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Fonterra 'matchmaking' service to transform workplace

Fonterra employees will be able to spend up to a third of their time on projects outside their day jobs in what is believed to be a New Zealand-first initiative.

Fonterra’s ‘amp’, short for amplify, is an innovative new approach to working that is set to change the face of employment in the Co-op. Using a gig-economy type approach, employees will be empowered to work on internal projects outside their normal role, based on their individual skills or areas of interest.

“As well as supporting our peoples’ career development, amp will give Fonterra a competitive advantage by enabling us to harness the enormous breadth of skills across our workforce. It’s about amplifying the potential of our Co-op through the talent of our people,” says Judith Swales, Chief Operating Officer Velocity & Innovation.

“With amp, our people have the chance to upskill and work on something completely different to their day jobs across areas where they either have a special interest or a particular skill.”

Fonterra’s amp is powered by a web-based app that enables employees to build a profile and match their experience and expertise to listings of internal projects.

Similar programmes run internationally by companies such as Google and 3M have shown to increase engagement, enhance careers and lead to new innovations. 3M’s programme resulted in top-selling products, including the Post-it note.

“As far as we know, Fonterra is the only organisation in New Zealand actively exploring this unique and innovative approach to driving employee satisfaction,” adds Ms Swales.

Starting off as a pilot, amp covered projects such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual bakery stores in Asia and sustainability initiatives. It is now available to all 22,000 employees across the globe.

“Results from our pilot showed that amp not only lifts employee engagement, but it also brings in innovative ideas from more diverse groups. It has helped people develop new career paths and has opened doors.

“It doesn’t matter where you work, how you work or what level you’re at – amp is about giving every employee the flexibility to expand their careers. It might be a few hours, days or weeks spent on a project outside of their current role, which helps to develop their skills and network.”

The initiative is part of Fonterra’s wider effort to build capabilities and prepare for the ever-evolving nature of work. Last year, the Co-op won a Deloitte award for its other internal programme Disrupt, which allows employees to pitch new business ideas to the CEO.

“We’re investing in the growth of our people. Having the capability and appetite to continually grow will help every one of us be in the best position for the future. We all need to be lifelong learners,” says Ms Swales.

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