Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day: Messages to employees from 10 leaders

Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day: Messages to employees from 10 leaders


Here's how to make sure your people truly feel valued and appreciated for their hard work.

The employer-employee relationship has changed.

Gone are the days when managers were sitting in a high-back chair inside a private office, making all the decisions and giving orders to their ‘subordinates’.

Managers, and even C-suite management, today are more like partners, mentors, as well as counsellors to help their people thrive and be their best selves both at work and in their personal lives.

In this evolving relationship, the key to employee engagement is to let your people know their voices are listened to, and their contributions are valued and appreciated.

On this occasion of Employee Appreciation Day, HRO's Tracy Chan speaks to 10 leaders to hear what they want to say to their employees, and their ways to truly appreciate their people.

Zoe Lau, General Manager and Group Head of People & Sustainability Division, The Bank of East Asia, Limited

zoe lau bea

At BEA, we prioritise employee engagement and wellbeing, which in turn fosters innovation and drives business performance and service excellence. Through our consistent efforts to connect and communicate with our team, 86% of our staff feel engaged despite social distancing measures, as reflected in our annual Bankwide Employee Survey.

Indeed, effective communication, which is necessary for teamwork, is the area that recorded the greatest improvement, a 10% increase compared to last year’s survey. We are also heartened to learn that 85% of our staff believe that their division or branch can have a clear impact on the Group’s ESG performance. It is this mindset and collaborative culture that allows us to continuously improve and move forward meaningfully in our transformation and sustainability journey. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank all our colleagues for their dedication and their hard work to achieve our shared goals and vision.

As a people-oriented company, BEA believes in investing in the employee experience and the importance of work-life balance. This year, we doubled wellbeing leave, from 2 hours to 4 hours per month, and resumed our popular recreational activities for our staff and their family members to enjoy.

To encourage and facilitate our staff to lead a healthy lifestyle, we provide healthy lunch options at our two staff canteens and we operate a staff gym and rooftop garden. Our colleagues’ growth and development is also a key focus area, which we support through ongoing training, career advancement opportunities and our internal mobility strategy. As we aim to become more agile, responsive and future-ready to serve our customers’ evolving needs, we are increasingly investing in data, both in terms of analytics and tools for the Bank and in terms of literacy and competency of our staff. By growing together, we move the business forward as one.

Vera Chin, CEO, Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF)

vera chin childrens cancer foundation 1

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for your unwavering dedication and commitment towards the CCF’s mission and goals in walking along and helping the children with cancer and their stressed parents and siblings.

Families told us they were feeling overwhelmed, lonely, anxious and helpless, in addition to the hardships of everyday life. Your hard work and contributions have been instrumental in their cancer-fighting journey.

Over the past 33 years, you’ve gone above and beyond for 6,000 struggling families. You are the heart and soul of CCF. You and your family should be proud of yourself.

My teams are the magicians, empowering the patients’ families to cope with the most stressful challenges in life, who deserve nothing less than be seen, heard, and understood in their workplace.

My priority is to foster an environment of trust, respect and collaboration by enabling open, authentic two-way communication through staff surveys, retreats, and 1-day-per-week in-person visits at every office, where I listen actively with a bias for action; and be responsive to everyone’s questions and concerns.

Serving families to fight the toughest battles in life, our colleagues face intense occupational stress. To safeguard their wellbeing, we ensure mental and wellness resources accessible for their day-to-day life and cope with the stressors their work nature brings.

Isabel Lam, Chief People and Corporate Management Officer, AXA Hong Kong and Macau

isabel lam axa hong kong and macau

On this special day, I just want to let our employees know that, at AXA, they are our invaluable assets. It’s never been easy to protect our leadership position in the insurance arena. Our employees have always been demonstrating incredible resilience and adaptability in overcoming numerous hurdles, such as COVID pandemic and talent shortage, and staying ready for emerging challenges ahead. I am very proud of them and sincerely appreciate them for their dedication and all the excellent things they have been doing for our company.

Our employees’ wellness is close to our hearts. We understand that creating an environment conducive to workplace happiness is one of the key building blocks of mental wellbeing for our employees.

Every year we organise various company-wide activities to thank our employees. Most recently, we launched HUMA, a mobile app designed for our employees to share appreciations with each other, not only from managers to their team members but also between cross-team co-workers. On this innovative platform, our employees can also award HUMA points to anyone they work with, and those who gain HUMA points can redeem rewards. Our employees welcome and love this creative initiative very much!

Kazuhiro Ozawa, President & CEO, Canon Hongkong Company Limited

kazuhiro ozawa canon hongkong

Employees are the foundation of our sustainable business and values. We strive to ensure that our teams receive fair treatment and work in a comfortable environment. We promote the cultivation and development of talents by providing diverse learning and promotion opportunities for their career and professional development. In the meantime, we organise a wide range of wellness and staff-relations activities that encourage work-life balance and support our employees in maintaining a good balance of mental and physical health at work. By investing in the health and development of our team members, we anticipate them thriving and growing alongside our company.

We value the opinions of our employees by encouraging open communication that brings positive impacts. We provide two-way communication channels to collect feedback, such as employee satisfaction surveys, focus group meetings, reporting hotlines, CEO luncheons, etc. The consolidated feedback will then be communicated to related parties for addressing the feedback with appropriate approaches or actions for adjustment.

“Delighting You Always” is one of our corporate mottos. To delight and appreciate our employees, we established the “President Awards", "Long Service Awards", "6S Awards", "Devoted Volunteer Awards" and so on to recognise their remarkable contribution to the success of the organisation. What’s more, the intranet tools “ifeedback” and “ithanks” are also available to share thoughts and gratitude towards colleagues’ good work as well.

Even though the world has undergone economic hardship during the pandemic in the previous few years, our company continues to sustain a stable business with the joint efforts of every team member. In this regard, we extend our appreciation to our colleagues for continued performance bonuses and salary adjustments as a token of reward.

Pauline Kwan, Regional Head of Human Resources Asia Pacific, Cigna International Markets

pauline kwan cigna

Our people are our biggest asset. As a healthcare company, a key priority is to help our employees, as well as those we serve, improve their health, well-being and peace of mind. We understand the well-being of our employees will directly benefit the business growth of our company. We would like to thank our employees for their trust and commitment to Cigna, and for always going the extra mile. We also want to thank their families for supporting their dedication at work. Cigna will continue to empower our people and provide them with a flexible and healthy work environment.

We value our employees highly, and strongly believe that taking care of their health and wellbeing is one of the most effective ways of expressing our appreciation and making them feel valued. Our senior leaders recently participated in our 5% Pledge campaign, devoting 5% of their work hours to listen, and to craft and implement tangible changes to improve mental health in the workplace. Cigna also has an online recognition platform called Cigna Standout, where employees can express their appreciation and celebrate important life moments such as birthdays and work anniversary with colleagues.

Paul Hadida - General Manager APAC, SevenRooms

paul hadida sevenrooms

Quite simply, thank you. Our employees are the single most important part of our business and we’re proud to work alongside them. From our Founders to our newest hire and from Singapore to San Francisco, every 7Roomie plays an essential role in the SevenRooms journey. Our priority is to maintain our people-first culture and make room for all; where every employee feels supported, empowered and appreciated. It’s been an incredibly challenging period for the global workforce, but in spite of that, and whatever the future holds, we’re proud to come to work with every one of our employees - past, present and future.

The pandemic has been a period of reflection, and one of the biggest takeaways has been the importance of time. Our employees’ time is meaningful to them, so it’s meaningful to us. Every 7Roomie has a life away from SevenRooms - whether that’s children, travel or something else entirely. To showcase our commitment to them, and to thank them for their commitment to us, every new hire spends their first two weeks of employment on paid leave. All employees are also required to schedule a minimum of five consecutive days of paid leave during each half of the year. From their first day to their final day, we want to put everything on the table and create an environment where they feel valued and appreciated.

Varun Sheth, Co founder and CEO,

varun sheth

Ketto started as a dream to create a world where people could help each other with just a click of a button. Since our launch in 2012, we’ve changed more lives than we can count. Our journey has been exciting and fulfilling, and we've learned a lot along the way. I am proud and inspired by the way our company has grown over the years. With flexibility, resilience, courage – and a caring heart. Today, we aim higher and dream bigger but if we continue to work together, I’ve no doubt we will make it.

Employee engagement is an evolving issue, but we try to remember that people are motivated by different things. Some team members may be motivated by the cause, while others may be motivated by a sense of accomplishment or the opportunity to learn and grow.

We take the time to acknowledge our employees' accomplishments and let them know how much we appreciate their contributions but just as importantly, we ensure employees feel ‘seen’, that they receive holistic feedback and that we address growth opportunities regularly.

The best way to increase employee engagement is to identify what motivates each individual employee and then work to create an environment where they can be successful.

Tanisha Kochhar, Head of People & Culture, Hugosave

tanisha kochhar hugosave 1

Human connection is at the heart of all that we do at Hugosave and our exponential growth is made possible because our team members have a founders mindset, where every task has a purpose and every aspect of the business is their business.

A big thank you to all #HugoHeroes for taking the collective responsibility to create imprints on decisions made and drive substantial change as we elevate the lives of Singaporeans through Wealthcare® and move towards a brighter future. Let us continue to foster a compassionate and safe working environment where every voice is heard, and every aspiration fulfilled.

We place a huge emphasis on employees’ well-being and promote a culture that is aligned with our values as a collective. We actively engage our employees through various initiatives including our daily morning catch-ups where everyone, regardless of function or seniority, gathers for open conversations and feedback to improve our product. Through our monthly social gatherings, we also celebrate every employee’s achievements and Hugoversaries.

Every employee is accorded an annual wellness budget which they can use for any activities or items that promote self-care. An options programme is extended to all employees as we believe in providing each team member a personal stake in the success of the company.

Jeantze Leong, Fulfillment Assistant Manager, J&T Express Singapore

jeantze leong jt express sg

Let’s continue to be resilient and go the extra mile as we work towards our shared vision and mission. The collective team spirit I experience with you all here at J&T Express has made it so fulfilling for me to come into work everyday. I am deeply grateful for the consistent contributions put together by everyone of us across departments, exemplifying J&T Express’ core values of Běn Fèn, sharing, and responsibility. Your hard work and efforts are what makes us today. May we continue to grow strong together!

At J&T Express, we believe that employees are our greatest asset. Personal values and principles are key in what we do and a good way to acknowledge this is through employee evaluations. That also allows me to identify the strengths and weaknesses of my employees, leading to tailored guidance and training which will ensure their professional growth and ability to latch on opportunities. To recognise the hard work of our employees, J&T Express has implemented a reward system for staff who can deliver service excellence. In our work environment, we practice celebrating diversities, bridge generation, gender, social gaps and embrace cultural traditions through team bonding exercises.

Kerry Rooks, Chief People Officer, HKEX Group

kerry rooks hkex group

HKEX as a purpose-led organisation, seeks to connect, promote and progress our markets and the communities they support for the prosperity of all. Our colleagues are a major part of our vision and we are fully committed to ensuring that every one of them plays a valued role in our future. We want each colleague to be inspired, to fulfill their potential and to have an enjoyable and rewarding career with us at HKEX. Today, we would like to thank our colleagues and their families for all that they do for our business, our markets and our communities.

HKEX is committed to creating a positive and inspiring environment for all our colleagues to work in. We offer competitive remuneration, excellent career journeys, tailored learning and a host of forums to share, explore and collaborate . Our dedicated junior employee network, HKEX HIVE, for colleagues from across the business helps to influence our culture and business from the bottom up; our D&I Networks that promote diversity and inclusivity within our company; and our dedicated volunteering programme encourages teamwork and fosters a sense of pride in the communities we support: these are three ways that we let colleagues know how much we care them.

Photos / Provided

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