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‘Best employer’ accreditation for Fiat Chrysler

Career choice: Fiat Chrysler Group Australia human resources chief Mietta Gibson (right) receives a 2014 ‘best employer’ award from Mollie Kohn, a partner in Aon Hewitt’s ‘Talent Practice’.

Fiat Chrysler rated among ‘best employers’ in Australia as NTI named ‘best of best’

5 Jun 2014

FIAT Chrysler Group Australia is among 16 organisations from 120 participants in Australia and New Zealand to receive official accreditation this year as a ‘best employer’ in an annual program run by human resources and management consultancy Aon Hewitt.

Leading heavy commercial vehicle insurance firm National Transport Insurance was also a stand-out performer in this year’s program, receiving the coveted ‘best of the best’ award at a gala event in Sydney last week.

Operating since 2001, the ‘best employers’ program is billed as the largest employee research project and market practice audit in Australia and New Zealand.

Eligibility for accreditation involves completion of an employee opinion survey, a comprehensive ‘people practices inventory’, ‘people initiatives inventory’ and an organisational audit.

Using this qualitative and quantitative data, an independent judging panel then determines the ‘best employers’ and the ‘best of the best’ winner.

Accreditation is seen as a reflection of strong management and a highly engaged workforce, with employees who are connected to overall strategies of the organisation – such as sales goals and profitability – and are inspired and motivated to perform at their best for the company.

Fiat Chrysler last year became the first car-maker to appoint an Australian woman, Veronica Johns, as the head of its local operations.

Since taking over the Fiat and Alfa Romeo franchises from independent distributor Ateco Automotive in 2012, the company – which also handles the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands – has restructured its management team, expanded its workforce and dealer network, moved its headquarters to larger premises in Port Melbourne and brought logistics operations like parts and accessories in-house.

Actions in the marketplace such as new-model introductions, price cuts and big-budget advertising campaigns have brought substantial sales growth.

Backing up the ‘best employer’ accreditation Fiat Chrysler received last year, the results of the 2014 program indicate that this rapid expansion is not having a negative effect on performance or morale of its circa-90 employees based at Port Melbourne and three regional offices.

“The sensational feedback we received from staff by taking part in the survey is that they are very proud to be associated with our brands and our organisation,” said Fiat Chrysler Australia head of human resources, Mietta Gibson.

“People generally feel inspired to do their best work every day.”

The Australian subsidiary of the US auto giant has been participating in the Aon Hewitt program for several years and has seen its overall employee ‘engagement’ rating increase from 43 per cent in 2010 to 86 per cent in 2013 (the basis of this year’s accreditation).

Aon Hewitt says this comes down to Fiat Chrysler Australia’s “strong focus on improving work experiences for all segments of the organisation, as well as its commitment to improving engagement by ingraining it in the everyday work and culture of its people”.

Significantly, Fiat Chrysler achieved a 100 per cent engagement rating this year for the 25-34 ‘Gen Y’ age group.

“Fiat Chrysler Group has achieved remarkable success at engaging a demographic that is notoriously challenging,” Aon Hewitt said.

“The organisation’s environment is fast-paced, growth-focused, varied and challenging, and there is a strong emphasis on self-driven development.”

In awarding National Transport Insurance the ‘best of the best’ gong, the judges highlighted the company’s “empowerment of staff to increase engagement, use of employee engagement as a foundation for service differentiation, discipline in outlining the role of leaders, and creativity with career development”.

NTI chief executive Tony Clark said: “I am constantly in awe of our people and their willingness to go the extra mile.

“One of our customers recently said, ‘NTI has the experience of a large national company but with the focus of a family business.’“As an insurance company, most of our customers contact us when they have been involved in an accident or similar situation, so for customers to walk away with that feeling means our people are doing something special.

“I’m extremely proud that we have created an environment where our people are engaged, innovative and each contributing to make NTI a great place to work.”

Other accredited ‘best employers’ this year were salary packaging and novated leasing firm Smartsalary Pty Ltd, Bristol-Myers Squibb Australia, Chorus New Zealand Ltd, DDLS, DHL Express (New Zealand) Limited, FedEx Express (New Zealand), Frucor Beverages New Zealand, Hilti (Aust) Pty Ltd, Peoplebank Australia Limited, Select Solutions, Starlight Children's Foundation, STIHL Pty Ltd, Swinburne Online and Wood & Grieve Engineers.

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