For those in the business of shipping products to people, times have never been so challenging – especially for moving food products. An ever-changing list of disruptions have made it increasingly difficult to connect families and individuals to the products they love. However, there's a lot that HAVI Freight Management Singapore is getting right in its mission to manage thousands of shipments daily – reliably and safely.
At the 10th annual edition of HR Excellence Awards, Singapore in 2022, HAVI Freight Management Singapore, was enlisted as a finalist for Excellence in Workforce Flexibility.
We catch up with Jamie Ong, HR Business Partner, HAVI Freight Management Singapore on how and why the employee engagement results have improved for Asia across business verticals, as well as learn about other benefits accrusing from its strategy, such as a more stabilised workforce.
Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs and lows of your winning strategy?
Our HR strategy is grounded in our focus on 'empowered people'. This means being laser-focused on cultivating the collective behaviours, attitudes, talents, policies, and processes that help our people bring their authentic selves every day and ultimately enable them to do the best work of their careers here at HAVI.
This is not always easy! The last few years have been extraordinarily tough for many supply chain businesses.
At HAVI Freight Management (HFM), we’ve been able to navigate market disruption first by remaining true to our strategy and second by taking an agile approach. This is equally true for HR.
By taking a more flexible approach to our HR practices, we strengthened our ability to retain and motivate our employees, and in doing so, we’ve helped the business remain competitive. We didn’t intend to win an award, but we are certainly glad to get recognised!
Q How did the HR team identify and align the business & employee needs and craft out this perfect solution?
We spoke to our leaders to understand the pressures facing the business, we connected with employees to assess the impact on our people, and as HR, we worked together to prioritise actions to balance the two better.
On the business front, we faced new and exceptional challenges, ranging from the ocean freight crisis and record freight rates to staff shortages. In response, our small but strong team does everything to go above and beyond for our customers.
But as HR professionals know, such practices are not sustainable. Turnover increased as our people faced the pressure. We knew we needed to make big changes and fast. First, by updating our people policies, we created a more flexible workplace that enables employees to manage their work-life balance better. Second, by leveraging technology, we helped drive efficiencies across various processes, enabling our people to better manage their time and tasks more efficiently.
Q Could you share the results that your strategy has delivered – be it on the business, HR, or people side?
Our last Employee Pulse Survey in June 2022 shows that overall employee engagement improved for Asia, and results for the freight business were also the best across other business verticals. This was a great achievement for us and definitely an indication to the leadership team that we are heading in the right direction.
As for the technology and people initiatives that are still in place, I am proud to say we are in a much better place compared to a year ago! Today, HFM sees a more stabilised workforce which is experiencing the benefits of digitalisation. Through education and communication, employees now better understand our systems, and there are efficiency gains from the shortened order management processes and systems training.
On the people side, hiring costs are reduced thanks to lower attrition.
Q What is your message to all the stakeholders who have supported you in this journey?
Although this is an HR-related award, I must say that we would not have come this far had it not been for everyone’s commitment. My fellow leadership team and I strongly believe in continuous improvements, and this is a team effort. We thrive because we believe we can be better together.
We are proud to see successes along the journey of the organisation’s transformation, from achievements in digital acceleration to recognition from customers. These achievements happened all because of a more engaged workforce. There is nothing else to say except for a "big thank you", and "please continue to collaborate and give your support to HR!".
Q What are you most excited about when you think about the future of HR?
With all that has happened globally, I truly believe that HR plays an even more pivotal role in organisational change than before. One thing that excites me is how my HR colleagues and I can lead the organisation in building a resilient workforce with adaptability and agility. This is complicated within a multi-generation workforce, and as HR practitioners, we often question how we can be more flexible and sensitive to the needs of a diverse community of people, to keep them engaged and aligned with the organisation and to ensure our workforce is the right one to help meet our growth ambition.
Of course, I do hope to duplicate the win of HFM Singapore in other countries across Asia. We may not be a big corporation, but I see a lot of potential in us becoming a highly agile and adaptive business.
Image / Provided (featuring the Ansac team)
Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!