Avis believes that the success of its business depends on each and every employee
“At Avis we truly believe that Brand Ambassadors are our future and we need to offer them effective ways to develop their careers through education and training. We believe our success is largely determined by all our people – from the tea lady to the CEO. This is why every person at Avis, irrespective of whether they are in sales or not, participates in the company’s Brand Ambassador programme. They are, after all, human billboards for the company,” says Doreen Lupton, Human Resources Executive at Avis Rent a Car.
Avis has developed a Brand Ambassador programme that takes the form of practical exercises and roleplaying while imparting the company’s promise of “We Try Harder” and its values of honesty, empathy and humanity as well as its strong culture.
The programme was introduced in 2002 as a way of engendering a culture of ’choose to’ people within Avis, helping employees understand how their personal behaviour play a crucial role in company’s performance and the perceptions of its stakeholders.
“Between October 2012 and September 2013, seven Brand Ambassador sessions have been held with over 247 employees attending. Avis has invested over R1.2 million in the Brand Ambassador programme, a sign of its commitment to growing its people,” comments Lupton.
Avis takes the skills development of its people extremely seriously with its Learning and Development (L&D) department at the forefront of this commitment. There are various learning and development programmes in place to grow personal, business, technical, functional, management and leadership competence and skill.
Avis holds regular recruitment drives dedicated to empowering formerly disadvantaged people, women and the disabled in the workplace. This year 16 disabled candidates were screened for placement, of which 25% were placed in the business. They have already attended the Brand Ambassador programme for immersion into the Avis culture and Avis way of doing things.
“Avis is an organisation that actively supports the disabled,” says Lupton. “We care about the welfare of disabled people and want to give them equal opportunities in the workplace. For some of the candidates interviewed, this was their first time ever that, they were given comprehensive development feedback. They were truly grateful for this opportunity.”
“The recruitment drive for people with a disability has been successful and is an initiative that Avis will continue to support. We want to congratulate our new team members and wish them a warm welcome,” says Lupton.
To further assist the development of our Brand Ambassadors, Avis has implemented various internal tools such as Zwakala, which is the Avis intranet site. The learning and development site has recently been revamped to be more interactive and welcoming, allowing the employees to get more involved in their own growth and development. It provides vital and valuable information on training programmes offered, some of which are facilitator-led and others are launched off an e-learning platform.
The Brand Ambassadors are also offered an opportunity to complete certain accredited programmes, which are required in the Avis business, at the same time addressing the scarcity of skills in South Africa. On completion of the learnership, the learners achieve a formal qualification as aligned to SAQA requirements. A graduation ceremony takes place where the competent learners are recognised for their achievement. The nomination process for these learnership programmes are aligned to our talent management and succession strategies, the aim being to accelerate and fast track the development of high potential employees.
Avis offers specific training to various divisions in the business to ensure that Brand Ambassadors are equipped with the right skills to deliver on the Avis brand promise of trying harder. The training includes:
Soft skills training
Business writing skills
On the job training
The 2012/3 Management Development Programme saw eight of the nine candidates graduate. This programme is designed to accelerate the development of high potential individual into the operations environment. The programme design focuses on growing business, technical and leadership competence and has proven its success with five of the eight candidates having already been promoted into management positions.
Avis is very excited and is currently developing a new leadership training intervention to be implemented in 2014, together with a Supervisory Development Programme that will enhance the management training programmes offered to Avis employees.
“At Avis we continually strive to show our ‘We Trying Harder’ spirit and we believe that by investing in our people we not only equip them with the fundamental values of Avis but we also empower them,” concludes Lupton.