The Future of Work Conference | Singapore

I was asked to speak at The Future of Work Conference in Singapore that Microsoft and Questex put on at the Marriott Hotel the other day. The conference was dedicated to the future of; HR, offices, scheduling, sales, and marketing.

I was asked to speak on the topic of HR and how technology can be an enabler to maximize productivity as well as attract and retain talent. So, I spoke from our experience.

Here is a quick recap:

1. Reasons for Employee Turnover – most reasons employees leave are related to something the company has direct control over.

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2. Adventure Engineering – We talked about PayrollHero’s #AdventureEngineering program and why it came about. Basically, we were looking for ways to compete for talent in a highly competitive worldwide market. Here is the video that we made that explains the program:

3. We chatted about how we work to get feedback from our teams, how we have made some products to help our clients do the same and how transparency helps us build our company culture. Some of the tools we talked about were PayrollHero’s DailyPulse, Xray Insights and tools like 7Geese.

4. Finally, we talked about how our jobs page is laid out on our website. How it is very specific about each role, how the company works, the rhythms we follow as well as a few easter eggs that some applicants find and mention in their cover letters.

After I was joined on stage with a few HR professionals for a panel discussion about HR and the future of work.


 

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Improve Your Restaurant Performance with HR Analytics – FREE Webinar from PayrollHero

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Whoever said that nothing in this world is free was lying!

Because on December 8, 2015. At exactly 11 AM (UTC +8), Singapore Standard Time, we’ll be hosting an epic webinar that talks about leveraging HR Analytics to improve restaurant performance.

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In this webinar, restaurant owners will learn about the following:

  • Learn how to respond to business in advance using predictive analytics for HR
  • Improving organizational performance
  • Optimizing talent supply chain
  • Benefits of HR Analytics to your restaurant’s sales performance
  • Data-driven decision making

And many more! 

We don’t want to spill too much info, but we’d really love it if you could join our webinar

If you’re a restaurant owner, or an HR director / manager of a restaurant, this is a webinar that you definitely shouldn’t miss. 

We’re going to provide content that you can implement and leverage right after the webinar.

The best part about this webinar is that you will have instant learning in just 27 minutes of content!

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^ It’s really that simple. You’ll be able to implement your learnings immediately and make a direct impact to your restaurant’s positive performance.

So to all restaurant owners / HR personnel, do spread the word and save the date:

December 8, 2015 (Tuesday), 11:00 AM (UTC +8) Singapore Standard Time

This webinar will surely be worth your while. Save your seat below!

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We’ll see you there!

Be a Better Manager in 10 Minutes or Less

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Many would like to believe that people quit jobs because of greener pastures such as better pay and greater benefits. In reality, employees leave because of their managers.

Not convinced? Survey results by the market research firm Gallup released last April revealed that half of the 7,200 respondents left jobs “to get away from their manager.”

As a manager, you may have failed to realize that your small yet talented team of employees are walking out the door not to pursue fatter paychecks, but because of management.

Put simply, it has to do with you.

Such sobering statistic should be treated as an opportunity for small business managers to build a team culture of supporting one another. Like most relationship issues, there is no one-size-fits-all formula to becoming an excellent manager.

The following tiny, yet meaningful gestures can certainly make a difference though. The best part is you can do them in 10 minutes or less!

Call everyone by their first name.

In this book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote:

Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Likewise, social experiments proved that calling people by their first name makes it more likely for them to comply to your requests.

Make an effort to get to know everyone in your team. Your employees are humans too. They have lives outside of work — they have a family that they deeply care about or hobbies and interests that keep them busy outside the office. Take the time to figure these things out and greet them by their first name the next time you are in the office. By doing so, you build rapport that will eventually lead to trust in the long run.

Dig deeper into each employee’s resentment.

Most employees have their own version of what they are currently bitter about in their jobs. For some, it’s working extra hours and not being able to spend dinner with their family. Or missing a few drinks with friends every Friday night. Perhaps, it’s the lack of flexible hours within the workweek.

It varies for everyone but the takeaway here is to check on these resentments regularly. Subsequently, ask your employees about an activity outside of work that they consider important and pry them for possible solutions (they can extend work hours the next day, shorten lunch breaks for a couple of days, or ask someone to cover for them temporarily).

Doing this quick exercise will prevent resentments from evolving into a full-blown mess of hatred and bitterness.

Ask your employees for advice.

Ha! Why would a manager do that? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Social psychologist and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Robert Cialdini offers one seemingly counterintuitive yet effective suggestion to making your employees like you: Ask them for advice. This could range from personal advice like book recommendations to professional advice such as asking their opinion about social media platforms that they deem are ideal for your digital marketing campaign.

By and large, this gives the impression that you, as a manager, value their opinions. Bonus points if you follow their advice and update them that you’ve done one of their suggestions!

Provide specific compliments and insert a negative comment in between.

The keyword here is specific. Sure, it’s easy to give out praise. “You’ve done a great job” or “Keep up the good work” are nothing but empty words of encouragement. Go out of your way to specifically determine the things that each employee has done well. Sincere forms of recognition are always appreciated.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to give out constructive feedback when an employee is obviously off track. In this Harvard Business Review article, the authors talk about the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio:

The average ratio for the highest-performing teams was 5.6 (that is, nearly six positive comments for every negative one). The medium-performance teams averaged 1.9 (almost twice as many positive comments than negative ones.) But the average for the low-performing teams, at 0.36 to 1, was almost three negative comments for every positive one.

The key point is to keep your negative comment as objective and rational as possible. Furthermore, consistently giving compliments ensures that you are within the ideal 5.6 to 1 praise-criticism ratio.

Offer one thing (no matter how small) to help an employee achieve a personal long-term goal.

Everyone has their own set of side-projects, long-term goals, and bucket lists. Say one of your web developers has been thinking about learning Python. Or someone from your sales team is keen about filling in one of the graphic designer posts.

Every so often, employees are interested in upgrading their arsenal of skills or learning things outside of their expertise. Why not do one thing to help them achieve these goals?

Offer to shoulder half of the paid online Python course to the web developer. Or ask the sales rep if he would like to shadow one of the designers for an hour each week? These little things will keep your employees motivated. The more they’re excited about their work, the greater the chance that they’ll work hard for you.

Final Thoughts

Tiny acts of appreciation and kindness are often overlooked, yet they have the biggest impact to becoming a better manager. Put them into action today and see what happens next.

Tell us about the results in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter!

Creative Destruction in the F&B Industry

Creative Destruction in the F&B IndustryCreative destruction, a term coined by the economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942, is the concept of “incessant product and process innovation mechanism by which new production units replace outdated ones.” Schumpeter says that disruption is an important part of capitalism because it increases productivity.

As the term suggests, creative destruction isn’t a particularly comfortable concept, especially for those who are on the wrong side of it. The invention of the steam engine led to the creative destruction of travel by horses. The invention of automobiles led to the creative destruction of travel by steam engines. It’s an inevitable result of innovation which can make complete industries obsolete, and take thousands of jobs along with it. The positive outcome is that it creates new industries and redefines jobs within them.

So where is all of this going? McDonald’s recently announced its plan to install self ordering kiosks, thereby reducing manpower in their outlets. It’s not the only company to make a move towards automation. Chili’s Grill and Bar has made a move towards self ordering tablets. Restaurants in the US find automation a way to improve productivity.

There already exists a machine that creates 360 gourmet hamburgers in an hour. The entire machine could replace any human making burgers in the kitchen. According to this report, McDonald’s could fund the development of a burger making machine and see a one year return on investment. There are many reasons why companies are moving towards automating their processes.

In the United States, a big reason for this is the growing cost of labour. Currently, the minimum wage in the US is $7.25 per hour. For a few years now, workers in the F&B industry have protested that this number is far too low for it to be sustainable. They say that the reasonable wage floor should be at $15 per hour. LA recently passed legislation for $15 per hour.

The result of this is that fast food franchises are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the labour costs. The alternative is to automate. Mundane and repetitive tasks can be done by smart machines. Jobs where human interaction is required, like serving food, can be taken up by people. Another reason why automation makes sense is that it’s more efficient and faster. Queues are shorter, human errors are less common, if not completely erased.

You can see parallels in the F&B industry between the US and countries like Japan and Singapore. On the one hand, labour costs are increasing in the US, forcing companies to automate. On the other hand, Japan and Singapore are facing a labour crunch often due to unwillingness of the countries’ citizens to participate in this industry, leading these countries to automate as well. The story is the same, where labour as a factor of production is being replaced by machines that can do the same work and produce better results. And this is where creative destruction fits in.

What does this mean for the F&B industry? Restaurant technology will develop and will facilitate automation. The hamburger machine by Momentum Machines, Inc is just the beginning in the back-end of a restaurant. POS systems, self ordering kiosks, cloud based scheduling applications and online reservation websites are taking over the work of regular staff in a restaurant. An entire ecosystem of automation surrounding retail and F&B already exists but what will trigger the momentum of creative destruction is the lack of a sustainable solution to the problem of increasing costs: in this case, the cost of labour.

How to Deal with the Labour Crunch in Singapore

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As you know, the F&B sector in Singapore has been facing a labour crunch for years now. Currently, for every foreign worker, the F&B sector needs to hire 6 local workers which is an impossible ratio for companies to handle. To attract more local workers, restaurants have had to raise costs without any increase in quality of service. Restaurants that were unable to do this resorted to leaving tables empty.

The Restaurant Association of Singapore proposed some solutions, including relaxing the foreign workers’ levy. While this measure is up to the government’s discretion, there are ways that restaurants can cope with the labour crunch.

Increasing Productivity through Technology

There are many front-end and back-end processes that can be streamlined by automating. In terms of adopting new technology, the restaurant industry has traditionally lagged behind the rest. However, the need to automate is clearer now than ever before. There are many examples in Singapore where restaurants have installed POS systems, set up digital menus or moved the practice of making reservations online.

Sakae Sushi in Singapore is a great example of automated processes. They have a conveyor belt that serves sushi. The belt is an island that is surrounded by tables so that customers can pick whichever dish they like. The restaurant also has iPads on every table to allow customers to order using the menu on the iPad.

McDonald’s Singapore is just catching up to the reality of increasing costs. Four out of approximately 120 outlets in Singapore have kiosks from which customers can order. 20% of their customers use kiosks. The systems reduce manpower required to take orders. It also makes the ordering process fool-proof, thereby saving time and money by preventing errors due to miscommunication between the customer and employee. In addition to reducing errors, McDonald’s employees can focus on back-end tasks and speed up service.

Balancing out costs: The result of automating is that there are shorter queues and more customers walking in through the door. The self ordering payment systems that Ananda Bhavan, a restaurant chain in Singapore uses, cost around $40,000. But in the long run, the investment pays off because of more orders and higher revenue.

To see a more tangible improvement in processes, Aptsys – a self-ordering POS system – released statistics on their website on how their product benefits restaurants. By their estimates, ordering speed increased by 70%, repeat orders increased by 30% and human errors decreased by 80%.

Tax credits: The government of Singapore has come up with incentives for companies to adopt newer technology. This includes training the staff with the new technology as well. The Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme gives companies a 400% tax deductions or 60% cash payout as long as the improvements in technology come under the six qualifying activities.

Singaporean restaurants are increasingly seeing a fall in revenue because of empty tables and increasing labour costs. The only way for the industry to cope with falling margins is to adopt technology that can reduce manpower. We have previously suggested ways to upgrade and adopt new technology in areas of reservations, POS systems and food delivery. Over the next few years, it remains to be seen whether foreign worker quotas will be relaxed in order to release the pressure that these industries are under. Currently, the way to move forward is by using the tax credits that the government is offering to upgrade restaurant technology.

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The World of Restaurant Technology in Singapore

The tiny red dot, as Singapore is often called, is an interesting testing ground for restaurant technology. Singapore is famous for its awesome food. From hawker stalls to gourmet dining, the restaurant scene in Singapore is vibrant and diverse.

At PayrollHero, a huge part of being ridiculously client focused is in understanding what our clients need and use on a regular basis. What do Singaporean restaurants do for point of sale systems, for reservations, for creating menus or for scheduling shifts for their employees? There are a ton of apps out there that are especially designed for this industry. We looked at some apps that piqued our interest.

Reserving Tables: Chope

Asia’s answer to OpenTable and SeatMe: Chope helps diners reserve tables at restaurants in Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Bangkok and Hong Kong, free of cost. Restaurants can manage reservations through Chope. The company is expanding and adding new restaurants to its list every week.

Point of Sales Systems: PCS

Prima Computer Systems tackles the problem of inefficient POS systems. The cloud based solution makes it easier for a multi-location restaurant franchises to integrate POS systems. The app allows you to create and change menus in iPads, therefore reducing manpower costs. Considering the labour crunch in the F&B industry in Singapore, this helps restaurants focus their employees towards providing better service.

Digital Wallets

Singapore was one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to adopt digital wallets, back in 2012. Many restaurants have adopted mobile payment options. In terms of consumer readiness, Singapore comes second only to the Philippines at 17%. It beats all other countries for electronic payments at 42%. Local and international banks are a part of this movement towards mobile payments. OCBC’s Pay Anyone, DBS’s PayLah! and Standard Chartered Bank’s Dash are all useful options that restaurateurs should look at to integrate their POS systems with.

An interesting thing to note for restaurants and for businesses that are building easier payment methods is that the demographics on who is using mobile payments is revealing of whom the target market should be. Unsurprisingly, millennials lead the move towards mobile payments. More importantly, data shows that men are twice as likely to adopt the new technology compared to women. CEO of Harbourtouch (company that did the survey on the demographics of mobile and electronic payments), Jared Isaacman, said that there is a void when it comes to mobile payment in restaurants. Retail stores use this technology far more frequently, which indicates a potential opportunity in the F&B industry.

Loyalty Apps: Perx

Perx says that customers spend 7 times more using Perx than without. Loyalty apps remove the hassle of printing loyalty cards and trying to measure how effective the cards are. Perx offers a CRM solutions and a platform for businesses. Restaurant owners have access to how effective the loyalty app is in increasing revenue.

Inventory Management: TradeGecko

TradeGecko is racing through Asia. The Enterprise Resource Planning software is integrated with Xero, Quickbooks and Shopify among other companies. It offers analytics reports on inventory and stock. From the perspective of the F&B industry, TradeGecko helps a chef or a restaurant keep tabs on supplies. All this is done using the cloud, which simplifies the entire process for a restaurant chain.

There are two similarities that link all these apps together:

  • They are all cloud based
  • They all complement scalability.

Our research into Southeast Asia led us to an interesting observation. A single restaurant franchise owner may operate across multiple countries. Apps like these are useful for the kind of owner that needs to keep tabs on all his outlets, across different countries. It helps the restaurant owner that currently owns one café and is looking for a way to open 25 more within two years.

We also noticed that in Southeast Asia, consumption trends suggest that fast food chains are going to excel in the next five years. For example, the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for fast food chains in the Philippines is 8.1% between 2013 and 2017. The potential that this poses for cloud based solutions is both exciting and massive.

Over the last few weeks, we have been looking deeply into the F&B industry. We focused on the Philippines and Singapore, with the idea of comparing and contrasting a nascent economy versus a mature one to figure out the potential that this region poses. We also compared what kind of employee compensation and benefits are provided by these countries with the perspective of figuring out what our client – a restaurant owner – is most concerned about.

While the data supported some assumptions or destroyed preconceived notions, we found out that there was more to this research than just raw data. We spoke to restaurant owners on the ground to listen to their stories and build a clearer picture.

Finally, we compiled all of it into a nice little package that we call the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit. It provides snippets into our research with statistics on the F&B industry in Singapore and the Philippines. We are super excited about sharing it with you because we want to know how it helps startups that are catering to the F&B industry. We also want to hear about the insight that you have gained from working in this part of the world.

The pictures below link you to the PH and SG Knowledge Kits. Open it, browse through it and shoot us with questions. We want to know what you think.

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New Feature on the PayrollHero App!

We have a new feature on the PayrollHero app!

Our Devs (developers) are constantly working towards improving functionality of the app. To that end, we have a new feature to enhance a human resource manager’s tools. It’s a simple addition to the app that allows the HR manager or payroll administrator to:

  1. check the GPS coordinates of employees who are clocking in.
  2. record which device they are clocking in from

The feature sits in the Employees tab and under the Rollcall Days section. You can see the list of days that the employee has clocked in, their IP address, GPS coordinates linking to Google maps and the device that they used: TeamClock or #MyClock. If there are any issues with clocking in with a particular device, the HR admin can point out what specific device the problem arose from. This information can also be used as Business Intelligence to make decision on staffing and installing the best devices in your outlets.

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The feature is already live for all PayrollHero users!

How do I open a restaurant in Singapore? Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit!

The PayrollHero blog aims to be the knowledge repository for any restaurant owner or retailer in Southeast Asia. We have built our database with things you need to know while doing business in Singapore.

With that in mind, we have been working on a little project. Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit!

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Download now… Free!
This starter kit was put together to give you high level information about Singapore, share some thoughts from restaurant owners, and present relevant statistics from our market research.

The information here includes research that will help you open a restaurant in Singapore or expand into the country.

  • We talk about what CPF contributions are with information about the different Ethnic Funds that require contributions.The pages are linked to relevant tax forms and websites that offer more detailed information if you want it.
  • There is an industry overview and analysis on the latest consumption trends in the country. We give you a salary table to refer to for your Human Resources (HR) team in Singapore.
  • We also give you practical write-ups on how to get an import license, food hygiene requirements and the best internet service provider for your restaurants.

But we don’t want to give you simple hard facts that you could just Google anyway. The Knowledge Kit has a wealth of information in the form of personal stories and experiences in these countries. We interviewed the president of SaladStop!, Mr. Adrien Desbaillets. He gave advice on how he chooses locations in Singapore among other practical nuggets of information. We see it as a way to help the community because there is no better way to learn than from people who have gone through the same roadblocks as your are facing right now.

We hope this information is useful to you. We would love to hear back from you with what you think about the Knowledge Kit, how we can make things better and how you use this Kit for your own research into the restaurant industry.

Lastly, we are releasing more of these for the retail industry. Watch out for more information about these industries and countries. We have also created a Knowledge Kit for the Philippines.

So go ahead and click on the image above to access the Knowledge Kit. Let us know what you think. And good luck with your new business!

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How do I open a restaurant in the Philippines? Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit!

The PayrollHero blog aims to be the knowledge repository for any restaurant owner or retailer in Southeast Asia. We have built our database with things you need to know while doing business in the Philippines.

With that in mind, we have been working on a little project. Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit for opening a restaurant in the Philippines!

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Download it now – free! 
This starter kit was put together to give you high level information about the Philippines, share some thoughts from restaurant owners, and present relevant statistics from our market research.

The information here includes research that will help you open a restaurant in the Philippines or expand into the country.

  • We talk about what BIR, SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG are all about.The pages are linked to relevant tax forms and websites that offer more detailed information if you want it.
  • There is an industry overview and analysis on the latest consumption trends in the country. For example, did you know that the Home delivery and takeaway sector grew at a staggering 10.3%. It’s closest competitor was the fast food industry at 8.1%.

But we don’t want to give you simple hard facts that you could just Google anyway. The Knowledge Kit has a wealth of information in the form of personal stories and experiences in these countries. We interviewed the owner of the Advent Manila Hospitality Group, Mr. Andrew Masigan, and asked him about how he runs his business in this part of the world. We see it as a way to help the community because there is no better way to learn than from people who have gone through the same roadblocks as your are facing right now.

We hope this information is useful to you. We would love to hear back from you with what you think about the Knowledge Kit, how we can make things better and how you use this Kit for your own research into the restaurant industry.

Lastly, we are releasing more of these for the retail and BPO industry. Watch out for more information about these industries and countries.

So go ahead and click on the image above to access the Knowledge Kit. Let us know what you think. And good luck with your new business!

Continue reading

Executive Interview: Horst von Wendorff from VKWInc.com

Horst of VKWIncHorst von Wendorff founded Virtual Knowledge Workers Inc. in 2009. VKW Inc helps companies outsource scheduling, customer service, telemarketing, social media management and more. We asked Horst about his experiences while operating a BPO in the Philippines.

 

1. Tell me more about VKWinc.com
VKW was an academic pet project of mine during my MBA studies – more of a learning tool than a company that I actually intended to launch. It was 2010 when I graduated during the financial crisis in the US. I applied for jobs but there were simply none. VKW became Plan B. If nobody gives you a job, you employ yourself. I would hire myself, certainly; and so I did! VKW started signing clients and with that Plan B became Plan A. I became an Entrepreneur more out of necessity than inspired choice. And with that VKW was born.

 

2. Why did you choose to setup in the Philippines? What are the benefits of the Philippines?
I looked at various countries including India, China, and Eastern Europe. Philippines stood out for the US-Market. With a little training, workers can become accent neutral, in-tune with US culture, and, above all, there’s strong pool of quality talent. It’s an HR dreamland.

 

3. Who is your target customer?
We’re very friendly to early stage companies. We have client friendly cancellation terms, no minimum headcount, and no setup fee. We are invested in the client as much as the client is invested in us. In fact, many of our clients started with just one agent and now they employ teams of 5 or 10+ just a year or two later. We’re here to earn mutual trust and with that grow with our clients, together.

 

4. What services do you offer customers?
Our core competencies are customer service, content moderation and sales-support. We have interesting case studies posted on our website. We’re happy to let you look over our shoulders. All our agents are equipped with a webcam. Come talk to us. We’re open.

 

5. What pitfalls should be avoided when operating in the Philippines?
During my MBA studies, I learned that there’s a disconnect in the BPO market. BPO providers sell on price, but the market is asking for Quality & Trust. The trend in outsourcing is to find reliable quality labor. Buyers of BPO services don’t want to buy employees or time-sheets, they want to buy results and key performance indicators for their business processes. Yet, the BPO market sells on price as if contact center agents are a commodity item. $6/hour, $5/hour, $3/hour. Offering an ever lower price does not breed Quality & Trust.

VKW is not a discount provider nor do we aim to be one. We’re good at attracting and retaining quality workers and make them available to our clients.

6. For other foreigners coming to setup a BPO in the Philippines, what advice would you give them?
While Filipinos have a good understanding of US culture, that doesn’t mean you don’t need a good understanding of Filipino culture.

 

7. Regarding PayrollHero, why did you choose it for your BPO?
PayrollHero was built by a BPO company to solve their own payroll problem. We simply have the same problem. PayrollHero is a perfect fit for us.

 

8. What is your favorite feature or benefit of PayrollHero for you?
Great customer service!

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