There is a real sense of family ties at the Danish-owned shipping company that lets its employees loose to see the world. Maersk has offices on every continent and about 50 ocean-going vessels carrying cargo, oil and gas. In 1999, it bought Sealand, making its fleet of ships one of the largest in the world, vying with firms such as Taiwan’s Evergreen Group. It is the largest employer of British seafarers.
The family-controlled parent group, A P Møller, was founded in Copenhagen in 1904 and maintains a strong culture of kinship, led by its chairman, Maersk Møller. He has a hands-on role and believes that “no detail is too small, no effort too great” for business or for staff. This ethos has travelled to the British subsidiary, which was set up in 1951.
Shipping companies are traditionally formal, conservative and not renowned for good staff benefits, but Maersk makes an effort. Training and travel are two key areas. A fast-track global graduate scheme enables people to progress into management by their mid-twenties and the firm offers a two-year internal training scheme developed over 30 years. There are plentiful opportunities in the 325 group offices, with sister companies in more than 100 countries.
Staff are encouraged to develop, with subsidies of up to £1,200 for courses not connected to work and a wide range of programmes offered by the firm.
Most offices, including the head office at Canary Wharf, east London, have a staff canteen offering free hot and cold lunches, while every Christmas, the firm gives staff a hamper of wine, biscuits and chocolates together with £100 in gift vouchers. The firm leases cottages for 50 weeks of the year in Scotland, Yorkshire and Devon and everyone with more than a year’s service can apply for a free week.
There is a sense of familiarity with senior management; there are quarterly meetings with the managing director at head office, and divisional roadshows where directors present results to all employees.
“This is a family-focused company, with a philosophy for hard work and success, evident in offices all over the world,” one employee said.
Maersk does less well on pay: only half of the staff felt fairly rewarded, and only 19% felt they got a fair share of profits, the second lowest score in our top 100 for this question.
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