Fonterra, a New Zealand-based dairy co-op, has instituted a new way for employees to spend time outside their day jobs on internal company projects which would normally be outside their scope of work as defined by their job description. This match-making system is designed to enable employees with talent and skills they don’t normally use to get involved in projects that are exciting, but normally not open to them.
Fonterra’s “amp,” short for amplify, is an innovative web-based approach to working that the company hopes will change the face of employment. Using a gig-economy approach, employees will be empowered to work on internal projects outside their normal role, based on their individual skills or areas of interest.
“As well as supporting our peoples’ career development, amp will give Fonterra a competitive advantage by enabling us to harness the enormous breadth of skills across our workforce,” says Judith Swales, chief operating officer velocity & innovation. “It’s about amplifying the potential of our co-op through the talent of our people.”
“With amp, our people have the chance to upskill and work on something completely different to their day jobs across areas where they either have a special interest or a particular skill,” adds Swales.
Companies like Google and 3M have similar internal programs that run internationally and have shown to increase engagement, enhance careers and lead to new innovations. 3M’s program resulted in many top selling products, including the ubiquitous Post-it note.
Starting off as a pilot, amp covered Fonterra projects such as artificial intelligence, Blockchain, virtual bakery stores in Asia and sustainability initiatives. It has helped Fonterra people develop new career paths and has opened doors.
“It doesn’t matter where you work, how you work or what level you’re at—amp is about giving every employee the flexibility to expand their careers,” says Swales. “It might be a few hours, days or weeks spent on a project outside their current role, which helps to develop their skills and network.”
The initiative is part of Fonterra’s wider effort to build capabilities and prepare for the ever-evolving nature of work. Last year, the co-op won a Deloitte award for its other internal program Disrupt, which allows employees to pitch new business ideas to the CEO.