Flexible work arrangements key to employee recruitment, retention
Paradise Group Holdings’ Karen Tan talks about their commitment to employees’ work-life harmony and their adoption of the Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements.
The food and beverage industry is known for its long working hours and different work shifts, making hiring and retaining employees an enormous and continuing challenge. These issues were magnified at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As pandemic restrictions have considerably eased, companies are discovering that adopting flexible work arrangements (FWA) is key to hiring or getting their employees to return to the office.
Paradise Group Holdings, a Singapore-based restaurant group, was a pioneer in implementing work-life and FWA initiatives in 2012.
“We started such flexi-work schemes ten years ago when it was still pretty unheard of. We wanted to attract and retain employees by offering flexibility in working hours. We also wanted to attract more locals, such as secondary breadwinners and tertiary students, to supplement our full-time workforce,” said Karen Tan, Regional HR Director of Paradise Group.
“Over the years, our flexi-work schemes have generated much interest. Other F&B companies have also started implementing similar schemes in the last few years.”
Out-of-the-box FWA Programmes
Today, about 15% of Paradise Group’s 1,300-strong workforce benefits from the company’s FWA and telecommuting programme. To hire and attract more employees, the organisation came up with four out-of-the-box FWA schemes for its frontline or operational F&B employees.
- Half-day regulars - For senior workers, those with family or caregiving responsibilities
- Workday regulars - For homemakers who prefer working certain hours on weekdays
- Weekends/Public holidays - For tertiary students and young adults
- 3-day work week - For senior workers, those with family or caregiving responsibilities. Newly implemented in 2020.
It is fairly easy for full-time employees who wish to tap into these FWA schemes. They only need to inform their superiors, and it can be effective from the 1st of the next month as long as their work is not affected. Employees on Flexi-Work schemes enjoy similar benefits as their full-time, regular counterparts, such as monthly bonuses and outlets-related incentives.
“Having a variety of flexi-work schemes which cater to the different groups of individuals puts us in a more favourable position as a potential employer,” said Tan. “It also serves as a retention tool for existing employees who can no longer work regular full-time hours due to personal circumstances. They can consider our non-full-time work options instead of exiting the workforce altogether.”
The implementation of FWAs has improved Paradise Group’s talent retention significantly. Company data shows that their employees stay for an average of 3 years. More than 22% have been with the company for 5 years and above, whilst 5% have more than 10 years of service. The longest-serving service/kitchen staff has served for about 17 years, and about 100 employees are set to receive their 10-year-long service award early next year.
Casting a Wider Net
To accommodate “gig” workers such as food delivery personnel who are unable to commit to full-time hours, the company shares FWA information when the opportunity arises.
“We have also been working with organisations such as Yellow Ribbon Singapore and Project Dignity on providing their beneficiaries with FWAs. We are prepared to work out the existing FWAs or requests on working patterns or hours for them.
Remote Work Corporate Functions
For employees who perform office or corporate functions, the company introduced the telecommuting scheme. Prior to launching the programme, the company laid down the groundwork to ensure employees were ready for the switch. This included establishing the infrastructure, arranging for laptops for all employees, providing access to databases and VPNs, and having the IT support team on standby.
The company also researched industry-based protocols for staff working from home, and updated employees on remote work initiatives, including employee engagement.
Currently, Paradise Group’s employees have returned to the office to facilitate interaction and operational needs after the two-year lockdown. However, the organisation continues to provide telecommuting opportunities and introduced staggered work hours.
“The company recognised the benefits of continuing to offer work-from-home options, such as lesser time spent on commuting and more flexibility in work and life schedules,” Tan said.
More Flexibility in the Future
To further demonstrate its commitment to its employees’ work-life harmony, Paradise Group adopted the Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements in April 2020 and enhanced their flexible work options that benefit both the organisation and their employees.
Implementing FWAs has given the company flexibility in manpower deployment, and the capability to better attract and retain employees. It also enhances engagement, motivation, productivity, and satisfaction whilst addressing employees’ work-life needs.
Moving forward, Paradise Group “expects hybrid remote work arrangements to dominate the future of work patterns and is likely one of the main motivations for employees, especially the relatively younger generation,” Tan predicted.
She highlighted that the sooner employers embrace FWA practices, the fewer challenges they would face in meeting the needs of the evolving workforce. This, in turn, will translate into greater employee satisfaction and retention.
The Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements (TS FWA) specifies a set of verifiable and actionable practices that employers should implement at the workplace to help their employees better manage their work-life needs through flexible work options.
The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) also offers complimentary Tripartite Standards Clinics to help employers establish these practices.