Leading financial services group, DBS has rolled out a holistic series of programmes aimed at addressing the physical, emotional, mental and psychological wellbeing of its 12,000 strong workforce in Singapore amid COVID-19.

The programmes’ four main themes involve helping employees with the following:

1. Adopt new behaviours and ways of working

With teams operating virtually out of different sites, this track aims to establish new norms to ensure a respectful and productive digital work environment. DBS has rolled out advice on smoothening the transition to new work arrangements, such as ways to organise work corners at home and suggestions on establishing new work routines. Managers have also received guidance on how to better engage their teams remotely, including on building team morale as well as trust and empathy from behind the screen.

2. Build social connections despite new work arrangements

To overcome the lack of physical meetups or face-to-face conversations, DBS has encouraged employees to leverage the bank’s videoconferencing platforms to stay connected socially, such as organising virtual team meals and group fitness exercises. “Casual Hangouts” sessions have also been organised to bring employees with common interests (such as having a love for animals, good food and doing good) together. Managers are encouraged to introduce new team habits and celebrate positive milestones.

3. Care for their personal wellbeing, and that of colleagues

This track reminds employees to take charge of their personal health, and to nurture a culture of mutual care and concern within the organisation. DBS has been distributing care packages comprising surgical masks, hand sanitisers, a thermometer and Vitamin C supplements to all employees. Webinars on health and wellbeing in the context of a COVID-19 world have also been organised regularly. Confidential counselling, which has always been available to employees, continue to be available during this period.

4. Use current circumstances as a positive force to develop innovative solutions

This track aims to encourage employees to contribute to the community. DBS has roped in its employees to distribute complimentary care packages, healthy snacks, lunch bentos, coffee and gelato to healthcare professionals. Through its S$10.5mn ‘DBS Stronger Together Fund’, the bank is empowering employees to donate towards meals for the elderly, lower-income households, and migrant workers in Singapore. DBS is further amplifying employee contributions by matching every employee meal pledge made.


Lee Yan Hong, Head of Group Human Resources, DBS, shared that while employees are doing their best to adapt to new work norms as a result of COVID-19, some may experience anxiety juggling competing demands for attention.

“Managing these changes to our daily routines may not come naturally to everyone. The lack of social interaction at the workplace coupled with the wider uncertainty over how the pandemic situation might change the economy and our social norms add to the mental and emotional stress that employees might experience.”

“Our aim is to keep everyone connected and engaged, to encourage mutual care, and to inspire our employees to reimagine and create opportunities for growth after Covid-19, rather than be constrained by today’s circumstances.”

Lee added that the bank has been rolling out various initiatives to care for employees ever since the COVID-19 situation began unfolding in early February 2020.

Ground-up initiatives have been springing up, with employees tapping on the bank’s video conferencing platforms to come up with new team rituals to keep morale high.

For instance, one department holds weekly Fast Food Fridays with everyone sharing their lunch and catching up virtually, while others hold virtual book clubs to connect outside of work conversations. Another team has also developed a mobile game application to remind each other of appropriate social behaviours during Covid-19.

Further initiatives in the pipeline

Employees can look forward to more engagement activities as part of the TOGETHER movement in the coming weeks, including programmes around innovation, career development, wellness and mental health.

Lee emphasised that mental health is just as important as physical health, especially during this period. “The isolation economy is a reality that all of us must contend with for the foreseeable future, until we have certainty on when the pandemic could pass.

“Until then, DBS is committed to devoting sufficient resources and energy into ensuring that the mental health needs of our employees are adequately addressed.”

From next month onwards, employees will be given free access to a mindfulness application tailored to workplace mental wellness. DBS will also launch a wellbeing challenge between mid-May to mid-June to encourage all employees to take charge of their own physical and mental health.

DBS will also nudge employees to make the most of today’s new work arrangements by ingraining digital learning behaviours during this period. The bank is running its inaugural ‘LearnShareTeach TOGETHER’ Virtual Festival all of this week to encourage its employees in Singapore to pick up new skills, and to connect with colleagues through the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

The bank will also be looking to sustain the habit of digital learning beyond the festival with fortnightly learning ‘playlists’. These are curated selections of bite-sized learning modules, videos, and virtual classes on topics such as blockchain, digital disruption and the science of decision-making. These playlists will be put together from its collection of over 10,000 articles on its digital Learning Hub.

Photo / DBS