Q&A with Paula S. Larson Chief Human Resources Officer

What are some of your top priorities as Chief of Human Resources?

The key to continuing our growth as a company and sustaining strong quarter-over-quarter results is to build an “I want to work here” culture that fosters an environment where we can make our brands matter, while offering employees careers that matter. Talent acquisition and a high retention rate of strong talent are critical to achieving our Growth Game Plan objectives.


Where do you start that process?

Historically, many global organizations, including Newell Rubbermaid, have focused on talent management approaches that are similar to a procurement organization. Managing both internal and external hiring was focused heavily on time to fill a role and cost. To attract and retain the caliber of talent we believe is vital to our success, we have begun evolving our approach to talent management. We want to treat talent management as a marketing opportunity where we align career and development opportunities with the key talent we want on our team. We are building a reputation for developing great talent and building teams for growth. We want our marketing of roles to be so transparent that only those employees who want to work in a high-performance, continuous-improvement environment with an innovation-inspired culture want to join or stay.

We are especially passionate about truly incorporating diversity throughout every aspect of our HR product and services. Our marketing of Newell sets a clear expectation that great talent from a variety of backgrounds, with the skills and abilities to deliver value to the company and shareholders, is welcome and empowered to contribute. They have a voice. I am passionate about my role as “chief employee advocate.” I believe that treating people well and delivering great results to shareholders are not mutually exclusive concepts.


The key to continuing our growth as a company and sustaining strong quarter-over-quarter strong results is to build an “I want to work here” culture that fosters an environment where we can make our brands matter, while offering employees careers that matter.


 

What is the company doing to help foster an “I want to work here” culture?

Our employee engagement surveys have offered us incredible insights about the kind of culture we want to foster to deliver great business results and attract and retain incredible people. We decided to take a page from great Brand Marketing and created an “Employee Insights Team” that includes core, regional and volunteer team members. These teams got together all over the world following principles of consumer insights used by our Marketing team to capture employee insights beyond the survey. We wanted to ensure we had a very vibrant, action-taking approach to moving toward the high-performance culture we want to foster and sustain. These teams captured three key areas we need to focus on to drive employee engagement ‘through the roof.’ Our three focus areas are called “Map Your Career,” “Great Place to Work” and “Focus on Our People.” Recommendations on how to tackle improvements in these focus areas were presented to our Executive Leadership Team, and our ExLT has continued to support this more empowered approach to driving true culture change and improvement globally. The engagement solutions we implement are a direct result of the valuable input we receive from employee representatives across the globe in coordination with our Human Resources team.

We launched Performance Plus, a platform that links pay to performance and helps employees drive their own personal growth, as well as the Growth Game Plan.

Our new Talent Roadmap succession planning process enables us to better identify and cultivate high potential within the organization. And My GPS, a new career development tool, helps employees plan and navigate their professional development.

Studies have shown that opportunities for job enrichment and professional development are among the top drivers of employee engagement, and we want to be sure we are encouraging key talent to grow their careers at Newell Rubbermaid as we grow this exciting company beyond our current results.


What are your thoughts on diversity?

It is important with such diverse markets that our employee base closely reflects our consumers worldwide. We believe that an “I want to work here” culture will go a long way toward achieving and maintaining that goal. To leverage the power of diversity means it is not just a “procurement” exercise, but that diversity is embedded in all of our people practices. Also, we are finding that embedding diversity in the community with our service and philanthropic work helps build partnerships purposefully with a diverse group of partners.

Having spent years focused on how to grow a high-performance, diverse workforce, my team and I believe passionately that the best ideas and results come from harnessing the efforts of a rich diversity of colleagues. It’s just good business and great corporate citizenship in our communities, plain and simple.


What role does corporate responsibility play in building an “I want to work here” culture?

The company has to be visible and active in our communities around the world, so we encourage our people to serve where they live. In turn, our neighbors can see the caliber of our employees, and we can build goodwill through community service and philanthropy.


How will you judge the success of your Human Resources strategy?

We’ll measure our success by action and outcomes, not sound bites. Our ability to hire and retain a high-performance, global, diverse workforce is a critical enabler to driving accelerated performance under the Growth Game Plan. We are going to deliver exciting, career-making roles for those employees who want to embrace a high-performance, continuous-improvement environment where we find great ways to provide exciting products to our customers and consumers worldwide. As a brand- and innovation-led company, we will keep innovation at the core of all our functions — not just R&D and Marketing. We will not only track our engagement survey results, but have other key performance indicators embedded in all HR product and services offerings. I am optimistic about our journey ahead and committed to our future.