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Training and development is a key differentiator when potential recruits decide on an employer, it is central to client expectations, and a key focus area for WPP companies.

We aspire to high standards of employment progression and invest in the development of our teams. Our companies offer development opportunities that enable their people to gain new skills, progress their careers and reach their full potential. These include performance assessment, coaching and mentoring, succession planning and training. Our goal is for our people at all levels to receive regular performance appraisals. In 2009, we invested £39.9 million in training and wellbeing compared with £42.6 million in 2008.

Most training is carried out informally on-the-job. Some formal training and professional development opportunities are also provided at both the parent and operating company levels, which together reach several thousand employees in the Group. These cover all aspects of company business and creative skills.

Executive education helps our senior talent develop creative, client and personal leadership skills. Our flagship program is Maestro: Orchestrating Client Value – a five-day course aimed at strengthening the ability of our most senior client leaders to be valued and trusted advisors to their clients, colleagues and teams; and to orchestrate the many talents our organisation possesses so that our clients are best served. Since the program’s inception in 2003, it has been held in 17 countries, has reached more than 1,600 participants and involved 77 different WPP operating companies.

WPP has its own ‘Mini MBA’ program, designed to build functional knowledge and abilities. It combines online tutorials and simulations with instructor-led classroom training. Business disciplines covered are: creating client value, marketing, strategy, people and organisational development, commercial acumen and working across cultures.

Our Digital Acceleration training curriculum equips our companies and clients with the knowledge and skills to develop and implement digital communications strategies. Created by experts across WPP, it involves interactive tasks and informs participants about the latest trends in the digital landscape.

In 2009, WPP partnered with online marketing company Omniture to deliver training sessions on analytics tools and services. Five hundred people in cities around the world took part in the training.

We have launched ‘X-Factor’, a senior management mentoring and development program for women executives led by Charlotte Beers, formerly global CEO of Ogilvy & Mather and chairman of JWT.

Below is a small selection of the training programs delivered by our operating companies in 2009:

  • The Grey Masters is a six-week program for high-potential employees at Grey, designed to encourage strategic thinking, brand engagement, creative excellence and new business development. Participants are given a real business problem to solve and an opportunity to present their ideas to senior leaders and agency management.
  • The Cohn & Wolfe University offers US employees training modules covering must-know basics and cutting-edge approaches.
  • The MEC Rising Talent program identifies future leaders at account manager level and provides them with a 12-month accelerated development program, including the opportunity to respond to a strategic brief.
  • JWT London runs 8- to 10-week training programs for graduate trainees, planners and account directors, to help them develop the skills for excellent client service.
Staff training and welfare graph
Nicole Green



Achieving balance

Each year, employees tell us through our survey how much they value being able to balance work and home commitments. In recruitment, work-life-balance is a key factor for applicants and in some cases they ask about it even before they mention remuneration.

As a market research company, we recognise the importance of listening to people. We also know that our employees are more productive, more satisfied and more committed to TNS when they have a good work-life-balance.

Through our ‘Achieving the Balance’ program, employees can claim back extra hours worked as time in lieu, work flexible hours and take paid parental leave, festival leave and birthday leave. We encourage managers to promote the time in lieu policy as it is really important in our industry, which is project based. Like all our policies, parental leave is available for both men and women.

The program has helped us to hold on to key talent. The majority of women who have taken maternity leave have come back, because we offer them flexible working conditions when they return.

We see our work-life-balance policies as a key differentiator for TNS in the job market, both for male and female recruits. They also contributed to us achieving accreditation from the Equal Opportunities for Women Association, which helps us to stand out in pitches – particularly for government clients.

Nicole Green
Executive director of People and Culture, TNS Australia and New Zealand

Performance management at JWT Asia Pacific

Shine is JWT Asia Pacific’s online employee performance measurement tool. It provides a set of standard performance metrics that can be used across JWT’s Asia Pacific markets and helps the company to identify and motivate its high-potential employees by evaluating current performance, sharing feedback, and setting development plans.

Shine includes annual performance evaluations, for employees and their managers to exchange feedback and agree goals for the next 12 months. Performance assessments take into account employees’ behavioural, functional and leadership competencies, including communication skills, teamwork, innovativeness and creativity, and client engagement.

A confirmation evaluation process is used to assess the performance of new recruits and to determine whether they should be offered permanent positions.

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