Career Advice HR Focus

Team recipes at Lee Kum Kee

The Olympic Games are back and with them, sport is once again the talk of town. For Lee Kum Kee, one of the largest sauce manufacturers in Hong Kong, however, sport is not simply a one-off event. We see sport as a vital element in uniting and strengthening the bonds between staff. Our long-standing commitment to dragon boat events has seen our staff teams successfully work together to win a number of prizes.

Founded in 1888 in Guangdong province by Lee Kum-sheung, Lee Kum Kee has grown from a local family business into a multinational firm that employs more than 8,000 staff in branches in mainland China, North America, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Pragmatism, integrity, considering others’ interests and constant entrepreneurship are the four core values of our company.

I think it is important for our staff to balance health, family and career, which is why we are so engaged in dragon boat racing. We believe good health and a harmonious family life are the two driving forces behind a successful career.

“Consider others’ interests” is something we tell our staff all the time. If everyone is able to stand in another’s shoes and care about the feelings of others then everyone will benefit.

To unite staff and inspire them to think about the company’s success story, all local staff and representatives from overseas branches gather for a day in April to visit the grave of Lee Kum-sheung, the founder of Lee Kum Kee.

I see this event as a platform to build teamwork. The event is hosted by staff and provides a chance for workers from different departments to get together. It is also a great opportunity for staff from various regions to interact with one another.

Our dragon boat racing team is a great way to unite staff and help them stay physically fit. Established in 1998, the team now has 120 members from Hong Kong and the mainland. The team has participated in international dragon boat competitions in Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia.

During Tuen Ng Festival this year, the team won the Taipei Office TECO Cup Final in the Men’s Division A and the Stanley Plaza Mixed Bronze Cup B Final in the Mixed Division at the Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships 2012.

We believe that effective management is finding the right person for the right job. We offer opportunities to staff that suit the job regardless of his or her rank. For staff with high potential, we provide them with chances to job rotate between departments or transfer overseas to broaden their horizons.

Chinese culture is a core value of our company and we care for our staff like family. There is no hierarchy in the company – top management often meet with staff for lunch in the canteen.

For staff learning and development, we are dedicated to providing tailor-made courses to fit the training needs of the individual. From general staff up to director grades there are courses for everyone. Staff can learn technical skills like how to edit photos and there are courses on leadership skills for managers.

I am proud to say that staff at Lee Kum Kee are extremely loyal. They are loyal because they share the same values as the company. We have staff that have served the company for 60 years. Many have been with us for more than 10 years. Our staff turnover rate has stayed in single digits for many years.

Staff are keen to learn more. Many participate in job rotation and jump at the chance to work overseas. Our American president is a prime example of someone who has benefited from overseas working experience. He was from Hong Kong and decided to transfer to the US 10 years ago.

In the future we will look to increase our efforts in contributing to society through various CSR projects. We see these projects as a great way to unite staff.

The latest project is called “Chef of Hope” where our staff sponsor students living in rural areas to attend cooking schools in Beijing. Initially the plan was to sponsor 20 students but a good staff reaction has seen the number go up to 50.

Our volunteers organise various workshops for local underprivileged families. The volunteer team hosts visits to our factory and learns to cook with the families in our staff kitchen.

We will continue to engage staff in charity and community-service events to help enhance their loyalty towards the company and contribute to society.

As told to Wong Yat-hei