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Case study: How British American Tobacco Singapore reduced absenteeism by 23%

Rather than focusing on fixed targets, BAT creates a culture where employees are empowered to make conscious choices towards their health, Mausami Arora, Head of HR, British American Tobacco Singapore shares in this interview with Jerene Ang.

Having been established for more than a century, British American Tobacco (BAT) is well-known for taking care of employee welfare. It constantly measures itself against the market and adapts practices to cater to employees through time and demographic-relevant solutions.

Mausami Arora, Head of HR, British American Tobacco Singapore, says: “At BAT Singapore, we are very diverse, with 24 nationalities, a multi-generational workforce and functional breadth. Hence, it becomes imperative to have a holistic approach centred around our employees that has both buy-in and impact."

We take employee feedback very seriously and we continue to push the envelope to make BAT Singapore a great place to work.
The organisation has a spectrum of programmes covering the five key aspects of wellness. This includes workshops to raise awareness on mental wellness and stress management, as well as those focused on savings and retirement planning.

Apart from the mental and financial aspects, on the social front, BAT has an employee-led and run sports and social committee which organises events such as Family Day, Durian Day, Sports Day, Dinner and Dance, and more. For the career aspect, the firm strongly believes in growth from within and invests heavily in employee development across all grades.

Falling largely under the physical area of wellness, BAT launched an Active360 health and wellness programme in January 2019. The programme seeks to appeal to different generations, empower them to take charge of their wellbeing through various preventive initiatives, and encourage a healthy lifestyle among employees.

Explaining the rationale behind this new programme, Arora says: “When we analysed our inpatient and outpatient data, we realised the trend was reflective of national health concerns around hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol. We tend to spend 75% of our waking hours at work and there is a constant blurring between work and life. Hence, at BAT Singapore, we wanted to create a preventive culture of health and wellness.”

After obtaining buy-in from top management and senior stakeholders, the health and wellness programme was rolled out with a wellness party to coincide with the launch of the National Corporate Steps Challenge, Season 4.

An activity plan for the entire year was mapped out, with weekly recurring activities that are relatable, meaningful, impactful, and amplifying.
“Activities include Yoghurt Mondays, Fruity Tuesdays, Salad Wednesdays and De-Stress Thursdays which are intended to continuously engage the employees and raise awareness on healthy eating and mental wellbeing.” In the middle of the year, BAT followed up with a super healthy buffet day where employees were able to sample healthy and delicious dishes during lunch.

“A role model was also appointed to share how she achieved her desired weight and BMI by persevering with healthy eating habits. Overall, the event was very well-received, and we got lots of positive feedback from the employees.”

To measure programme success, BAT monitors the emerging trends across medical bills, absenteeism, health & safety, employee engagement scores, and employee uptake ratios.

We are already seeing some early success, with absenteeism dropping by 23% to date in 2019 versus the same period last year.
Rather than focusing on fixed targets which may end up killing the programme in its infancy, BAT looks to create a culture where employees are empowered to make conscious choices towards their health goals, she concludes.

This case study was published in Human Resources’ September-October 2019 edition of the Singapore magazine.

Photo / provided

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