Flexibility at PepsiCo: Tailoring work to the individual
Company name = PepsiCo ANZ
Industry = FMCG
No. of employees = 1,600
Well before the world had even heard of COVID-19, PepsiCo was already thinking about the future of work. Meeting the future needs of their consumers, customers, employees, and communities, would require big changes to how, where and when they worked. The biggest shift they foresaw would be that the office would no longer be the default work environment. When the pandemic arrived, it acted as an accelerant to implement many of these changes – overnight.
Like most organisations, there were challenges as the pandemic dragged on and people were kept away from the office and each other. Being a company with a social culture whose mission is to ‘create more smiles with every sip and every bite, their people missed the social benefits of being in the office. The key to overcoming this was in their approach to flexible working.
PepsiCo’s philosophy on flexible work recognised that work-life quality means different things to different people and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach was never going to suit. This led them to the idea that working arrangements really needed to be tailored to the individual and that would ensure they had the best people doing their best work every day.
“Our commitment to fostering a culture of flexible working for all ensures we have the best people doing their best work every day.”– Danny Celoni, CEO of PepsiCo ANZ
Consequently, they reviewed their flexible work policy and removed several barriers. Launching in May last year their new policy was built around three core pillars:
- Flextime – adjust the daily start/finish time to help employees attend to personal commitments (no core hours or start/finish time). Staff elect when they choose to start/finish their workday.
- Flexplace – work from an alternate location i.e., home, client site, or another PepsiCo site.
- Flexday – employees choose the days that they want to work from home or be in the office.
The organisation then went further and underpinned the refreshed policy with new flex principles:
- Flexibility – enabling our employees to deliver great results
- Employees can be flexible so they can thrive personally and professionally
- An ongoing dialogue with employees and their managers is key to an optimal flexibility plan
- A flexibility plan is unique to an employee’s life, their role and business needs
- Flexibility can be consistent or vary week to week
- Flexibility is not a comprise of performance – it’s an enabler.
Through the Flexibility Principles, PepsiCo has developed internal campaigns to help with encouraging flexible conversation across the organisation. Earlier this year PepsiCo launched a ‘Max your Flex – Work It Your Way’ campaign to help educate team members that flexibility is what they make it. Through storytelling and employees sharing their flexibility stories they are helping demonstrate what flexibility can look like and how team members can make it work for themselves and the organisation.
Implementing the change
Like most organisational change, implementing flexible work is particularly dependent on the leaders. However, when leaders and managers don’t utilise flexibility, often people won’t feel welcome to do so themselves. Leadership up-take and role-modelling is therefore critical to driving flexibility and ultimately the company’s future of work culture.
Knowing that their leaders would be playing this significant role in the implementation of flexible work, PepsiCo used the policy refresh as an opportunity to educate their leaders around the return to office and flexibility. Managers were educated, trained and encouraged in how to have conversations with their team members on what their return to office plan would look like.
“Having a family of 5, working on a global project spanning across 4 distinct time zones and being an active healthy person, I wouldn’t cope without flexing – something would have to give. Flextime, Flexday and Flexplace enables me to have it all!” – LIZ DONOHUE GREEN, ANZ Commercial IT Lead
Results: a fundamental shift
The result was a fundamental shift to complete trust in their people and this was in large part due to the leadership mindset. It wasn’t simply a plug-in or something that was added on to a workplace policy.
“When a company’s entire leadership team has a clearly defined, united vision for the flexible workplace they want to create, this permeates to every level of the business,” – ANITA PATRICK, Human Resources Director, PepsiCo, ANZ
Today they’re seeing the realisation of the benefits with their people across the business reaching their full potential. Their latest Organisational Health Survey showed 82% of their people (up 4% from last year) are comfortable with leveraging local flexibility policies to balance their work and personal lives. Flexibility has certainly become a valued benefit for PepsiCo’s people and contributes to managing workloads whilst striking a balance with boundaries to avoid overworking.
They note of course that this didn’t happen overnight – it has been years in the making with a consistent and deliberate approach. Now, they consistently see high people engagement and low attrition. Flexibility is also a key factor in attracting quality talent to their organisation. Most importantly it has translated to strong business results thanks to their high performing people, with category-leading innovation and growth.
Coming back to PepsiCo’s global future of work program, the organisation knows that how work happens will differ depending on the individual’s role, assignments, and preferred ways of working. Leaders and their team members will be empowered to determine what’s best for them and their team. As for the office, it certainly hasn’t lost its relevance: they see it as the space to create, celebrate, connect, and collaborate. As work now happens across multiple places and spaces, their flexible work offering has brought clarity of purpose in how they work and interact. This has helped reinvigorate their social culture to keep everyone connected whilst balancing individual, team, and business needs. Something their people are no doubt smiling about.
“In the IT function, a lot of my work hours are after 5 pm, so I will stagger my work time to start later. Tonight, for example, I have soccer training with my daughter and then a Zoom call from 7:30 – 9 pm that I will start from the field on our way home. Tomorrow I will then start later in the morning so that I can exercise or enjoy some family time.” – Brian Green, CIO for PepsiCo ANZ
The 2021 FlexReport bridges the gap in expectations between employers and employees. It examines how new hybrid ways of working are being used to enable growth out of the adversity faced through the pandemic. Growth, both in the corporate sense as employers redefine the future of work inside their organisations, and on an individual level as employees reprioritise the different parts of their lives – inside and outside of work – and how they want to grow personally.
Download the full report here.