .
This was a year of significant change for our people, and they stepped up to the challenges they faced with purpose, resilience and agility.
THRIVING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
Our people are the heartbeat of our company – they are passionate about our purpose and passionate about making Tate & Lyle a successful business and a great place to work. We asked a lot of them this year – separating the Group into two standalone businesses during a global pandemic, while experiencing high customer demand and supply chain disruption – and they delivered time and time again. This was all the more creditable because they started the year already exhausted from living through the first year of the pandemic and had to find new reserves of strength to get through another year of lockdowns and restrictions.
But in the end, we did far more than ‘get through’. We thrived as a business, not least because we learnt a number of things during the first year of Covid-19 which benefited us in the second. More personal, connected and open ways of communicating. The empowerment of our local leadership. Our ability to serve our customers in a more agile way and to connect with them using technology. And, of course, the resilience of our people.
Guided by our purpose, we continued to prioritise keeping each other safe and well inside and outside work. Our front-line staff continued to operate our plants safely and efficiently, despite skeleton crews and ongoing pandemic protocols, ensuring that we kept our customers served. Our office-based staff continued to adapt to homeworking, coming up with new ways of staying connected. Our commercial and innovation teams found ever more creative ways of staying close to and supporting our customers. And we did not forget our local communities – colleagues across the world spent more time giving back to those who faced hardships from the pandemic. It was a year like no other and once again, our people stepped up.
SEPARATING THE BUSINESS WHILE DOING THE DAY JOB
Separating the company into two standalone businesses during the year was an immense task. To do this in just eight months, while delivering strong financial results, is a tremendous achievement for all the people involved, many of whom worked on the separation while doing their day job. While it was a lot of hard work, it also presented opportunities for people to take on new roles and develop new skills which will serve them well in the future and support both companies as they focus on the growth opportunities ahead.
It was also an unsettling time because change, however exciting, is challenging. A key priority, particularly for our leadership team, was open and honest communication. A lot of time was spent on video calls, in townhalls and face-to-face meetings with people, explaining why we were separating the two businesses and what it meant for our people both collectively and for individuals’ roles. We were pleased that employees on the whole were supportive and excited about the future, and understood that the two separate companies would bring new opportunities for personal and collective development.
A CULTURE OF AMBITION AND EXPERIMENTATION
Separating into two businesses was a bold move, and that sense of boldness, ambition and innovation is something we want to make a central part of our culture moving forward. Tate & Lyle has always been a place for explorers and experimenters, and we want everyone to ‘find their innovator and disruptor within’.
This means having the courage to experiment, share ideas openly, and respond quickly. To this end, we have defined four new behaviours, explained in the box below, to support our three values of safety, integrity and respect.
CREATING A DYNAMIC AND AMBITIOUS CULTURE
We have introduced four new behaviours to underpin our growing culture of innovation and experimentation.
Ask questions; listen without judgement; look up and out to bring in fresh perspectives
Invite it; be open to feedback; call out alternatives to improve; say what’s needed in the moment
Know when to step in or when to trust others; bring creativity to constraints; remove obstacles for others
Stand proud behind ideas that inspire; be more ambitious; see mistakes as fuel for learning
Caring for our people’s physical and mental health is central to our purpose. This is shown in many ways, not least by our health and wellbeing purpose target, which is measured through our annual employee survey each year. This year, 71% of our employees told us that we actively supported their wellbeing. This was slightly lower than the 75% reported last year, mainly due to weariness and frustration from a second year of pandemic restrictions. We will be working hard to improve this score in the year ahead. Wellbeing is also a core element of our Journey to EHS Excellence (J2EE) programme (see more on page 52).
Through J2EE, teams at each of our sites track what’s being done to care for the wellbeing of our employees through initiatives such as training events, healthy eating information, running groups and education sessions.
The Covid-19 pandemic made it more important than ever that we support the physical and mental health of our people. For many, the past year continued to be a time of ongoing uncertainty and relentless challenge – working at home or working in very different circumstances in our plants; for some, the difficulties of combining home-schooling children with work; and for others, isolation. Our aim was to remain supportive and compassionate throughout, doing whatever was needed for people’s individual circumstances.
We continued to encourage people and their families to use our free counselling service, offered as part of our global Employee Assistance Programme. The number of volunteer Mental Health First Aiders also increased – we now have more than 70 globally across Tate & Lyle.
As last year, the example of our leadership team was essential in setting the tone, demonstrating support and compassion for people’s individual circumstances. Through regular virtual cafés, our leaders were open about their own challenges, and encouraged their teams to do the same. We also supported employees’ own initiatives – it was great to see so many teams coming together for yoga sessions, coffee mornings, and singing or exercise groups.
STEPPING UP OUR COMMUNICATIONS
Technology has permeated everyone’s working lives since the pandemic started, and continued to be hugely important in enabling the frequent, informal, local conversations that have been so critical in keeping everyone connected.
The business separation project added new urgency to the necessity for frequent, open communication, as people wanted information about what was happening, reassurance about the future, and the opportunity to ask questions. Our leaders continued to use virtual cafés to connect with colleagues, as well as encouraging discussion and debate through our internal social media channels. We established a dedicated team to plan, prepare and deliver all our communications throughout the business separation process. This involved, amongst other things, regular email messages and videos from Nick Hampton and members of the Executive Committee. They discussed key aspects of the transformation to enerate excitement about the future of both Tate & Lyle and Primient. The separation into two companies also meant separating our communication channels, with new intranets built for both companies.