An insight into BAT Malaysia’s talent conservation initiative

THAT British American Tobacco (M) Bhd is named Top Employer for 2021 by the Amsterdam-based Top Employer Institute – for the third consecutive year – is a sweet tribute considering how the country’s largest tobacco company juggles to conserve employment amid the current pandemic-stricken economy.

Even if the health crisis is deemed a temporary financial setback which is felt across all business spectrums, BAT Malaysia still has to endure industry-related challenges, notably illicit cigarettes sale which stood at 64.4% as of November last year and a rapid rise of illegal vaping products.

To re-cap, BAT Malaysia had endured two rounds of internal re-organisation which sadly entailed the shaving of its workforce in 2017 (when it had to shut down its manufacturing plant) and more recently in 2019 in the quest to ensure future business sustainability vis-à-vis strong financial position.

“This recognition is particularly important during these unprecedented times,” BAT Malaysia managing director Jonathan Reed pointed out.

“Talent is our most important asset. As such, we have to be creative and adaptable in our ways of keeping our teams, connected and engaged despite a global pandemic”.

BAT Malaysia currently employs 497 employees who are involved in a wide spectrum of non-manufacturing disciplines – from generating insights, developing brands and making these available on a national level.

With work from home in effect for a large part of the year, BAT Malaysia had to pivot and adapt to the new norm by leveraging digital and virtual tools to keep its entire workforce connected, engaged and motivated, according to Reed.

The Top Employer award recognises an organisation’s dedication to providing best-in-class employment practices, notably practices that allow employees to develop themselves personally and professionally while driving business results.

The award recognises BAT Malaysia’s focus on creating a culture of passionate employees who served the purpose of building a Better Tomorrow. It also reaffirms BAT Malaysia as a company that fosters a culture of diversity and inclusivity.

As part of a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recognising that mental wellness was as important as health, BAT Malaysia also introduced a new wellness programme called We Care to provide employees access to a wide range of health-related services, including psychologists, dieticians, and fitness coaches.

With its ongoing emphasis accelerate the development of its employees, BAT Malaysia will continue to champion development initiatives such as the Growth Academy programme (a 12-month intensive training programme for field service personnel), the Global Graduate Academy (a 12-month training programme for fresh graduates), and implement a new talent architecture to drive leadership behaviours across the organisation.

The Top Employer award adds to BAT Malaysia’s other human resource-related recognition such as the Life At Work 2019 Awards for Best International Organisation and Outstanding Practice – Initiative for Women in the Workforce. – March 1, 2021

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