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How Our Gigs Program Created Growth Opportunities for Employees

Courtney Reun
Employer Brand Manager
Jeremie Smith
Employee Communications Manager

In March 2020, the world was thrust into the unknown. COVID-19 began to rapidly spread, creating a lot of change and concern for everyone, businesses included.

Amid all of the uncertainty, Dunkin’ Brands’ leadership made a commitment early on in the pandemic to put people over profits and worked tirelessly with franchisees to keep restaurants safe and open, and employees working.

This approach continues to fuel our people-first culture.

When you work here, you hear things like “kindness,” “stronger together,” and “collaboration.” These aren’t just words here - they’re actions carried out every day by the people working behind our brands.

This couldn’t have been put on display more than back in March 2020 as the pandemic began to emerge globally.

A Workload Imbalance

Some parts of our business and several employees' roles would change due to travel restrictions and other factors in response to COVID-19, causing some workloads to shift drastically.

Our Chief Human Resources Officer, Stephanie Lilak, recognized that economic downturns don't always affect an entire business equally. This was certainly the case at Dunkin’ Brands.

Even though some employees would see their workloads hindered due to the pandemic, others were overwhelmed by projects that were becoming more urgent in nature given the sudden and dramatic shift in consumer behavior.

Realizing this imbalance of work across different teams, it became clear something needed to be done to continue to support the business and our franchisees while responding to the onslaught of rapidly changing business needs in real-time.

The DBI Gigs Program is Born

The Human Resources team championed an idea to offer employees who now had more time the opportunity to help other teams whose workloads weren't affected and may have actually increased. This would allow eligible employees to apply the applicable skills and experiences they already had while developing new ones and gaining exposure to different aspects of the business through a stretch assignment.

As a result, the Dunkin Brands International (DBI) Gigs program was born.

This program allows managers in need of more resources for projects and tasks to post an internal Gigs opening and tap into our existing talent pool.

"The Gigs Program offers our employees an opportunity to gain exposure to various areas of the business that they may not otherwise have had,” said Wendy Manganaro, the Global Director of Talent Acquisition and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. “It's a great way to build experience and knowledge without having to make a career change."

She adds: "By leveraging in-house talent, our hiring managers have to spend much less time bringing their gig worker up to speed on the business or systems; they can typically hit the ground running."

A win-win for everyone.

Gigs in Action

Shortly after the program was launched, Ozlem Ayman, a Senior Marketing Manager in the United Arab Emirates, found her team with more work than they expected. This was due to how COVID-19 changed consumers' buying behaviors, especially when it came to eCommerce and the online ordering of food and beverages, also known as eGrocery.

“We needed extra support on defining our go-to-market strategy for online grocery across several markets such as Malaysia, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands,” said Ozlem. “The Gig initiative was timely for us!"

To kick things off, Ozlem created a brief that described the type of assistance her team needed, and she worked closely with internal recruiters to help identify people within the company who would be a good match for such an assignment.

Jeff Sauvageau, an Operations Manager, and Keri Christopher, a Field Marketing Manager, found themselves with more available time due to travel restrictions and were eager to pitch in, help out, and gain valuable new skills and experience in the process.

DBI Gigs was a huge success for Ozlem and her marketing initiative. Jeff and Keri were able to work on defining a go-to-market strategy for online grocery across Germany, Netherlands, and Malaysia and they made progress on exploring growth opportunities in Malaysia during their Gig.

The Gig also exceeded the expectations of Jeff and Keri.

"When I first applied, I thought that I would be doing simple analytical research to support our international partners, but I found it to be so much more," Jeff said.

Kerri added: "It was a pleasure collaborating with Ozlem and hearing how she thinks about different data points and parts of a project. She challenged me to hone my ‘storytelling’ skills as we built the final presentation."

Looking Ahead

What started as a temporary program to leverage internal resources, DBI Gigs has become a powerful way for employees to do work that matters, collaborate with other teams and aspects of the business, and stretch their own experience and skills as they strive to grow and drive our brands forward every day.

“Overall the program has been incredibly successful," said Wendy. "We identified what we thought was a short-term need in the business but it has blossomed into an impactful business solution that we anticipate having in place for the foreseeable future."

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