Campbell’s HR Strategies to Improve the Employee Experience
Saad Qureshi, Human Resources Manager at Campbell Soup Company, shares the strategies Campbell uses to improve culture and enhance employee engagement.
HR teams seek to empower employees with the tools and resources they need to succeed at their jobs while ensuring their safety and well-being.
Saad Qureshi, Human Resources Manager at Campbell Soup Company, believes that a one-size-fits-all approach to human resources is ineffective. Instead, HR professionals should involve employees in the conversation to learn what works and what doesn’t.
In a recent episode of The Employee Safety Podcast, Saad shared Campbell’s tactics to improve culture and enhance employee engagement.
Q&A With Saad Qureshi, Human Resources Manager at Campbell Soup Company
You’ve experienced immense changes in your two years at Campbell’s, from the COVID-19 pandemic to corporate acquisitions such as Pepperidge Farm. What has that been like for you?
I joined Campbell’s when the pandemic started and only experienced one week without a mask mandate. My co-workers and I joke that I’m still learning people’s faces two years after working with them. The biggest challenge and our biggest priority have been keeping our employees safe through so many changes. I’m proud to say that the steps we’ve taken as an organization have cemented why I chose to join this company. Campbell’s has done a great job keeping our employees, customers, and contractors safe. With all the changes during the pandemic, we communicated everything upfront but were also honest with our employees when we didn’t have the answers. Employees appreciate honest answers, even if your answer is, “I don’t have the answers.” Many times, it’s our employees that teach us new processes. They are the ones working day in and day out on the production floor. We need to learn from them and use their knowledge of what works best versus deciding on our own. Having that partnership across all levels of the organization has allowed us to remain open, stay profitable, and merge cultures.
What is your primary passion or focus when it comes to your role?
My passion is people. I work where I work because of the people. There are a lot of opportunities out there. Still, something about helping employees, making sure that we’re opening doors, and creating career opportunities for them makes me proud.
With HR leaders taking on new responsibilities and their roles evolving with the current circumstances, how does that impact the employees and their experiences in the workplace?
It’s important to have the mentality that your people are humans, not robots. Everybody is different. We cannot use a one-size-fits-all approach to HR. There are policies in place, but we also need to prioritize providing the tools that can empower employees. I want to be so good at my job that you don’t need HR because everybody’s empowered with all the tools and procedures to do their best work.
“"Many times, it's our employees that teach us new processes. They are the ones working day in and day out on the production floor."”Saad Qureshi Human Resource Manager
How do you and your team accomplish that? What are some ways that Campbell’s improves employee engagement?
We do different things for our employees on the production floor, including opportunities to give back to the community, pizza parties, and charitable fundraisers where we match employee donations for a charitable cause of their choice. We also keep our employees motivated with upfront communication, events, and benefits that help them and their families attain a healthy work-life balance that everybody deserves. Giving back to the community, in particular, says so much about an organization. It strengthens employee engagement and helps with retention, but it also builds a partnership with the community. It keeps the business going and promotes growth.
As you think about employee safety as part of your culture, do you think that helps retain employees and motivates them when they know the company has their back?
Especially in manufacturing, safety is a huge priority. Safety is something we live and breathe. We can put out as much product as possible, but if we’re not doing it safely and employees are getting hurt, what’s the point? Putting the right health safety procedures in place shows our employees that we have their best interest in mind and motivates them to work harder. We want to succeed together. One way we can accomplish that as an organization is by prioritizing safety.
Campbell’s is a huge organization by most standards. Do you work with the HR leaders at the other job sites to compare notes or collaborate?
One of the things that attracted me to Campbell’s was the HR culture in the organization as a whole. Not only do we have a weekly touch base with the HR team, but we also collaborate with HR leaders at other sites to share ideas and best practices because what is working for them could be helpful at my site and vice versa.
Do you have a memorable moment or day on the job that you could share with our listeners that impacted your approach to human resources?
We had an employee that unfortunately lost their battle to COVID-19. That put my job and what we do into perspective. It’s not just a company losing an employee—that’s a wife losing her husband and a daughter losing her father. Making that call to give my condolences to the family was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life, but it was nothing compared to what they were going through. My job was to make sure I could provide as much support as possible, whether it was information on benefits, next steps, or employee assistance programs to ensure they were taken care of. That day, I realized what I do has a bigger purpose, and it’s not just about coming to work every day. Our employees have their own stories that we need to listen to and support. That’s why I enjoy what I do at Campbell’s.
You and your team have to deal with all these potentially negative incidents. What does that mean for you from a mental health perspective?
As HR professionals, we’re tasked with helping employees, but sometimes we need help too. Mental health is so important for HR professionals because we hear all sorts of stories and are tasked with sorting out all kinds of issues. As an HR professional, it’s important to take mental breaks and connect with folks personally. It keeps me motivated throughout the day.
What should be top of mind for any HR professional or people officer right now?
Understand the people and the culture of the company and adapt to it. Often, HR professionals are trying to change the culture, and while sometimes that is needed, meeting employees where they are is essential. You can support them in simple ways like providing information in different languages, being conscious of food restrictions, and other small inclusion strategies. People appreciate the small things. We facilitate this with two-way communication, open workshops, meetings with employees, and an understanding of the culture. I have a great group of supervisors and managers who provide insightful information, but I learn a lot from talking to employees. I like to go on the plant floor without a purpose. Sometimes it’s just to see what’s going on and talk to employees about their day. It always catches people off guard because, unfortunately, people assume something is wrong when HR is on the floor. But it’s not always about that. I’m here to just talk about their day and build a supportive relationship.
Portions of the article have been edited for clarity and brevity.