This HR team does not hesitate to over-communicate, wherein several sessions of E-Townhall have been established to allow two-way communication with frontline team members worldwide.

With 120 team members worldwide, supporting 1,000 outlets over 17 markets, Bryden Toh, SVP (Group Human Resources, Admin & Training), BreadTalk Group (BTG), shares BTG’s six core values: people, innovation, improvement, integrity, professionalism and giving back - in the team’s success in serving as a bridge between management and employees.

BreadTalk Group took home the gold award for Excellence in HR Communication Strategy and silver for Excellence in HR Team Collaboration, at the HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore. 

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

To me, there is no particular winning strategy, but I am proud to say that I have a winning HR team who are committed, passionate and positive.

BreadTalk Group (BTG) HR Team is made up from a total 120 team members worldwide, distributed across Group HR (COE and Shared Services) and Business Partners from three business divisions namely bakery, food atrium and restaurant division.

Supporting 1,000 outlets over 17 markets, the team has achieved remarkable milestones by not only maintaining the required manpower needs in the industry that is known for its high attrition rate and unilaterally HR projects were also ongoing.

Just last year, we launched our HRIS migration, implemented our succession planning initiatives, and talent development programme.

Despite the geographical spread and cultural differences, the HR team were open to each other and went big on collaboration and worked towards one goal to curate and implement employee engagement programmes, embracing diversity and inclusiveness. All these projects and initiatives provided a good platform to allow strengthening our team rapport and communications amongst the HR team members across the globe.

Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

The BreadTalk HR Team is determined to challenge the status quo. We believe in doing what is right and not what is easy. At the same time, we received a lot of encouragement, garnered support and clarity on future forward from senior leaders.

I believe that “it does not take a leader to just order men into battle. It takes a leader to be one of those men who goes into battle. Be involved, be resilient and take accountability.”

Our HR leads also play an important role to walk-the-talk, and double-down on our HR principles and values so our HR team members take courage to move changes.

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

As the saying goes, “Straight roads do not make skilful driver”. Determination is crucial in facing challenges and if there is a roadblock, take a detour. Be determined on what we believed in being a good HR practitioner, not for individual success or ticking off a checklist in your balanced scorecard, but to value add to the operation and businesses.

BTG practises six core values namely, people, innovation, improvement, integrity, professionalism, and giving back. We are passionate in what we are doing, because we believe in our HR values that can contribute to the business. Likewise, sharing the same values with business leaders in BTG and partnering them in operations helps to build confidence and trust towards HR Team.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

Winning the HR Excellence Awards is a journey and not our destination; this award will serve as a great motivation for the team to strive further and a checkpoint for us to reflect on our gaps and areas of improvement.

From a ROI evaluation standpoint, we have common indicators such as attrition rate, new hires rate, etc. However, given the focus were more engagement-centric and leaned towards online communication channel (owing to our worldwide operations), we also looked into other aspects, such as the rate of participation on team member engagement activities, click-rate or readership rates and the quality and approach towards curating engagement contents as well.

On the intangible side of things, we see a significant boost in synergy level across the teams and the KPI results delivery were significantly higher as compared to previous years within the HR team. More significantly, these HR projects were joint collaborations and some were implemented in tandem across various regions, which is a big shout-out for us!

End of the day, the team enjoyed the fruits of its labour not only by way of how it impacts the greater BTG community, but also internally as a team – the precious moments and priceless memories of team bonding and true learning from knowledge discovery in the process of project participation.

Q One of HR’s biggest responsibilities this year has been crisis communication and engagement, as a bridge between the management and staff. What are some lessons you’ve learnt in an eventful year of improving communication?

Many industries have been impacted by the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the frontline team members, HR plays a crucial role behind the scene to keep the business stay resilient, promote safe and healthy workplace, and cope with the rapid changes sprung out from the global pandemic situation. HR practitioners were put into trying situations to make tough decisions, manage retrenchment exercises, creatively deploy excess manpower and implement various measures in managing the manpower cost.

Applause and thank you to all HR practitioners!

Communication and employee engagement remains the key focus in BTG, it is important to over-communicate and more important to reach our team members directly. Several sessions of E-Townhall have been established to allow two-way communication with our frontline team members worldwide.

Creatively, we even brought HR live broadcasts to engage with team members, and bursary awards for the needy children. We will strive to continue our efforts in engaging and recognising our team members in this momentum to the best that we are able to!

Not forgetting self-care! We bring fun to our HR team members with small surprises, engage them just like any other team members – listen to their concerns and keep them aligned to our goals.

I am proud of our BTG HR Team as we remain strong and vibrant, despite facing challenging situation and the increased workload handling various setbacks in all regions. Most importantly, we have to remain positive to care for our frontline team members.

Photo / BreadTalk Group

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section! 

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