What is healthcare? It is certainly not just a trip to the hospital, given how many of us go to the gym because of the opportunities to network both socially and professionally, one may quip. Instead, healthcare has taken on a different perspective in recent times.

How we need to relook at it, whether it is a cost or investment, how much of it relates to 'medical'; these questions were answered by Chen Fong Tuan, chief people officer, Mah Sing Group, at Malaysia's inaugural Employee Healthcare Interactive 2018, held at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral on 10 October 2018.

[Check out photos from Employee Healthcare Interactive 2018, Malaysia]

As the opening speaker, he set the tone for the event, pointing out that employees are not always happy with their benefits, akin to pay, yet often this is the case because they aren't fully aware about the scope of benefits they are eligible for (50%, according to a 2016 Harris Poll).

He also raised concerns about the amount of money organisations are spending each year on buying premiums, noting that Malaysia is the third-highest (12.7%) among the Asian countries surveyed, after India’s 14% and Indonesia’s 13.1%, in terms of healthcare inflation rate.

Rather than asking how many of us have preventive programmes in our organisations, Chen focused the conversation around: How much time, effort, and investment, are focused on preventive and pre-emptive care for employees?

On that note, he stressed that any employee wellbeing approach today must include the following aspects:

1. Workplace wellbeing

Job insecurity, unreasonable job expectations, and prolonged working hours are also inconducive to workplace wellbeing. In fact, research shows 50% of diseases at work are stress-related, while 35% are physician-diagnosed chronic illnesses.

2. Financial wellbeing

Debt is debilitating, Chen stressed, if not managed - particularly on employees' emotional and psychological health, citing that 56% of Millennials in Malaysia are under car loan or hire purchase debt currently. Thus, corporate wellbeing programme must include:

  • Financial literacy programmes
  • Implement wealth building or finance management plans
  • Automatically opt employees into private retirement schemes (PRS)
  • Engagement with financial advisors
  • Making credit more stringent to avoid ‘sub-prime’ debtors

3. Psychological wellbeing

Research has shown that employees with mental ill-health are more likely to be dismissed and typically two-three times more often unemployed. Moreover, they are less productive at work, and more likely to take sick leave. Chen recommends employers to take the following actions:

  • Train employees to improve their individual psychological capital (self-efficacy, optimism, hope, resilience)
  • Corporate support group for mental health
  • Early identification of symptoms and hence faster turnaround for assistance

4. Social wellbeing

In this case, Chen takes the example of Malaysia's majority class of 'aspirationals' (comprising 51% of the population), i.e. those who aspire to join the middle class (33% of the population). He affirms that employers have a role to play to help move aspirationals to middle/upper class, wherein:

  • Rewards should be based on output and outcomes rather than salary structures
  • Bonus should be based entirely on contribution to the PBT not on a matrix
  • Pay and position equity for gender, ethnic and age social dimensions
  • Inculcate corporate ownership through equity buy-in for employees
  • Provide co-contribution opportunities

5. Physical wellbeing

Urban diseases and cancer have been the dominate cause of death in the post-2010 era, thus Chen asks employers to take the following actions:

  • Policies to encourage staff to take breaks e.g. unlimited annual leaves
  • Workstations and place of work that is totally flexible and open
  • Programmes to activate or incentivise healthy living
  • Provide healthy food choices – co-share the cost
  • Provide appropriate food storage
  • Weight loss challenges
  • Gym in the office
  • Work environment that is conducive to healthy living

6. Ethics wellbeing

This unique dimension considers the fact that if an employee cannot accept the ethical construct of an organisation (aspects such as observed misconduct, pressure to compromise standards), the dilemma will be detrimental to overall wellbeing as the dissonance will be destructive.

What is needed is an investment in ethics and compliance in the following ways:

  • Proper communication of ethical framework to all employees
  • Demonstration of ‘without fear of favour’ in governing breaches
  • Absolute confidentiality in a robust whistleblowing infrastructure
  • Constant engagement with employees on stringent ethical standards
  • Actively manage those who have been pre-emptively identified as having ethical conflicts

With that actionable advice, Chen concluded his presentation, setting the stage for a number of other engaging speakers to take the stage for an intense day of peer-to-peer learning

This knowledge was shared at the Human Resources’ conference, Employee Healthcare Interactive 2018, Malaysia. To know more and attend more such events, please visit: http://www.humanresourcesonline.net/events/.

In addition to Chen Fong Tuan, presenters, table hosts and moderators, at Employee Healthcare Interactive 2018, Malaysia included:

  • Max Thum, lead business strategist, HealthMetrics
  • Sainthan Satyamoorthy, chief corporate solutions officer, AIA Malaysia
  • Rasidah Kasim, group chief human resource officer, Affin Hwang Investment Bank
  • Loo Leap Han, head of human resources and administration, Kota Menara Ufuk
  • Then Sik Kwang, head of HR IT services, Cyberjaya, and global HRBP for solution delivery, DHL IT Services
  • Chandralakshmi Thiruchelvam, head of rewards, shared services and HRBP, Heineken
  • Nyon Kam Yew, general manager, Shell Business Operations Malaysia
  • Edmund Lim, corporate sales director, corporate solutions division, AIA Malaysia
  • Zanita Mohd Zin, general manager, human resources and administration, CIMA
  • Jason Low, marketing manager, HealthMetrics
  • Terri Chan, head of marketing, HealthMetrics
  • Hazlina Hazani, director, regional rewards and performance, CIMB Bank
  • Tung Hsiao Ley, head of AIA vitality, AIA Malaysia
  • Thamayenthi Narayan, assistant general manager, talent management, DKSH Malaysia

Human Resources would like to thank our sponsors and partners for making this event a reality:

In collaboration with: AIA Malaysia

Platinum sponsor: HealthMetrics