Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
Creating opportunities for the team to connect: An M1 case study

Creating opportunities for the team to connect: An M1 case study

Leaders are encouraged to explore more team activities to foster and build team- and cross-departmental relationships, while employees are also encouraged to sign up for in-house volunteer activities as a way to give back to the community.

When planning an effective wellbeing strategy, M1 looks at wellbeing in a holistic manner – spanning the physical, mental, social & financial health of its employees, Gerald Lau, Deputy Director, Human Resource, M1 (pictured above) tells Arina Sofiah.

As he points out, digital change and the pandemic have disrupted the telco industry in recent years, making it a difficult time for many. Importantly, the pandemic posed a direct threat to the physical safety of the company's frontline teams in retail stores, and engineers maintaining the networks.

Recognising this, physical safety has been M1's highest priority throughout the pandemic, and the group ensured this through proper implementation of all safe management measures for all employees, Lau shares.

Beyond that, Lau and his team continue to explore hybrid working models and flexible work arrangements to help employees achieve better work-life harmony for higher engagement and productivity.

With that in mind, M1 has, in recent times, implemented a few initiiatives to support the wellness and wellbeing of its employees. For one, the company partnered with Enterprise Singapore to introduce the Wellness Series webinars to improve the mental and physical health of all its employees.

Secondly, it is also working with employee assistance programme provider Workplace Options to provide a range of professional services and consultation sessions to employees across the full wellness spectrum.

"With this, our employees are able to reach out and receive emotional or psychological support or second opinions on medical, financial, career issues from professionals," Lau elaborates.

As part of the Keppel Group, M1 also collaborates on a broader health and wellbeing strategy, which includes thematic engagements each month and frequent employee surveys to measure and monitor the health of those in the organisation.

In recent years, the group has continued to receive positive feedback from its employees on its efforts, shares Lau — in 2022, it was the only telco to be named as one of Singapore’s Best Employers by The Straits Times for the third year in a row, based on a survey conducted amongst its employees.

Lau voices his thoughts: "In partnership with HR, we believe that our people managers play a significant role in determining the overall employee experience, and we continue to tap on their leadership to ensure the overall wellness of every individual of the company."

Pandemic-brought struggles

As Lau admits, perhaps the biggest hurdle through this journey was not being able to physically gather and socialise with the company's teams and partners. The pandemic has greatly impacted the connective social fabric through which relationships are built. This has been a tough time for everyone across multiple industries, and M1 was no exception.

However, with Singapore easing its safe management measures, M1 has gradually opened up opportunities for social engagement within its teams and rebuilding these crucial relationships. For instance, the telco group recently organised its first face-to-face town hall session and celebrated its 25th anniversary together as a group.

It also opened up its on-premise fully-equipped gym and organised fitness challenges in hopes that this will bring back an element of physical wellness and fun, Lau adds. To take things further, the firm is encouraging its leaders to explore more team activities to foster and build team- and cross-departmental relationships, while employees are also encouraged to sign up for volunteer activities organised by its CSR team as a way to give back to the community.

"Creating opportunities for our team to connect (while still remaining vigilant) is a key goal for the next several quarters," Lau says.

Sharing more, one of the main paradigm-shifts Lau has seen so far is the misconception that wellness is owned by HR, and mainly about company-organised activities or better perks and benefits.

"On the contrary, there is now an increasing realisation that effective people management plays a much more significant role in the employee wellness proposition."

Managers who can effectively establish psychological safety and trust within their teams are far more likely to be able to create a healthy team culture, and respectful workplace, and inspire their teams towards purposeful and fulfilling work.

Moving forward, "we can expect to see a continued emphasis on work flexibility, as it becomes the norm for most organisations", the leader says.

Through the journey of finding each company’s unique steady state, it is important for HR teams to facilitate open dialogue, coach stakeholders towards a growth mindset, and help businesses adapt accordingly.

Further, Lau also expects an increased emphasis on effective people leadership skills, with a focus on generating psychological safety and trust with teams locally and remotely. Correspondingly, the HR function will have to play a more consultative role as trusted business partners to coach people managers on how to build effective and motivated teams with wellness at the forefront.

Image / Provided

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