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Prioritising Learning and Development at Dairy Farm Singapore

As a new decade begins, we move even closer towards the future of a global digital economy and the new world of work. To ensure employees stay relevant in the future workforce, the HR Team of Dairy Farm Singapore has collaborated with its partners and stakeholders to introduce innovative ways of improving work processes.

Ms Jennifer Lee, HR Director (Southeast Asia) at Dairy Farm Singapore, sees the urgency in helping employees navigate this change. The boom of e-commerce grocery stores and revamped hi-tech supermarkets accentuate the need to make changes to traditional supermarkets, in order to secure a sustainable future for both the business and employees.

Supporting the shopping we do weekly, or even daily, is a team of over 8,000 employees from Dairy Farm Singapore with wide-ranging roles that contribute to the customer experience. In order to continue to meet customer expectations, Dairy Farm Singapore has invested in a training roadmap to support its workers.

In collaboration with the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU), Dairy Farm Singapore set up a job, skills and training committee in October 2019, in an effort to help more than 5,000 of its workers adapt to jobs that are being transformed due to technology.

As part of this project, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities is conducting a study on how to help workers transition into new job tasks and how the company can respond to disruption while instilling confidence and commitment in its staff. Thereafter, the workers will be able to attend training and development programmes identified by SUTD Academy.

“Many our team members were initially resistant to change and technology,” Ms Lee mentioned. Having a mature workforce, Dairy Farm hopes to equip its team members with the relevant skills and help them embrace the use of technology.

To support their team members through these changes, Dairy Farm Singapore chose to include them in planning and integration of technology. When they decided to introduce the usage of technology in the business, they involved team members in the design of the applications and seek their inputs to improve the user experience.

In 2019, the focus of the HR team was on enhancing the customer service mindset across our store teams. In addition to the collaboration with FDAWU, Dairy Farm Singapore also sent their staff for training, which paid off when more than 700 workers received the Excellent Service Award from the Singapore Retailers Association.

This has helped their employees realise that there are ample opportunities out there for them to better themselves and gain recognition for their efforts.

“In a dynamic and fast evolving sector like retail, training is essential to ensure that one stays relevant to keep up with innovation and rising expectations.   Perception that training is only relevant if it results in promotion and pay raises is no longer realistic. Through these initiatives, we are hoping to change this thinking, and help our employees to see value in upskilling and retraining,” concluded Ms Lee.

Shop floor workers are not the only ones affected by workforce transformation. Dairy Farm Singapore also saw the importance in developing their Human Resources (HR) team and early last year, the first batch of Dairy Farm Singapore’s HR team successfully completed the IHRP Certification and have joined the 2000-strong IHRP-certified community. Dairy Farm Singapore has also been inducted into the IHRP Corporate Partner Programme.

“IHRP certification is a HR-led initiative that was encouraged and supported by the organisation. We have even seen demand from team members who are in non-HR roles expressing interest to go for the certification because they felt that it could provide them with a formal qualification that they could use to expand their career,” Ms Lee said.

After IHRP certification, her team now has a common understanding of competencies, business expectations and practices. “When they are faced with a problem, instead of just solving it immediately, they look at it from a business-first perspective and at the big picture, finding the root cause first,” she added. It has helped them to gain a fresh perspective and contribute more effectively to the business.

As Dairy Farm Singapore takes active steps to equip staff with skills to succeed in the changing landscape and provide opportunities for training, there is more certainty that they will not just adapt but also thrive in the VUCA environment.

To find out more on how you can be part of the IHRP Corporate Partner Programme,  click here.

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