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Engaging the Hearts of Employees in a Competitive Labour Market

By Bryden Toh, Human Resource Vice President (Food Atrium Division), BreadTalk Group [SGX: CTN]

In today’s competitive labor market, there are multitudes of hurdles in engaging frontline staff, especially for companies whose presence span across continents. At Food Republic (FR), whereby a large proportion of staff operate away from the headquarters, we place a strong emphasis on allowing employees to feel that they belong to a part of a larger, albeit long-distance, family.

Building upon the “3-Hearts Value” of Sincerity, Confidence and Patience, we have created the slogan “It all starts from the heart”. To bring the sense of belonging up a notch, we went further to compose a cheerful and light-hearted theme song to encourage employees to immerse in the spirit of togetherness and shared values as an FR citizen. Meanwhile, we have also emphasized in embracing differences in a fair, inclusive and diverse hiring culture. In Singapore FR, 18 percent of employees are above retirement age.

"Our key focus is on inspiring the individual, leading with heart, giving back to society through our Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and celebrating life together"

To encourage communication, we have established various communication channels to allow for open and transparent feedback globally. Some of these platforms include:

• The Corporate WeChat mobile platform, which was launched globally in 2018, allowed information to be instantaneously communicated to FR employees. The platform also allows casual communications as well as the use of interactive games for employee engagement. The use of technology helps us reach out to digital natives that are entering the workforce.

• The “FR-equency” online feedback platform where employees can feel at ease to post questions anonymously and where bottom-up feedback is encouraged. Subsequently, management will address their feedback on the platform and employees can be assured that their concerns are heard.

• Structured communication plans which have been developed to ensure two-way communication with employees. These are done through a combination of weekly focus groups, monthly “Skip Level” meetings, Meet-the-GM sessions, CEO Dialogues and annual Food Atrium Forums.

Taking control of their own learning experiences allows employees to personalize their own professional development and learn more effectively and efficiently. We practise the “FR E2C” - Empower and Enable with a sense of purpose where every Committed employee can engineer his or her career into a success story through a structured learning roadmap, the regional exchange programme and the F&B fast track development programme.

• A structured learning roadmap through Guided Essential Training aims to immerse the new hire with detailed job expectations and skills that the new hire needs to acquire during their probation period. Experienced Managers were shortlisted and equipped to be OJT Trainer and assessor of the new hires.

• Operation Associate (OA) Programme which is a graduate program where fresh graduates to be groomed into operation management positions. In addition, they are given opportunities to participate in the Regional Exchange Programme, where they will be assigned to manage real business cases. Empowered with resources, they would need to analyse, propose and put their proposals into action.

• The F&B Fast Track Programme is a customised programme which empowers frontline employees to have opportunities to choose their paths between F&B or R&D within a structured Fast Track Career Progression Plan. They will then be equipped with the required training in their chosen path.

Our key focus is on inspiring the individual, leading with heart, giving back to the society through our Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and celebrating life together. Across the globe, we take the opportunity to engage our employees in celebrating events such as the Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, Parents’ Day, International Woman’s Day and Christmas. Since 2018, 95 activities have been organized.

Ultimately, we believe that the X-Factor of every successful engagement is to engage our employees with heart because engagement with heart goes a thousand miles.

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