Link Group 2018 Sustainability Report
CLIENT: Link Group
PUBLISHED: Link Group website
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: 2018 Sustainability Report
CREATED: August 2018
AUTHOR: Fallon Dasey
Link Group has long understood that its people are its greatest asset. Having a committed and engaged workforce that enjoys coming to work each day helps us provide customers with the high standards of service and innovation they expect. This, in turn, helps to grow our business and brings greater value to shareholders. It is a true win-win proposition.
We believe the key to employee engagement lies in ongoing communication with staff and regularly assessing their connection to our core values and goals. We also invest heavily in training and education, actively strive to have a diverse and inclusive workforce and maintain a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program of which employees, customers and shareholders can be proud.
In FY2018, the LAS acquisition helped to grow the total number of Link Group employees to more than 7,000 – up from about 4,300 a year earlier. We now have operations in 18 jurisdictions including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, India, South Africa, the UAE, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Jersey, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland and Italy.
Employee Engagement Survey
As part of our efforts to constantly improve our workplace culture and involve employees in the task of developing our business, we undertook an Employee Engagement Survey in FY2018. This involved asking staff in each of Link Group’s offices globally about their experience of working for us, their perceptions of our strengths and where we could improve, and their sense of involvement in our strategies. It was an enlightening exercise that provided us with an excellent baseline for planned future Employee Engagement Surveys. The results also helped us to create a clear roadmap for further developing our culture, growing our people, and ensuring we have the skills and equipment to continue to thrive.
The three key strategies to emerge from the survey are: the creation of a LinkPurpose Statement; the development of a OneLink program aimed at increasing cohesion across our four business divisions; and the development of a FutureLink program to ensure our technology and skills remain at the cutting edge.
Link Group has grown in recent years through a number of strategic acquisitions that have expanded our global reach and our offering to customers. The OneLink program aims to ensure that employees in different organisations across the world understand our comprehensive products and services to support our clients and stakeholders. Plans are underway to further develop our employees’ understanding of the wider business through a new Re-Onboarding program. Based on a similar model to our successful Customer First course for new employees, the program will familiarise existing staff with the broad range of Link Group companies, products and services, and support them with team building.
We developed our LinkPurpose Statement in consultation with our people.
For our employees, having a clear understanding of our purpose and shared goals is essential for them to be able to perform at their peak and support our clients and stakeholders. After comprehensive consultation across the organisation, a purpose statement was developed and approved by the Board in 2018. Our LinkPurpose Statement – “Together we achieve…” – articulates the partnership we have with our employees, clients and other stakeholders in achieving goals that help everyone succeed. The key focus areas that underpin the statement are that Link Group provides quality service to its customers, protects the data of its customers as
if it were its own, and provides expertise and value-add services to its clients and customers. The essence of the Link Group Purpose Statement reflects our DNA:
Together we” achieve…
Link Group understands that its future success is dependent on investment in people and remaining at the forefront of technology and data security. The FutureLink program, introduced in FY2018, is working to facilitate this by ensuring we have the equipment and technological knowledge necessary to remain an industry leader.
The FutureLink program also involves a significant investment in our people. Link Group will launch a Learning Academy to further develop the skillset of our top managers. Work will be carried out over the next two to three years to develop the academy, which will cater for our senior leaders across Link Group globally.
A key initiative in FY2018 was the creation of the Growth Academy. One outcome of the new academy has been an increased emphasis on cross-team collaboration. Greater numbers of staff are now working together on projects, proposals and client opportunities. This has resulted in Link Group winning more new business and receiving positive feedback from clients, prospects, bids and other external engagement points. So far, more than
500 days of Growth Academy training has been delivered and some 80% of senior leaders and sales teams have been through the program in the UK. The plan is to roll out the model in Australia in FY2019.
Beyond our planned and existing academies, Link Group continues to invest in a number of training programs for staff. In FY2018, the Client Excellence program was rolled out to the Corporate Markets division, supporting employees to learn from their own experiences and expectations and improve accountability for professional delivery aligned to client needs.
The past 12 months have also seen more than 56,000 training hours dedicated to our compliance training program, an average of 7.5 hours per employee. The program ensures that staff follow Link Group’s internal policies and that they fully comply with the local laws and regulations wherever we operate. This approach allows us to continue to foster a professional environment and to ensure that our behaviour towards our employees, clients and shareholders is aligned to our core values.
Diversity and Inclusion
Link Group understands that diverse groups – comprising people with different experiences, ethnicities, genders and sexualities – tend to be more productive than homogeneous ones. We are continually striving to ensure that our employee base reflects the make-up of the companies we serve as well as their end customers, both throughout Australia and the rest of the world, and have recently appointed a dedicated Diversity and Inclusion Manager to support this commitment.
As at FY2018 end, our Board is 37.5% female, putting it ahead of the 30% target set for female directors in S&P/ASX 200 companies by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. At the executive level, 40% of the senior executive team is female. Link Group’s targets which were set in 2016 are for 42% of senior leaders, 33% of senior technical specialists and 45% of line managers to be women by FY2019.
We have a process of continually reviewing pay data for gender parity across similar positions and make adjustments where necessary. Our parental leave scheme supports both mothers and fathers who wish to take time off after the birth of a child.
State-of-the-art, healthy workplaces make a significant contribution to the satisfaction and productivity of employees, as well as to their ability to engage with the needs of clients. Link Group has a focus on creating excellent amenities and on building centralised hubs where staff can come together to work. Our refurbished George Street premises in Sydney reopened in the second half of 2017, providing staff with a bright, comfortable working space.
Link Group has also recently secured new premises in Parramatta Square, with our Rhodes operations scheduled to relocate there in mid-2021. In keeping with our offices globally, the new Parramatta Square premises will continue to encourage innovation and collaboration with our clients. The premises will feature the third of our LinkLabs, a technologically advanced space for ideation, product development and client forums. We conducted extensive research that showed Parramatta has become a location of choice for our people, thanks to its proximity to transport and desirable amenities, coupled with a significant government-led infrastructure program currently underway.
Wellbeing and Safety
One in five Australians experience mental illness in any given year, with serious flow-on effects for both business productivity and an individual’s personal happiness. To help promote better mental health in the workplace, Link Group has begun a pilot program in partnership with Smiling Mind, a not-for-profit organisation promoting mindfulness. Program participants have taken part in four interactive workshops and are now using a dedicated app to help them develop skills to manage their minds more effectively, to enhance resilience skills and to improve social connections. The outcomes will be analysed with a view to rolling the program out to the wider organisation.