As Menulog’s HR Manager Natalie Brooke reflects on the past three years since joining the online food delivery platform, she isn’t hesitant to say, “I have loved every day.”
Owned by British parent company Just Eat, a FTSE 100 company listed on the London Stock Exchange that recently merged with Amsterdam-based Takeaway.com, Menulog is giving its three-million-plus active customers in Australia the choice to order everything from pizza to Messina from the comfort of their lounge room.
This year’s HR Executive of the Year Award winner at The CEO Magazine’s 2019 Executive of the Year Awards says she has witnessed “amazing growth within the business” since she joined – both within business operations and employee number growth.
“Over the past three years, we have managed to grow the business while keeping an amazing culture that is loved by all employees,” she says, noting its more than 130-strong workforce at the ecommerce company’s head office in Sydney.
“The main strategy we use to retain and motivate our employees is to create a fun, inspiring and inclusive culture that makes everyone enjoy coming to work every day.”
As an HR leader, Natalie works closely with the senior leadership team and managers across departments to drive staff performance and engagement, creating what she describes as a “happy and positive workplace”.
She goes so far to say that “100% of our success depends on having the right workplace culture”.
“Due to the culture we have created over the past three years, we have a dynamic, inspired and dedicated employee base that truly wants the business to succeed and will push hard and power through challenges to get us there,” Natalie echoes.
“I truly go out of my way to make sure every employee feels special and is recognised and rewarded for the work they do at Menulog. We are all part of one big family and are constantly getting comments from visitors about the friendly, family-like culture we have.”
It’s a challenging and competitive industry to be in, but Menulog is not falling short of success, with its Australasian operations seeing A$49 million in revenue from its delivery services from more than 14,000 affiliated restaurants across the region.
So what’s the key to keeping staff motivated to achieve what Natalie describes as “truly amazing business results” over the past 12 months?
“Our employees are aligned with the company goals and everyone has a true passion for the business and product,” she beams.
Whether she is conducting engagement surveys, organising social events, implementing reward and recognition programs, coaching managers or running staff training programs, Natalie is dedicated to employee progression.
She has been devoted to employee training, particularly launching monthly ‘lunch and learn’ sessions focused around staff development and running a management training program for those interested in progressing to leadership positions.
“We constantly look for ways to develop and promote our employees to ensure they are challenged and achieving their best,” she adds.
Her team has also developed and launched company-wide team-building activities to enhance relationships across the business, which she says was an important factor for employee growth.
In addition, Natalie says she created alignment with head office in London and other offices around the globe to share learnings “to enable us to bring awesome programs and initiatives to Menulog and to create an amazing place to work”.
“The Menulog business has an amazing family-style culture where we promote cross-department collaboration throughout the business.”
“At the beginning of each year I organise a full company conference where we communicate the strategies for the year and launch cross-department projects across the business with an array of employees to support the strategies.”
One of the internal challenges she faced last year was a low employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) for the company’s female employees compared to their male counterparts. As a result, Natalie created a group of representatives from each department with a goal to have parity in male and female eNPS.
“We started off by not hiding from the results and informing the employees we would actively seek to improve,” Natalie says. “We conducted thorough focus groups with all the females and identified and implemented numerous initiatives.”
By January 2019, its female eNPS had risen 825% – from 4 to 37 – and achieved equal parity with the male eNPS and a 94% survey participation rate.
She adds that, following the women’s focus groups mid-2018, the leadership team identified that some of the discontentedness from the employees arose from the lack of paid parental leave.
“Upon this realisation I undertook extensive research into parental leave schemes and wrote a 10-page proposal detailing an Australian situational analysis, benefits, costing, potential ROI and a recommendation,” Natalie explains.
With budget approved by the senior leadership team and Global CEO, she launched a 12-week paid scheme in February 2019. This accomplishment is a testament to Natalie’s leadership skills – a show of empathy, active listening, communication, passion, commitment and influencing.
“Every great leader has unique qualities that make them special,” Natalie reflects when asked what makes a good leader. “Empathy and a genuine care for their employees” is at the top of her list of qualities she looks for in an exceptional leader.
“They must have a charismatic passion for the business and its success, and the ability to bring employees along on the journey; the willingness to empower employees throughout the business, and a willingness to invest time into the company culture and employees.”
Furthermore, she says, a good leader must be “an exceptionally strong communicator in both an individual setting and in front of a larger audience; an honest individual that trusts and is trusted by the employees, and great decision maker”.
Natalie believes it is important to rally around great talent, not only within the company but across other businesses. “We should be sharing and celebrating the success stories within our Australian businesses and driving and inspiring others to achieve great things,” she concludes.