An employee of U.S. food delivery company DoorDash made headlines and sparked debate last December after posting an anonymous message raging against the company for reinstating its WeDash program.
Company policy – implemented in 2013 but suspended since 2020 due to the pandemic – requires executives and DoorDash’s C suite to make at least one food delivery, help in the kitchen or customer service once. per month.
This would allow everyone in the company, from its software engineers to its CEO, to experience the impact of its services. Ultimately, this helps their team to better design products and services for customers.
Should food delivery companies in Singapore emulate this model as well?
Opinions were divided on WeDash
One of the reasons DoorDash reinstated its WeDash policy is its dominance in the food delivery space in the United States. According to Bloomberg Second Measure, it accounted for 57% of food deliveries to the United States as of November 2021.
While some employees were unhappy with the WeDash model and threatened to leave, others saw value in it.
Among the 2,000 comments under the anonymous post on Blind, some felt it would give them a better understanding in performing their role.
Interestingly, DoorDash users also took to social media to express their support for the initiative. Most believed the move would help improve the user experience for riders, restaurants, and users.
A common word that keeps coming up in this debate? Empathy.
Currently, efforts to better protect the rights of workers in the odd-job economy are largely focused on government action.
Last July, China demanded that food delivery drivers be paid above the minimum wage, be allowed to unionize and have access to social security. It also prohibited platforms from placing “unreasonable demands” based on algorithms on its drivers.
Separately, the European Union has also proposed requirements for concert economy platforms to provide its workers with employment rights such as minimum wage and sick pay in December 2021.
In Singapore, food delivery drivers are not sufficiently protected
Singapore is no stranger to the debate on improving protection for workers in the odd-job economy.
At last year’s National Day rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong singled out food delivery drivers, describing them as “for all intents and purposes just like employees,” but they lack benefits .
Despite the growing number of Singaporeans joining the odd-job economy – the self-employed made up 14.7% of Singapore’s workforce in 2020, up from 13.5% in 2019 – they are not eligible for contributions to the Central Provident Fund (CPF).
Being classified as self-employed, they do not have an employment contract with food delivery providers and are therefore excluded from protections under the Employment Act. They also do not enjoy union protections, Prime Minister Lee said.
While not being formal employees gives them additional freedom to choose when they want to work, delivery drivers are often penalized for failing to meet certain quotas.
They are also not required to receive health benefits. However, a quick search of the Grab, foodpanda, and Deliveroo websites found that they provide insurance coverage for drivers when they are actively delivering.
Executives should walk the field to better empathize
Grab CEO Anthony Tan has openly shared his experiences in the field – from working in a kitchen to observing a veteran company delivery driver.
At the Wall Street Journal CEO Council summit last September, Grab CEO Anthony Tan said his experience as a kitchen runner made him realize that some kitchen workers struggle to manage the right ones. order with instructions in English.
This is why he came up with the idea of automatically translating purchase orders when they are printed.
With first-hand experience in the field, employees can better understand the impact of their work on others. By helping, whether from a trader’s or a delivery driver’s perspective, nuances that might otherwise have been missed can be quickly identified and addressed.
While asking for feedback can help, empathizing with having first-hand experience can inspire employees to be more passionate about their jobs and come up with improved products.
From a consumer perspective, a business that cares about its frontline employees is also a positive. In 2020, intelligence firm Morning Consult found that 90% of consumers said it was important for businesses to treat their employees well.
For now, changes may be underway for delivery driver benefits, as the Singapore government announced the formation of a Platform Workers Advisory Committee in September 2021.
But beyond government policy, perhaps food delivery companies in Singapore should take inspiration from DoorDash to better protect its gig employees who are arguably the backbone of their business.
Although it can be difficult to implement from the start, company policies requiring its executives and senior managers to lead the way would better improve their company’s services for its customers, delivery drivers and traders. .
Featured Image Credit: AirAsia food / GrabFood / foodpanda / Retail News Asia
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