CHRO Community hears how Nando’s views employee wellbeing


At Nando’s, employee wellbeing is core to building resilience and is seen as a passport to thrive.

In this week’s CHRO Community Conversation, Nando's Chief People Officer, Lucia McMullan, shared how they are taking steps to enable holistic wellbeing to keep their employees fired up.

Lucia believes that many of the changes brought about by Covid-19 were heading our way regardless and that the pandemic sped up the inevitable.

She said that for many employers, including Nando’s, the topics of work-life balance, flexible work, remote work, and employee well-being are not new.

“Some of the change we see is a direct result of Covid but many of the changes are not related – our external environment and people and their needs change regardless of a pandemic. From Nando's perspective, we know that if we want to, not only be a top employer, but also a business that continues to grow, we have to respond and evolve with any change.”

Lucia explained Nando's approach by quoting the ancient philosopher, Socrates, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”.

Lucia said, “We have started building the ‘new’, not the ‘new normal’ just the ‘new”.
She explained that as a business, Nando’s has been very fortunate to rise out of the year that was, strong. “We are looking at unlocking new opportunities and in true Nando’s style, are focused on innovation, pulling our combined energy to build something for the future”.

Lucia shared five principles that Nando’s is applying when it comes to employee wellbeing:

  • A virtual employee experience is not necessarily a great employee experience: “To keep our brand and culture alive we realise that it is not about converting all face-to-face events into the same virtual event. Instead, we are asking ourselves what is the experience, the feeling that we were trying to create through a particular face-to-face interaction? And how do we go about creating that same experience, feeling and connection in this evolved world. The answer is hardly ever ‘by evolving it into a virtual event’.”

  • We are an Inside-Out Brand: This refers to how who they are on the inside, as a brand, is reflected on the outside. Lucia explained that this principle forms the foundation to their approach to wellbeing, “If our people are invested in their own wellbeing and we are enabling them on this journey, they not only give of their best for Nando’s and our customers, but also for their families and communities”

  • I am an individual first: Lucia explains “At Nando’s we call our employees ‘Nandocas’ and it creates a sense of belonging and connection to the brand. But we acknowledge that we employ individuals and we are a brand that encourages diversity. But it’s more than just race and gender, which is hugely important to us, it’s diversity in terms of personalities, ways of thinking and viewing the world.” She continued to say “We recognise that people are going through different things at different times and our wellbeing offering is designed as such. We are busy implementing a wellbeing ‘menu’, where our employees can gain access to various resources depending on what they need and where they are at personally.’’

  • It’s about the whole: “In order for us to allow our people to be the best versions of themselves, we need to consider the whole. We have 7,500 people working for the brand, each a complex individual. This has led us to a more holistic view of wellbeing.” She added that “Historically, we have focused on a couple of key areas and we are broadening that so that the whole person is considered on their wellbeing journey.”

  • Resilience to thrive: Lucia explains, “We are not alone in asking ourselves how we build resilience and ensure that when a crisis hits, our people are able to bounce back. Together with providing an opportunity for employment and offering benefits to facilitate the move from earning a minimum wage to earning a ‘living wage’, we see employee wellbeing as being core to resilience and think of it as a passport to thrive.”

The community agreed that they are all still trying to figure out things with all the changes that have come with the pandemic.
After Lucia’s presentation, the CHROs in attendance shared their views on employee wellbeing.

Market HR cluster head at Google Avanthi Maharaj said, “I wish I could say we have it pegged down in terms of getting the balance right but it's a learning journey and we are trying to see what works for individuals. Yes, there is a company approach and ethos that we are very conscious of, and has led us to implement global reset days off from last year, a no meetings weeks, focus days and a few other creative options as the health, safety and well-being of our entire Google community remains our top priority guiding all these efforts.”

Tiger Brand’s CHRO S’ne Magagula said the FMCG company is still learning and trying to find the balance in getting things right, “We are also still figuring it out, our people are not homogenous. We have people in the office environments and people at the plants but certainly, their health, safety and wellbeing are our number-one priority. Everyone has access to support; we have a wellbeing programme called THRIVE available to everyone across the organisation and their families. And it’s not just about wellbeing in terms of the traditional physical and emotional wellbeing but about proactively helping people manage their mental health and that of their families.”

Ncumisa Mtshali, the head of HR at Bryte SA also concurred, saying, “We are all on a journey, you can never say you have arrived at your destination. Wellbeing is a very key focus this year for us with focus on mental, social and emotional wellbeing due to the pandemic. We have always focused on physical wellbeing. We have a WhatsApp group where we do exercises, we have personal trainers and a gym at the workplace. We have had to ask ourselves how we add other elements to create a holistic wellbeing programme that speaks to individuals because we have different needs from a wellbeing perspective.

“We are very fortunate to have a CEO, board and exco that fully supports the people agenda. I don’t recall any meeting that doesn’t start with a people agenda. All meetings start with it because the key focus is how we continue to have happy people at work.”

She added that they have a couple of guiding principles and an EVP that is very strong that guides how they carry out their wellness plan from an organisational perspective and are very clear on what they stand for as an organisation. They also have a leadership ethos that says you must lead with legitimacy and nothing else.

“It’s not about the position and what you have been given, it's about you exercising specific things that will allow people to be free to come and talk to you” she concluded.

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