Talent & Tech Asia Summit 2024
'Tasty Thursday', a 24/7 EAP, and more: foodpanda's approach to delivering the employee experience

'Tasty Thursday', a 24/7 EAP, and more: foodpanda's approach to delivering the employee experience

"We see culture as an enabler to stay ahead of the curve and drive progress, and this means that it needs to be visible and ingrained in everything we do," Ingo Laubender, Chief People Officer, foodpanda tells Sarah Gideon.

Failing to attract or retain top talent has risen to become the fourth biggest risk faced by companies, and undoubtedly so, many organisations are fearful to maintain their overall business performance. 

In lieu of this, Sarah Gideon sits with Ingo Laubender, Chief People Officer, foodpanda, to get his views on how he and his team are working to overcome this risk.

When asked for his thoughts on the finding, Laubender shares that he is "not surprised", citing it as a "risk that organisations should not take lightly." 

He shares: "Having skilled employees is key for business success, which is why at foodpanda we place a heavy emphasis on attracting and retaining top talent - which to us are people who challenge the status quo, are hungry to innovate, and drive positive change." 

As a tech company, foodpanda looks for a large variety of skill sets: from engineering and product development, to data, automation and AI, all the way to commercial and digital marketing skills to fuel the growth of their business.

"The competition remains fierce, with many companies fighting to hire top-tier candidates from the same talent pool."

In order to attract and retain top talent, Laubender believes that companies like foodpanda must first understand the talent landscape.

"What kinds of talent do we need, and is there enough supply of talent that we can tap into - internally and externally, if there are any gaps, and how can we close them?" Laubender elaborates. 

In light of that, to differentiate itself from other companies, the leader acknowledges the need to create a compelling employee value proposition to attract the right type of talent, which entails keeping a close watch on industry trends and movements of companies in similar industries.

"As a fast-moving company that launches new features and innovations frequently to differentiate our platform, it is extremely key that we attract and retain talent so we can continue to be quick to adapt to changing market shifts.

"One way to do so is to offer a comprehensive package that not just includes competitive pay, but also qualitative factors such as strong workplace engagement, and clear growth and development paths," Laubender tells us.

Keeping this in mind, let us hear what the leader has to share about: 

  1. How foodpanda assesses and adapts their talent acquisition strategies to remain competitive in an ever-evolving labour market. 
  2. Some success stories (and also challenges) that foodpanda has encountered to enhane their employee engagement & reduce turnover.
  3. How foodpanda is preparing for the emerging trends in talent acquisition & retention that may potentially impact HR strategies in the next couple of years. 

Q In your opinion, what are the primary reasons organisations fail to attract high-calibre talent, and how can these challenges be mitigated?

More often than not, companies are not sharing enough information that helps candidates research their next employer of choice. Today, talents are looking for information beyond the job scope — they are also keen to know more about the industry and the workplace culture. Companies can strengthen their employer branding by making this information easily accessible through various channels, including social media where most applicants are now also conducting their research.

To attract top talent, companies should have a clear understanding of what the market rate is and offer compensation packages that are pegged to that. This goes beyond remuneration packages, but also includes other benefits and perks. Keeping a tight pulse on the market to derive insights would be crucial to inform the pay philosophy, while gathering and analysing employee sentiments would help in assessing what employees value in terms of perks. We’re proud that in this aspect, we do offer benefits that go beyond statutory requirements - such as inclusive leave benefits spanning from fertility leave to fostering leave.

Being able to show candidates what their career development in the organisation could look like is also key in attracting talent. Beyond the now, it could be worthwhile for companies to outline what career advancement would look like for the candidate and show through examples how this would be realised. For instance, at foodpanda, we arrange regular 1-1s with managers and organise leadership programmes for high-performing employees so that we can accelerate their growth. Managers are also equipped with skills to encourage a growth mindset within their teams through coaching and providing effective feedback.

Q  How do you assess and adapt your talent acquisition strategies to stay competitive in a rapidly changing job market, especially when faced with difficulties in attracting top talent?

Firstly, it’s important to accurately identify existing talent gaps in the business, and this is an exercise that needs to be conducted in close collaboration alongside the planning of business priorities. Our talent acquisition strategies will need to match what we need in order to achieve our goals as a business.

Then comes matching the demand with available talent supply. This comes from understanding market trends and being updated on the changing expectations of applicants - for example, younger employees increasingly value benefits such as flexible working arrangements, and mental health support. Which is why at foodpanda, we offer a free 24/7 employee assistance programme that offers counselling for emotional and psychological support - not just for employees but also their immediate family members.

Beyond the supply and demand strategy, we also gather feedback from both the candidates and hiring managers to see if there are qualitative aspects of the recruitment process that can be improved. This can be conducted through available applications, such as applicant tracking software that help automate tasks like resume screening, application tracking, and communication with candidates. We also utilise tools to understand what employees look for in an employer, to ensure that our policies and culture appeal not only to current employees, but also to job seekers.

Can you share examples of successful initiatives or programmes you have implemented to enhance employee engagement and reduce turnover?

Before rolling out any initiatives to enhance engagement, we first need to understand the causes of turnover, and we do so by leveraging data gathered using tech tools. Together with the management team, we then review these data regularly and formulate action plans to stem attrition and increase engagement.

I don’t think that turnover reduction can be attributed to a single programme, but rather, it stems from an understanding that employees’ feedback is considered and used to guide people-related initiatives. For instance, we regularly conduct employee surveys to assess and gather feedback on employees’ experiences. These data informed us that employees are looking for more beyond a competitive salary package. They also value benefits and perks, which was why we bolstered our leave package which now includes not just maternity and paternity leave, but also fertility leave as well as fostering leave - which we believe are leave types that are rarely offered.

We’ve also enhanced our hospitalisation and outpatient medical coverage to be inclusive, which covers life partners (regardless of gender) so long as they are in an exclusive and committed relationship. All employees also receive a Tasty Thursday weekly allowance in the form of foodpanda credits that they can use on the platform.

Q When faced with a candidate shortage for critical roles, how do you approach the situation, and what innovative methods do you employ to attract the right talent?

We collaborate closely with hiring managers to identify critical skills required for the role, and tailor our search strategies accordingly - which could also mean looking for transferable skills or proximity skills that candidates in “unlikely” industries might possess. We believe that the ability for a candidate to thrive in their role does not depend solely on the fit of their prior experience, but rather, on their ability to learn and unlearn, and their willingness to improve in where they lack. I firmly believe that individuals who are eager to put in the effort to practise will trump those who have a longer experience in a particular field.

Q How do you communicate your EVP to potential hires, and how does it align with your industry’s expectations of top-tier talent?

We’ve kept our EVP clear and simple; with four supporting pillars that are intended to cultivate an inclusive and caring culture where employees empower one another to drive growth and innovation. We see culture as an enabler to stay ahead of the curve and drive progress, and this means that it needs to be visible and ingrained in everything we do.

Potential hires will be able to identify our EVP through the content that we post on social media and on our ‘careers page’ - initial touchpoints that candidates will engage with as they consider applying. Our EVP comes through in engaging content types that we publish on these channels, including real anecdotes from employees on their favourite aspects of the work experience, and posts that feature employees in various roles and their day-to-day.

Through these posts, candidates are also to see for themselves elements of the workplace culture and values that the company espouses. Our EVP is also included in job descriptions on recruitment portals, and we work closely with hiring managers to clearly articulate opportunities, growth potential, and impact that the role offers. I believe that it’s extremely important for candidates to be able to holistically assess their potential fit with foodpanda, both in scope and culturally.

Q Looking ahead, what emerging trends in talent acquisition and retention do you believe will significantly impact HR strategies in the next 2-3 years, and how are you and your team preparing for these changes?

I believe tech solutions will increasingly play a crucial role in HR strategies, as that’s one of the best ways to improve productivity and efficiency. By outsourcing the more repetitive and high-volume tasks to tech, HR teams can focus on more complex and strategic tasks.

Personally, I spend the majority of my time on data processes and other technologies. We recognise the crucial role of tech in scaling our business, and as the HR team, we need to keep up with these advancements and lead by example.

READ MORE: Attract, engage, retain: How HR leaders are overcoming the struggle of gaining top talent

Lead image / Provided (featuring Ingo Laubender)

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