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Human Resources talks exclusively with Derek Wu, executive VP – global human resources at Lee Kum Kee Sauce Group on how he manages his team in challenging times

How do you see employee benefits changing in a post-COVID-19 world?

We see a rising in employee-focused work culture, with more emphasis on employee satisfaction, which is proven effective when faced with challenges like the pandemic. The coverage of employee benefits is no longer limited to basic healthcare or paid leave.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led companies to emphasise the importance of ensuring the well-beings of their employees, whether it is enhanced hygiene of the workplaces, insurance policy, family-friendly policy, flexible workplace or remote work support.

There is also an increasing need to enhance communication with the employees and ensure resources are made available to support their physical and mental health. This shows that companies are taking initiatives to enhance employee benefits and we see that as a continuing trend even after the COVID-19 pandemic is resolved.

How has your HR role changed during COVID-19?

During the outbreak of COVID-19, the safety of our employees and customers is first and foremost. Our priority is to contain the spread of the virus while addressing issues related to jobs and work continuity and minimising disruption to business operation. 

We have implement different measures to ensure social distancing and do even more, for instance, increasing the number of shuttle buses arranged for employees, rearrange staff canteen set-up and lunch schedule, and provide clear personal hygiene guidelines, to ensure employee and product safety.

When faced with such an unprecedented situation, we believe that time is of the essence and we reinforce business continuity and crisis management globally. We also ensure our employees feel protected and secure.

For employees who are required to work at the production plant to keep our products on the shelves for the community during the pandemic, we strengthen our disease prevention and control measures and communicate the measures taken with the colleagues. We also show tokens of appreciation to recognise their efforts and contribution.

 Personally, what is your HR greatest challenge?

Companies operate in an increasingly complex global environment, for example, with keen competition in the marketplace, digital revolution across sectors and regions, increasingly complex regulatory requirements, and shortage of talent – an enduring challenge.

As a fast-moving multinational corporation, it’s important for us to align human resources strategies to achieve organisational goals and create a talent supply chain that helps sustain our business growth. The use of data-driven HR analytics has become crucial for us to understand emerging needs and changing workforce demographics much earlier, helping us to set priorities.

Nonetheless, leadership development can be regarded as a top challenge, as it focuses on a broader set of skills in the business context that increases talent value to the organisation. At Lee Kum Kee, we provide leadership programmes to all supervisory staff or above, our management trainee programme also offers extensive opportunities and great exposure to young talents.

How would you rate the healthcare component of employee benefits at LKK?

Other than offering an extensive range of staff benefits, health seminars and assessments are arranged for the benefits of our employees. We also ensure our employees are provided with a psychologically safe environment to unleash their potential and suggest innovative ideas to help our business.

We play an active role to improve overall wellbeing of our employees by training employees to better manage their work challenges, enabling managers to be more aware of employees' health and well‐being, promoting the importance of health and wellness through various communication channels, as well as organising volunteer programs to make them feel connected with the local community and enrich their sense of purpose.