2011 Optimas Award Winners: Sodexo Inc

Article excerpt

Sodexo Inc.

2011 WINNER: Innovation

FOOD-SERVICE GIANT SODEXO INC. faced a tricky talent challenge a few years ago. The growing company found itself competing with rivals over job candidates with specialized skills, while key employees were unsure how to advance within the organization. Further complicating matters: Managers were reluctant to hire internal candidates from outside of their own niches.

But Sodexo, which has 110,000 employees in the United States and recruits for more than 4,500 management positions annually, came up with a fresh staffing solution: The Gaithersburg, Maryland-based company improved retention by providing opportunities for development and advancement while fostering a cultural shift that encourages internal mobility.

"We're in a growth mode," says Sherie Valderrama, senior director of talent acquisition. "We need to have people ready who can jump in."

Through focus groups, Sodexo learned that some clients insisted on Sodexo managers hiring from within their market niche. Armed with this insight, Sodexo compiled data that showed no difference between the ratings of general managers promoted from within a market and those brought in from other ones. …