More SMEs partnering e2i to raise productivity and workers’ wages
30,000 workers working in Food and Beverage (F&B) establishments will benefit from higher wages through the National Trades Union Congress’ (NTUC) e2i’s (Employment and Employability Institute) Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP).
The $100 million IGP, aims to drive productivity improvements in all sectors, and can offer up to 50% funding for businesses with improvement projects, such as purchasing of new equipment, automating processes, re-designing workflows, and sending staff for training. In return, companies share productivity gains with workers in the form of higher wages.
Till date, e2i has worked 400 F&B companies to implement more than 500 productivity projects. The impacted workers will receive an average wage increase of 13%.
e2i has also been partnering industry associations and solution providers to outreach and engage SMEs to push for higher productivity. As at January 2015, more than 70% of over 1,600 IGP projects are from SMEs.
Many SME F&B businesses face similar challenges such as manpower shortage and high operational costs. With support from the IGP, F&B establishments are able to tap on the funding scheme to acquire machinery and equipment to automate processes, re-design their operation workflows and make the work Easier, Smarter and Safer for their workers.
Faced with difficulties in finding labour, SME F&B players need to find ways to increase efficiency and one way is to reduce the number of manual processes of their operations. For example, mobile ordering system can replace food ordering using pen and paper. Another technology is self-service ordering through tablets. Such mobile ordering technology enables orders to be sent directly to the kitchen after keying into the devices. This reduces reliance on manpower as well as shortens the time needed for the orders to reach the kitchen. In the past, workers have to spend time processing the payment of the customers; nowadays there are increasingly more companies who are adopting mobile payment technology. Workers now process customers’ payment using a mobile payment device which eliminates waiting time and time wastage in traveling back and forth from the payment kiosks.
One other productivity impediment in F&B sector is the labourious back-end process of food preparation in the kitchen. e2i works with F&B owners to increase productivity in the kitchen by purchasing and/or upgrading kitchen equipment, instead of relying on manual food preparation methods. For example a vegetable or meat cutting machine or a combi oven can prepare food faster with higher output. Adoption of kitchen equipment helps to cut down food preparation time, wastages, and customers can be served faster. On an average, the IGP partners in the F&B sector have achieved higher output by at least 15 - 20%.
e2i’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Gilbert Tan, and NTUC’s Assistant Secretary-General, Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, visited the A-One Claypot House outlet at Kallang Wave Mall today. The F&B chain has tapped on the IGP to implement several productivity projects; such as introducing auto-adjustable table bases and an inventory management system. Workers no longer need to waste time stabilising tables by placing cardboards at the base of the table so as to ensure that hot food on the claypots do not spill over. The company is also now able to better manage their inventory count by doing a simple tally of customer orders versus actual stock. The company has seen a rise in their productivity which in turn results in higher business growth. These productivity gains are then shared with the workers in the form of wage increments.
Mr Gilbert Tan said, “In a tight labour market, F&B businesses will need to think of creative ways to provide optimal services to customers. Employers should embrace a “productivity mindset” and be receptive to change and innovation. Operations need to be efficient, and workers need to be trained to deliver value. e2i will continue to support more F&B business owners, especially SMEs, to assist them to tap on technology and automating processes to improve business operations, be better prepared to deal with business challenges, and to remain profitable.”