How this biopharmaceutical company continues being a Top Employer and now, a Great Place to Work

By placing staffs’ interest first and making them feel valued, the Takeda Singapore local team has created a close-knit environment with opportunities to learn

The Takeda Singapore Local Team at their kick-off meeting themed 'Turbocharged'. PHOTO: TAKEDA SINGAPORE LOCAL TEAM

Enjoying a coffee break has taken on a whole new meaning at the Takeda Singapore local team office. 

Once every fortnight, the biopharmaceutical company’s senior management organises coffee sessions with staff to update them about upcoming plans and business directions. 

“This is one of the company’s regular touchpoints and ways to intensify team engagement and assure everyone they’re taken care of – it’s part of our commitment to discovering and delivering life-transforming initiatives for our staff,” says Ms Peony Wong, head of human resources (HR) for VMAPS (Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore) at the Takeda Singapore local team. It is part of Takeda (Asia Pacific) Pte Ltd and has been operational since 2009. 

And the company’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. 

Ms Joy Tan, senior medical manager (GI/rare disease/neuroscience), appreciates how the regular coffee sessions allow her to have casual and open communication with her peers while also celebrating individual wins. “It’s a good platform to share and learn from the success of others,” she adds. 

This is just one of the many employee-centric initiatives that the Takeda Singapore local team has in place, so it’s no surprise that the company has been certified as a Top Employer by HR consultancy  Top Employers Institute for six years running. 

For 2022/2023, the Great Place to Work Institute also recognises the Takeda Singapore local team for the first time as a Great Place to Work.

The HR consultancy ranks companies worldwide, in terms of productivity, customer service, retention, and overall employee pride, and certifies them. The certification is based on The Great Place to Work Trust Model™, a data-based model for quantifying employee experience. 

Internal events organised by the company, such as celebrating World Immunization Week, help to create a close-knit working environment. PHOTO: TAKEDA SINGAPORE LOCAL TEAM

Secrets to success 

According to Mr Igor Gomes, cluster head for VMAPS, these certifications are a testament to the company’s effort in valuing employees, recognising individual talent and having a long-term pipeline to assure employees that their jobs are safe and secure even in a bear market. 

This was a major pull-factor for Mr Kelvin Tan when he was deciding on taking up his current job as head of vaccines franchise for Singapore more than a year ago.

“Takeda's product pipeline across different therapeutic areas sparked my interest in joining the company,” he recalls. “Today, its continued efforts in looking after employees’ health and well-being, coupled with the ongoing enhancements in employee benefits has made working at Takeda extra special.” 

His colleague, Ms Tan, also likes how there are opportunities for staff to try different cross-functional roles to expand their competencies and experience. Although she has been with the company for 15 months, she has been given the opportunity for a lateral move from franchise manager to senior medical manager.

Besides the local team, Takeda Singapore is also made up of a Growth & Emerging Markets business unit, APAC regional hubs, the Takeda Development Centre Asia site, as well as a manufacturing plant in Woodlands.

A game-changing way to manage talent

With a growing workforce as well as a work environment that has been disrupted by the pandemic, the Takeda Singapore local team has had to align itself with a post-Covid-19 corporate world where staff now defines an ideal workplace and career differently. 

First was shifting to a hybrid working model with flexible working hours. Employees only need to clock in three days a week in the office. “We trust our employees with managing their own time. We focus on their deliverables instead,” says Mr Gomes.

For Grace Khoo, head of specialty franchise, and who has been with the company for nine years, transitioning to a flexible working model has made her feel empowered to manage her own time and deliver her best. “The senior leaders also ensured we received adequate support and allowed us time to adapt to the new normal during the transition,” she adds. 

Team-building lunches, chat groups, and peer mentoring are some of the many activities the company organises to improve employee engagement. PHOTO: TAKEDA SINGAPORE LOCAL TEAM

The company has also identified the four pillars of well-being for its staff – emotional, physical, social, and financial. By improving these areas, the Takeda Singapore local team hopes to create a brighter future for its people.

The words “engagement” and “interaction” also pop up often in the company’s HR playbook nowadays. According to Ms Wong, besides the fortnightly coffee sessions, the company has launched other regular employee engagement activities. 

“These include team-building lunches, chat groups, weekly one-on-one sessions between managers and employees, and peer mentoring,” she says. Another fun initiative: the different teams keep each other updated on their job scope through interactive games and quizzes.

Mr Gomes says that by creating a close-knit environment, the company hopes to offer its employees more opportunities to learn cross-functionally, increase the speed of information flow between teams, and work towards a flatter organisational structure. 

Employees have a say in the business direction, get to decide on the engagement activities that are run throughout the year, as well as give feedback on company policies. “This reduces bureaucracy and cultivates a ‘speak up’ culture that encourages inclusion and equity at work,” adds Ms Wong. 

Diversity is also a cornerstone of the Takeda Singapore local team’s hiring policies. Currently, two out of every three senior positions are filled by women. Ms Wong says: “We promote our employees based on merit and mandate gender equality in senior positions.”

Ms Khoo, who has one young child, adds: “People influence the culture of an organisation. It is great that everyone is aligned in our goals, priorities, and responsibilities to ensure the overall success of the organisation.”

And in this case, it is to make sure the Takeda Singapore local team stays as a Great Place to Work for more years to come.  

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