Circle K Convenience Stores (HK)
Circle K Convenience Stores (HK) won the top award for its success in diversifying its frontline workforce to include many middle-aged women.
"Many of these women in their 40s and 50s were neglected in the job market previously," says human resource director Chris Wu. "They have a pleasant attitude and good work ethic. All they need is to adapt to a retailing environment and enrich their knowledge of new products, although the learning curve for some is steep.
"We have developed well-structured training programmes to help our frontline staff embrace these concepts at work and build them into our overall corporate culture. We aim to create a home atmosphere for all staff so that they are able to extend this to our customers." The convenience-store chain has introduced a mentoring scheme in which newly promoted managers, or those soon to be promoted, are assigned experienced managers as mentors. Managers are also encouraged to embrace the "boss" concept and take ownership.
"Because the frontline employees have the best knowledge of their customers' needs, they are able to make better decisions by taking ownership of the operation of their outlets. They also take the initiative to ask the back office for support to further improve services," Wu says. "The 'boss' concept is supported with a profit-sharing scheme benefiting all staff at individual outlets."
The "career ladder" training scheme is a two-pronged approach in which individual employees become motivated to take courses to upgrade their job-related skills. "For each position there are corresponding courses that individuals are required to complete and sit exams. When they pass the exams and have performed well at work, they are eligible for a promotion and salary increase," Wu says.