Mars Wrigley’s sweet approach to re-designing work

Lucy Kuri, Vice President, People and Organisation for Global Emerging Markets, Mars Wrigley, talks to myGrapevine magazine about how the snacks and treats manufacturer is taking a unique approach to talent attraction and retention…

Words by Sophie Parrott

The fight for talent is a challenge most employers around the world are facing amid the Great Resignation – a term used to describe record numbers of people leaving their roles. Statistics from PwC have highlighted the extent of the problem, finding that one in five workers planned to quit globally in 2022. A separate poll of 160 HR leaders by Willis Towers Watson found that more than three-quarters have had problems finding and keeping hold of employees. On the backdrop of these challenges, it is important for employers to re-think their approaches to work to ensure that they are attracting, engaging and retaining the best possible talent.


A bit about Mars Wrigley

  • President: Andrew Clarke, Global President
  • Global HQ: Chicago
  • Employees: 34,000
  • Operations in: 180 markets
  • Mars acquired Wrigley in 2008
  • Mars Wrigley is investing US$1billion (£892 million) over a decade to build a new and sustainable supply chain model that will reshape the future of cocoa.
  • The green M&M gets its signature colour from a naturally-occurring compound in red cabbage that makes the true "Ms. Green" green – discovered by Mars Wrigley’s very own Colour Science team.

A sweet hiring tactic?

An example of a unique approach to talent attraction and recruitment can be seen at Mars Wrigley. In July 2022, the fast-moving consumer goods company, well-known for brands such as M&M’s and Snickers, rolled out the Loved One Interview in its Australian arm.

Essentially, this means that prospective talent in Australia is able to bring loved ones to the virtual interview process. At the time, Inside FMCG reported that the aim of this recruitment tactic was to highlight that family values are crucial in every sense, acknowledging that they can look different to each and every person. As such, jobseekers in Australia are able to bring direct relatives, or extended family members including friends or pets, into these virtual interviews.


It is certainly a more unusual step in the recruitment process, but one that appears to make sense from an HR perspective. Candidates are increasingly looking to join family-friendly organisations that value flexibility. This chimes with 2022 research commissioned by Mars Wrigley (via research organisation Pure Profile), which surveyed 1,000 Australians. The data found that 47% of Australians have resigned from their work, changed jobs, or turned down a job offer because it doesn’t align with their personal and family life. The survey – the results of which spurred Mars Wrigley on to launch the Loved One Interview initiative – found that 63% of people polled saw family life as being more important than ever following the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

What’s interesting about Mars Wrigley’s initiative is that it goes further than just telling candidates that they are a family-friendly and flexible employer. Instead, it gives prospective talent (and their loved ones) a flavour of what working life could be like at the firm to see whether it fits both their own and their family’s requirements.


Match made in heaven

Lucy Kuri, Vice President, People and Organisation for Global Emerging Markets, Mars Wrigley, explained to myGrapevine magazine that this initiative has been a good success so far because it really takes into account that family comes first, and helps candidates (and loved ones) find out whether the company is the right fit for their personal and family needs.

She explained, “We do business with a purpose because taking care of our associates is our number one priority. So, when we extend this in Australia, we also care about the family of our associates. The Loved One Interview campaign completely brings to life our core belief that we are here to listen and we are here to create the best place to work for our associates so that they can thrive and be themselves. It is very much connected with our strategy of equality and diversity,” Kuri added.

Lucy Kuri

Vice President, People and Organisation for Global Emerging Markets

‘Candied’ questions

But what is it that the loved ones are keen to find out? Kuri explained: “The most frequent questions are about flexible working conditions in order to arrange family necessities, for example, children.”

This is perhaps unsurprising given that data from Remote found that more than 76% of employees said that they want flexible working hours more than other benefits.

We also care about the family of our associates

Other questions coming from candidates in the first few weeks after the initiative’s launch included company culture (wanting to see examples that bring this to life in real terms), recognition (finding out how staff is recognised beyond financial compensation) and support (what Mars Wrigley provided, with a particular focus on health and belonging).

While loved ones are able to ask questions during these virtual interviews, Mars Wrigley previously explained that the information provided wouldn’t impact the outcome of the application. Instead, the aim of it is solely to ensure that candidates feel confident that the sweet manufacturer is a good match for both them and their loved ones.


Proof is in the pudding

So far, the campaign has seen some initial signs of success. Anecdotal evidence in the form of feedback from prospective candidates themselves appears to have been positive. One said: “The campaign is great, it made my family and I really think about what I would like from an employer, beyond the standard offerings.”

The most frequent questions are about flexible working conditions in order to arrange family necessities

Additionally, it appears to have built an appreciation that Mars Wrigley understands that having a good role is just one element in a person’s life, acknowledging that many are “juggling study, job, family” and that it is crucial to “emphasise the importance of family and good health”. These are all components that will help the confectionery giant to attract, engage and retain top talent.


Worldwide confections

Yet, this is not the only example of how Mars Wrigley is thinking uniquely about its approach to talent attraction and engagement. Over in Latin America North (which comprises Caribbean, Central America and Mexico) a new programme called the ‘60+ programme’ was launched. “It is posting on social media [platforms] with the objective of [attracting] older adults” to Mars Wrigley.

A final example can be seen in the Middle East/ Africa. “We also launched a campaign which is called Made by You.” Kuri explained that the campaign is proposed by associates working for Mars, who talk about what it means to work for the confectionery company via social media and in workshops – whether this is to do with development opportunities, flexibility or benefits offered. “[It] also tells the world what type of company we are and that is also attracting many people to apply to our business,” she added.

Do employers need to re-think work to attract, engage and retain top talent?

“That is a huge question. I think that is a key question and very important at this point in time. The answer is, yes.

There is no way to survive in companies and in the future if we are not re-thinking the way we are not only attracting, but also engaging and retaining our associates.

This is very much fronted by something that you will have heard about called The Great Resignation. There is a huge resignation all across the world.

I am the leader of people and organisation for our people and emerging markets in Mars Wrigley and we are seeing the same across all our markets.”


The future of Mars

The above are just three examples, of course, spread across some of Mars Wrigley’s global emerging markets of how the confectionery firm is taking a unique approach to talent attraction and retention.

“The Great Resignation continues and our strategies have focused on continuing the journey of listening and learning. [We have] to continue re-inventing and fixing the future of work according to what associates need,” Kuri said. “So, continuing to be very close to the organisation, living by the principles of our purpose-driven business in order to continue imaging the future of work that, is one strategy.”

There is no way to survive in companies and in the future if we are not re-thinking the way we are not only attracting, but also engaging and retaining our associates.

Additionally, she said that the people agenda is considering big investment in talent and development. “With the understanding of the future, and also the business strategy, the people agenda is considering very serious investment behind talent and development which are the capabilities of the future: how we need to invest in our culture in a way that [allows us to] continue to create the right and diverse place to work while we are training and developing our associates for a future that is mainly digital.”


Equity, inclusion and diversity continues to be another important pillar, according to Kuri. “The way to do this is that we are investing in a lot of education and training for all of our associates and senior leaders and bringing to life and incorporating inclusion and diversity in our talent and talent attraction proposition. And finally, we will continue to embrace our employee value proposition with what it means to work at Mars,” she said.

For the rest of the year, and into 2023, it is possible that HR will continue to experience labour shortages and challenges amid the Great Resignation. For those who are unsure about how to make their mark, they would be wise to take inspiration from the unique approaches adopted by Mars Wrigley to help attract, engage and retain top talent.

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