Throughout the pandemic, what measures did you take to stabilize your work environment and ensure business resiliency and continuity?

Right from the onset of the global pandemic, we were working closely with our leadership, tech, and IT team to ensure we constantly support our employees. Our leadership and IT team were jointly working to make all our people feel safe and cared for, so that they could peacefully and harmoniously work from home.

Since physical, face-to-face meetings halted, we started having virtual morning meetings to communicate with everyone, every day, to bring the whole team feel connected and closer together even with the physical distance. In these meetings, leaders showed their empathetic side. The conversations were more than ‘strictly business,’ giving a chance to everyone to open up and talk freely amid social isolation. These extenuating circumstances became our perfect opportunity to improve internal employee collaboration and trust, and introduce a fully remote onboarding program to welcome new employees.

Even on our customer service side, we ensured that we extend the same empathy. Since food and grocery delivery is what we do, we made it a point to make the delivery timelines faster and on time. We started making grocery deliveries within 20 minutes. Our team also worked round the clock relentlessly to ensure that we had the inventory to be delivered within 20 minutes.

How has the transition from office to remote work been, from your perspective, and how did your partners and customers adapt to the new normal?

We supported our vendors and partners in quickly jumping on the digital bandwagon and sustaining their businesses. As the pandemic suspended the dine-in options, many of our partners started adding more options to their existing online menu, especially bringing in more healthy food options. With the convenience we brought to them on a day-to-day basis, our vendors and customers could simplify grocery shopping; no one had to spend hours a week in a supermarket. The pandemic has allowed everyone to bring more balance into our lives and focus on spending quality time with family. We were merely helping everyone in enabling it.

How does Talabat tie into your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) strategy, and were there any difficulties implementing such programs in your organization?

DE&I has always been at the forefront of our company’s internal work culture, even before the pandemic hit. Three years ago, Talabat repositioned itself as a business, brand, and workplace. We introduced new company values, and at its core was how we can be much more inclusive, focused, and effective in what we do while also learning from our mistakes. If you don’t have an equitable and inclusive environment, it becomes tough to create something new. That’s when we rethought our strategy and vision for DE&I company-wide to make our workplace more engaging and all-embracing.

To keep our employees' mental health in check during the pandemic, we introduced Headspace, an app with meditation and mental health tips, and ICAS, an online wellness platform where our employees can connect with counselors 24/7. The entire initiative was done to generate more awareness and embrace the fact that every one in three people today suffer from some imbalance. The questions that need to be understood are, what are their triggers? What are their symptoms? What does a particular feeling mean? And how can you deal with that? We conduct webinars to discuss such topics, followed by one-minute breathing exercises for people to reduce anxiety.

“The pandemic has allowed everyone to bring more balance into our lives and focus on spending quality time with family. We were merely helping everyone in enabling it.”

We Constantly Encourage our people to frequently talk about their mental wellbeing with their teams if they are not feeling alright. Along with mental health, we also help our employees to secure their financial health. We talk to our employees about their career growth plans. Before the pandemic, our talent development team would travel across the country to deliver leadership programs, but now they are done fully remote via online collaboration tools like Zoom.

Are there any derivatives from the DE&I programs that translate to higher success measures or profitability from an enterprise standpoint?

Other than DE&I programs, our people strategy programs create unforgettable experiences for our employees in their entire lifecycle with us. We generate an employee net promoter score (eNPS) every quarter after an engagement survey with our employees. Before the pandemic, we had  an engagement  rating of 25, which was good. However, in the engagement survey in April 2020, our engagement score doubled, which was incredible, because it showed that our business kept striving forward and our employees had faith in us even amid a global crisis. We have been able to maintain a high rating since then based on our focus and action plans from the surveys.

There was a lot of pressure on our teams to perform because we are an online delivery company, and we were needed more than ever by our customers and partners to receive food safely at home during the outbreak of the coronavirus.

In 2022, with the war for talent and the great resignation, we need to focus on retaining our talent - so we have again used our agile mindsets and shifted gears by redesigning how we work through our initiative called Flexibili-t. We encourage a hybrid workplace where our employees come to the office only twice or thrice a week, only so that they can meet their colleagues face to face and feel connected to their teams and  organization. Additionally we're also working closely with our leadership team and conducting workshops to embed a mindset of workplace flexibility, performance is measured by deliverables not how long or where we work. At the end of the day, we don’t want our employees to suffer from lack of purpose, engagement or excessive work stress and burnout, which are often the main reasons for attrition.

We always have to remember that people are not only driven by compensation; they also want purpose, human leaders, and balance that is the biggest step in framing any successful employee retention strategy.