Tailoring work to the individual

Company Name = PepsiCo ANZ

Industry = FMCG

Number of employees = 1,600

Long before the world even heard of COVID-19, PepsiCo had already thought about the future of work. Addressing the future needs of consumers, customers, employees and their communities, will require major changes in the way, where and when they worked. The biggest change they foresaw would be that the office would no longer be the default of the work environment. When the plague came, it acted as a catalyst to implement many of these changes – overnight.

Like most organizations, there were challenges as the epidemic continued and people were removed from the office and from each other. Being a company with a social culture whose mission is to ‘create more smiles at every sip and every bite, their people have missed out on the social benefits of being in the office. The key to overcoming this was in their approach to flexible work.

PepsiCo’s philosophy of flexible work recognized that the quality of work life means different things to different people and a ‘unit for everyone’ approach has never been appropriate. This has led them to the idea that work arrangements really need to be tailored to the individual and this will ensure them the best people who will do their job best every day.

Flexibility in PepsiCo: Adapting work to a person

“Our commitment to cultivating a culture of flexible work for all ensures that the best people will do their best work every day.”– Danny Tzeloni, CEO of PepsiCo ANZ

As a result, they have reviewed their flexible work policies and removed a number of barriers. Their new policy, launched in May last year, was built around three pillars:

  1. Flexible time – Adjust the daily start / end time to help employees meet personal commitments (no core hours or start / end time). The team chooses when they choose to start / end their work day.
  2. Flexplace – Work from an alternative location, that is, a home, client site or other PepsiCo site.
  3. Flexday – Employees choose the days when they want to work from home or be in the office.

The organization then went further and established the refreshing policy with new flexible principles:

  • Flexibility – enables our employees to deliver excellent results
  • Employees can be flexible so they can thrive personally and professionally
  • Ongoing dialogue with employees and their managers is the key to an optimal flexibility program
  • A unique flexibility program for the employee’s life, position and business needs
  • Flexibility can be consistent or vary from week to week
  • Flexibility does not consist of performance – it allows.

Using the principles of flexibility, PepsiCo has developed internal campaigns to help encourage flexible conversation across the organization. Earlier this year PepsiCo launched a ‘Max your Flex – Work It Your Way’ campaign to help educate team members that flexibility is what they do it. Through storytelling and employees share their resilience stories they help demonstrate what resilience can look like and how team members can make it work for themselves and for the organization.

Implementing the change

Like most organizational changes, flexible work implementation depends particularly on leaders. However, when leaders and managers do not take advantage of flexibility, often people will not feel desired to do so on their own. Finding leadership and creating a role model are therefore critical to driving flexibility and ultimately to the future of a company’s work culture.

Knowing that their leaders would play this significant role in implementing flexible work, PepsiCo used the policy refresher as an opportunity to educate their leaders about returning to the job and flexibility. Managers have been mentored, trained and encouraged how to conduct conversations with their staff members about what their return plan to the office will look like.

“Having a family of 5, working on a global project spanning 4 different time zones and being an active healthy person, I would not cope without being flexible – something would have to be given. Flextime, Flexday and Flexplace allow me to have it all!” – LIZ DONOHUE GREEN, Commercial IT Manager at ANZ

Results: Substantial change

The result was a fundamental shift to complete trust in their people and this was largely due to the leadership spirit. It was not just a plugin or something that was added to workplace policies.

“When every company’s leadership team has a clear and unified defined vision for the flexible workplace they want to create, it permeates every level of the business.” – Anita Patrick, Human Resources Manager, PepsiCo, ANZ

Today they see the realization of benefits as their people around the business invent their full potential. Their most recent organizational health survey showed that 82% of their people (a 4% increase from last year) feel comfortable with leveraging local flexibility policies to balance their work and personal lives. Flexibility has certainly become a valued benefit for PepsiCo people and contributes to managing workloads while balancing with boundaries to prevent overwork.

They point out, of course, that this did not happen overnight – it has been in the making for years with a consistent and deliberate approach. Now, they consistently see high involvement of people and low attrition. Flexibility is also a key factor in attracting quality talent to their organization. Most importantly it has been translated into strong business results thanks to their high performance people, with leading innovation and growth in categories.

If we go back to PepsiCo’s global work plan, the organization knows that the behavior of the work will change depending on the person’s job, tasks and preferred ways of working. Leaders and their team members will be empowered to determine what is best for them and their team. As for the office, it has certainly not lost its relevance: they see in it the space to create, celebrate, connect and collaborate. Because work now takes place in a number of places and spaces, their flexible job offer has brought clarity to the purpose of the way they work and interact. It has helped revive their social culture to keep everyone connected while balancing the needs of the individual, staff and business. Something their people no doubt smile about.

Flexibility in PepsiCo: Adapting work to a person

“In the IT function, a lot of my work hours are after 17:00, so I’ll arrange my work time to start later. Tonight, for example, I have a football practice with my daughter and then a zoom call between 19: 30-21: “I will start from the field on our way home. Tomorrow I will start later in the morning so that I can train or enjoy family time.” – Brian Green, CIO of PepsiCo ANZ

The FlexReport for 2021 bridges the gap in expectations between employers and employees. It examines how new hybrid ways of working have been used to enable growth out of the plague facing the plague. Growth, both in the organizational sense as employers redefine the future of work within their organizations, and on a personal level as employees redefine the priorities of different parts of their lives – inside and outside of work – and how they want to grow personally.

Download the full report Here.


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