Mark Bugeja’s journey at Nectar, an importation and distribution company of food and beverages, showcases how a focus on human capital can enhance a company’s culture into a people and customer-oriented one. His transition from a background in shipping and logistics to a leadership role in HR demonstrates the importance of strong people skills and adaptability in the field whilst maintaining a humble approach.

“Evolving Nectar’s HR Department involved a comprehensive approach, which included various talent experience such as onboarding, talent development and employee retention efforts. Our objective was to create a supportive and employee-focused culture in a gradual process. Nectar is a family business, but it is 100 percent based on meritocracy,” Mark starts off.

This, he tells me, involved fine-tuning the department into what it is today, something the company’s HR team achieved through a long journey of training, policy-refining, and the introduction of new processes.

Earlier this year, Nectar scooped the Employees’ Voice Award in the category for businesses with 100-199 employees. This award, organised by Business Leaders Malta, aims to recognise organisations that value and prioritise employee feedback and engagement. Yet, Mark remains humble about the achievement.

“It was also thanks to our excellent employees, whom we call ambassadors of Nectar, that we managed to win this award. It’s the same when any of our employees excel, reach a new achievement or get promoted. We always tell them that they worked for it. Our part in the process is simply to identify those who can grow and help them build their abilities to grab the opportunity when it comes and it’s a huge satisfaction for us,” he tells me, reminiscing about those employees who even commenced as casual summer workers to full-time employees and, eventually to managerial positions.”

As HR professionals, Nectar emphasises the importance of empathy in management and addressing performance issues with understanding and communication. “You need to actively listen to what’s happening, because usually there’s a good reason. And, employees do appreciate when you listen and give them your time hence why empathy is important,” Mark says.

“At Nectar, we use data and various tools to gauge employee engagement, identify top performers, address weaker areas, and detect any trends or concerns within our organisation. The transparent use of data and open communication with employees foster a two-way relationship, allowing for constructive feedback and improvement. This approach has earned Nectar recognition and awards for valuing employee feedback and engagement.

“Our focus is based on growth and developing our people, says Mark, illustrating the HR Department’s dedication to foster a positive workplace culture. Together with our leaders, it is our responsibility to identity raw talent and help them build the skills to seize opportunities within the company.

“People are one of Malta’s few resources, so it’s critical for our company to attract the best talent, and, develop and retain them. HR is more than just a job; it’s a vocation because we are here to serve and warrant that the company objectives are being met through its human capital. If we don’t understand the business and our culture. Then we have already failed,” he explains, his passion for the topic evident.

Mentoring forms a great part of the HR process at Nectar, with Mark emphasising the importance of making sure that employees are helped to integrate within the company culture and processes.

“If we get a seasoned salesperson from a competitor there’s no guarantee that they’ll succeed with us, because the systems and the values are completely different. So, mentorship takes on extra importance. The HR approach aligns with the company values as Nectar’s heritage is immersed in excellence. Our slogan is actually ‘excellence in distribution’ and our responsibility is to train our people in this, too,” he explains.

This approach is explained in detail to all newcomers, so that they know what to expect. While performing is considered the norm, excelling is the duty and Mark believes that this is one of the reasons Nectar is so popular with clients

Nectar’s commitment to excellence in distribution is reflected in its approach to HR, which focuses on creating a workplace culture that supports growth, mental well-being, and peace of mind. “Our legacy is built on enriching the existing culture and empowering managers to implement policies that contribute to the company’s success. At Nectar, every employee plays a part in the company’s success story, creating a family-like atmosphere that extends to the entire team,” he concludes.

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