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Case study: How foodpanda is overcoming the matter of people working "systematically long hours"

In the August edition of Human Resources (Singapore), we explored the concept of work-life harmony in a special feature involving a range of stakeholders from foodpanda and Go-Ahead Singapore for their take on what integrating work and life really means. 

In this case study, Priya Sunil focuses on the views of the employer, a line manager, and a Millennial, from foodpanda.

At foodpanda, the on-demand international food delivery service, Managing Director, Singapore Luc Andreani, represents the employer's demographic for this case study.

He believes that in the company's fast-paced tech/e-commerce environment, it is crucial to have the right measures to ensure employees achieve a balance between their work and personal lives. If not, they are at risk of experiencing burnout and the company could potentially lose its best employees.

In line with that, the company has implemented a series of initiatives. It offers benefits such as flexible working hours and two days of work-from-home per month. He shares: "What we are proud of is that these benefits do not just apply to full-timers, but are also available to part-timers and interns.

"Beyond that, we also organise interdepartmental team bonding activities to encourage employees who usually wouldn’t work together to get to know each other."

Further, employees tenured for more than a year are entitled to courses under its 'Panda Learns' programme, which are paid for by the company.

Sri Hadisti, HR Manager at foodpanda Singapore, who represents the line manager's demographic, notes the importance of such initiatives, as they prioritise work-life balance as one of the key ways to improve organisational productivity, competitive advantage, morale and even efficiency.

She adds:

With the right strategies in place, employees will be able to enjoy an enhanced sense of job satisfaction and increased motivation at work.
"This, in turn, will translate into creating a workplace environment that your employees enjoy coming into, and strengthening their loyalty and commitment to the organisation."

However, maintaining work-life harmony hasn't always been easy for staff. Take Darryl Chua, Regional Operations Manager, foodpanda APAC, for example, who represents the Millennial's demographic. In the past, he faced challenges managing the expectations of different stakeholders, which in turn, took a toll on his mood and ultimately affected his work performance.

"It took me a while before I realised that there was nothing wrong in asking for help or advice when managing my workload or when I feel like my personal needs are also being affected, as it will ultimately affect my work as well. This a vicious cycle that is not easy to break out off, but acknowledging it and getting the right advice is key," he says.

In such cases, he reinforces the importance of being more involved in the programmes, and leading by example. He explains: "Even when a company might have a good programme in place, it will fall through because the managers are not adopting it or playing an active role in it, even though they are encouraging the employees to do so.

"It doesn’t send across the right message that it’s OK for more junior staff to take part in these initiatives."

Talking about the priorities ahead, Andreani says the company is looking to overcome the matter of people working "systematically long hours". In order to address this, the team has identified two root causes – employee inefficiency and organisational inefficiency, with the former being an immediate priority.

[ALSO READ: Case study: How Go-Ahead Singapore moves forward with flexibility for employees]

For tackling employee inefficiency, foodpanda is planning to put in place time-management training for all employees, not just for individuals that might be facing this issue.

"You'll never know when you might feel overwhelmed at work and we want to make sure that our team has the resources to make them feel empowered at what they are doing," he explains.

The company has also done away with employees having to clock-in or out, removing unnecessary stress on employees.

As for organisational inefficiency, he foresees a slightly longer period for changes to take effect, but the team is nonetheless committed to making them. For a start, the leadership team has made it a point to expand the tech team in anticipation of the support needed for the six to 12 months ahead – a strategy that it is looking to apply to all teams.

Last, he shares that the company is also inculcating an office culture that values output more than input, or hours, so as to focus on results rather than the amount of time taken to achieve that desired result.

Through these conversations, it is apparent that work-life harmony can be achieved in many ways, but not through a one-size-fits-all policy. In fact, these policies should be tailored to both the organisation’s and overall employees' needs.

Flexibility is also favoured across the board, and ultimately, it cannot be stressed further that at the end of the day, with each implementation, it all boils down to output over input – the quality of work produced, over the number of hours clocked in.

Both foodpanda and Go-Ahead Singapore are adopters of the Tripartite Standards (TS). TS consists of a series of good employment practices that are important for all employers to implement and allows organisations to differentiate themselves as progressive employers.

Visit tafep.sg to find out more on the Tripartite Standards.

This case study first appeared in the August issue of Human Resources magazine (Singapore). Read the full feature in the magazine, or online!


Photos / provided (From L-R: Luc Andreani, Managing Director, foodpanda Singapore; Sri Hadisti, HR Manager, foodpanda Singapore; Darryl Chua, Regional Operations Manager, foodpanda APAC.)

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