There are three key factors that Marcus Blackmore has focused on to drive sustainable growth in his natural health business, Blackmores, writes Caroline Moait
A concerted and sustained focus on three key elements: people, product and passion, have been critical to the stellar commercial success of natural health company Blackmores, according to its executive director, Marcus Blackmore.
Blackmores is currently one of Australia’s top 100 companies and posted a net profit of $58 million in 2017.
With more than 1000 employees in Australia alone, the company has come a long way since it started out with just 12 employees.
The right people
Critical to this growth has been a keen focus on people, and Blackmore said that a successful business and a successful culture go hand-in-hand.
“The biggest failure in management is not understanding the value of people,” he said.
“Our people are our most valuable asset.”
According to Blackmore, the main focus of a company’s HR department should be to “make people happy”.
He attributed his understanding of corporate culture to his late father, Maurice Blackmore, who founded the company in the 1930s.
“My father taught me the fundamentals of people”, said Blackmore, who explained that a strong corporate culture has been vital to the company’s ongoing success.
“The biggest failure in management is not understanding the value of people”
“One thing I have done in the past 50 years is having an absolute focus on culture within the organisation”, Blackmore said.
To help support this, Blackmores hires employees who demonstrate its shared values including integrity, respect, leadership, social responsibility and a passion for natural health.
It is also important to have leaders who demonstrate these values in order to maintain success.
“Having people in your senior management who set an example and share those values is more important than anything else,” Blackmore said.
To help support its culture and the role of management in this, frequent communication is important in managing and meeting expectations.
“We’ll meet once a month to communicate the challenges we are facing, so that everyone is informed and it’s a transparent process”, Blackmore said.
A compelling product
The next most important ingredient of Blackmores’ success is a compelling product, which needs to be capable of driving sales, released at the right time and in the right market.
However, Blackmore said success cannot simply be measured by profit alone.
In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, a company’s product is simply not enough for it to be guaranteed sales success.
“You’ve got to have the right product; that is obvious, but you also need passionate people.”
Passion breeds success
One of the most crucial elements for HR professionals to consider in the recruitment process is hiring employees who are passionate about what they do.
“You need people who are prepared to get out of bed in the morning and say ‘I’m happy to go to work,’”, he said.
“One thing I have done in the past 50 years is having an absolute focus on culture within the organisation”
Passionate workers are motivated to achieve and are constantly aiming towards larger goals. Passion also cultivates a positive working environment within organisations, and encourages workers to go above and beyond their regular duties.
“If people are happy, the output increases and positivity increases,” said Blackmore, who offered a final piece of recruitment advice.
“You should always employ people that are smarter than you,” he said.
“I am a wealthy man, but how did I get wealthy?
“Because other people did the work for me. My job is to look after my people, and they will look after me. It’s that simple.”
5 HR initiatives to drive engagement
Blackmores’ HR team have implemented a range of initiatives to help reaffirm the company’s strong culture. These include:
- An employee wellness centre. Employees can participate in activities such as yoga, pilates and exercise in the company gym, massage and naturopathy treatments, and swimming in a 20-metre lap pool. Recreational activities such as these assist in improving communication between employees, and can drive passion by enriching employee experience.
- Employee reward systems. Blackmores rewards employees with champagne when they make a good business decision, and on every birthday. “We give employees a bottle of champagne for their anniversary with a note that says ‘Thanks for another great year at Blackmores,’” he said.
- Staff liaison committee. This committee provides a strong, two-way communication system between Blackmores employees and management, to help ensure an effective working relationship among staff.
- Division of profits. Twice a year, Blackmores shares 10 per cent of profits among employees. In 2017, employees received 44 days of bonus pay as a result.
- Employee assistance programs. Blackmores provides free counselling services, where employees can seek professional help regarding personal problems.
Image source: Hayden Brotchie