Kerry Foods

Boosting an organization’s performance through increased engagement

Published on 20-Nov-2013

Kerry Foods


Deployment country:

Smarter Workforce, Social Business for Human Resources, Social Business


Kerry Group is a world leader in food ingredients and flavors serving the food and beverage industry, and a leading supplier of added value brands and customer branded foods to the Irish and UK markets. The organization supplies customers in 144 countries worldwide and has established manufacturing facilities in 23 different countries and international sales offices in 20 other countries across the globe. Website:

Business need:
Understand the dynamics of its workforce across various manufacturing locations in the UK and Ireland in difficult economic times.

Leverage IBM Kenexa Survey Enterprise to measure employee feedback and compare that to the Performance Excellence Index, helping the organization drive business performance.

Provided leaders insight into the pulse of its workforce on issues like performance, engagement, values and job satisfaction. Identified areas for improvement and leveraged action planning strategies. Helped managers understand opportunities for improving overall employee engagement in their own teams.

Case Study

Kerry Group is a world leader in food ingredients and flavors serving the food and beverage industry, and a leading supplier of added value brands and customer branded foods to the Irish and UK markets. The organization supplies customers in 144 countries worldwide and has established manufacturing facilities in 23 different countries and international sales offices in 20 other countries across the globe. Website:

The food and beverage industry was hit hard by the recession of 2009, and challenging economic conditions continued to impact the sector in the years following, as shoppers remained budget conscious.

Yet chilled foods company, Kerry Foods, a division of Kerry Group, continued to achieve solid growth, achieving €1.768 million1 in sales in 2010. The organization’s growth was in large part due to the organization’s successful repositioning of its leading brands to match value conscious consumers. Kerry Foods also embarked on a lean efficiency program across each of its production sites, bringing innovation and cost savings to the firm’s processes. Kerry Foods markets its own brands across a wide range of categories and provides private-label products to supermarkets.

The challenge: understanding the workforce
In the wake of these activities, Kerry Foods was determined to undertake the first of what is planned to be an annual survey of its entire base of more than 9,000 employees, located at various manufacturing locations across the UK and Ireland. Understanding the dynamics of its workforce would be vital to continuing the organization’s success amid a challenging economy.

“There was an appetite across management to survey employees. We felt it was appropriate to get a clear understanding of how people were feeling,” said Fliss Cox, Director of Internal Communications for Kerry Foods. “We’ve done surveys in specific areas, but a company-wide survey is a major undertaking. We wanted to conduct a survey and looked to find the right provider with the right model who could help us get started quickly.”

Managers solicited proposals from vendors and ultimately selected Kenexa, an IBM Company, to facilitate its company-wide employee survey. Among the factors influencing Kerry Foods’ decision were Kenexa’s experience in deploying surveys globally, and its models for measuring high performance metrics in its survey systems. Kenexa’s survey process makes distinctions between performance and engagement, and Kerry Foods was able to develop actionable insight on both.

The solution: performance excellence index
Kenexa customized its Performance Excellence Index for the Kerry Foods survey, accounting for the vision and values that Kerry Foods has articulated. The index measured items such as training, collaboration, standards, responsiveness and commitment to product quality.

“Acquiring a benchmark in this process was very important to us,” Cox said. “We have no company-wide history in this regard, and we needed a comparator to help us assess the strength of feeling among our employees.”

By hiring Kenexa, managers were able to turn over the complexities of collecting, segmenting and reporting the sheer volume of data that comes back through a survey. Kenexa’s ability to quickly deliver not just the survey, but the underlying technology and supporting database, was another influential factor for Kerry Foods.

“We would have struggled to develop the systems to support a survey ourselves,” Cox said. “Given those constraints, with Kenexa we were out sooner with our survey to the entire organization.”

The results: establishing baselines for future engagement
Kerry Foods’ survey spanned performance, engagement and several other topics ranging from company vision and values, to manager effectiveness, performance, quality and job satisfaction. Kenexa is able to benchmark results based on norms both in the manufacturing sector and in the countries that Kerry Foods operates. Leaders were pleased that its workforce believed the company had a bright future, and expected positive change would come from the survey. Kerry Foods is also taking action on other areas identified in results, including bolstering its employee communication efforts.

“Helping managers across the company understand the opportunities they have to gain relevant insight, related to their own teams and projects, is vital and goes a long way toward generating higher participation during the survey and local action afterwards,” Cox said. She also emphasized the importance of taking action following the survey to help ensure the company can impact its engagement and performance through the undertaking.

“Do not undertake a survey unless you are prepared to take action based on the results,” Cox said. “The efforts required to train up survey champions, hire a survey provider and engage the workforce in this endeavor are all significant costs. You have to communicate results back to the workforce and take demonstrative and specific action based on what you’ve learned.”

About Kenexa, an IBM Company
To us, business has always been personal – and it has always been about helping to make the workforce smarter, which is why we are proud to be a platform for a Smarter Workforce. We look at it from two angles – empowering people and transforming business. Our tools help enable businesses to attract and keep the best people, develop their skills, cultivate new leaders and capitalize on their collective intelligence by applying human insights, social tools and workforce analytics to transform the way they work. We provide deep insight and experience in employee engagement, talent management and leadership develop­ment mixed with industry-leading technology and social platforms, giving us the unique ability to build a Smarter Workforce.

For more information
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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

IBM Kenexa Survey Enterprise

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100S omers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America November 2013 IBM, the IBM logo and are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or TM), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. Other product, company or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. A current list of IBM trademarks is available at “Copyright and trademark information” at: The content in this document (including currency OR pricing references which exclude applicable taxes) is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data discussed herein is presented as derived under specific operating conditions. Actual results may vary. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NONINFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. 1 $2.2 million based on a June 1, 2010 conversion.