Engaging more closely with our employees

Why it's material

The days of employees simply collecting a pay check are over. In fact, research suggests that they're willing to earn less if doing so translates into more meaningful work.1 People are increasingly looking for meaning in their lives. Given the amount of time spent at work, it makes sense to look to the workplace as a source of meaning. People want to come to work, understand their job and know how their work contributes to overall purpose and success of the organisation. When they do, there are positive implications for productivity and profitability.

How this issue links to other aspects of our business

Our global priority SDGs

Our top ten risks

  • 1 Safety
  • 8 Employee relations

Our strategic fundamentals

  • Drive operational excellence
  • Enhance trust

The global forces shaping our Thrive25 strategy

  • Continued erosion of trust in business, coupled with increasing social activism
  • Changing consumer and employee profiles
  • Globalisation and high levels of connectivity



2 https://www.achievers.com/resources/white-papers/2020-engagement-retention-report/

According to a recent survey2, 90% of workers said that they are more likely to stay at a company that takes and acts on feedback.

Our approach

While engaging effectively with our employees has always been a priority, its importance has been highlighted by Covid-19. The way our people work has been redefined. So too, have our stakeholders' needs and expectations. The pandemic might be temporary, but the changes we are seeing now are not likely to be: Now more than ever, hearing what our employees have to say and taking appropriate action is critical as together, we navigate the realities of the 'new normal' in our quest to build a thriving world.

Key developments in 2020

We hold Employee Engagement Surveys every two years, with the previous one taking place in 2019. This survey indicated that employee engagement was high, with 42% of employees fully engaged, 39% unsupported or detached and 19% fully disengaged. The key themes identified for action were talent and recognition; teamwork and communication; development and empowerment and leadership and direction. We are on track to close out all the actions that are monitored quarterly. The 2021 survey, due to begin in March 2021, will be undertaken by a new survey provider that will provide faster and more granular reporting, as well as prioritisation of focus areas and mobile (cellphone and tablet) solutions.

As we look to the future, we recognise that society in general and our people, in particular, expect us to play a role beyond making and selling. Teams from all regions and product segments spent a year building the 2020-2025 Thrive25 strategy that focuses strongly on the power of purpose: Sappi exists to build a thriving world by unlocking the power of renewable resources to benefit people, communities and the planet. We embarked on an extensive roll out to familiarise our people with our purpose, business strategy and refreshed brand. We communicated through newsletters, posters, presentations and detailed engagement with staff by management and leadership.