Aditi Sharma Kalra and Priya Sunil highlight the key takeaways from an interactive panel discussion on holistic health management programmes at Employee Benefits Asia 2019, Singapore. 

On day one of Employee Benefits Asia 2019, Singapore (14 May), held at Shangri-La Hotel, one of the key topics centered on designing a holistic health management programme that seeks to engage and improve the performance of employees.

This was discussed in an interactive panel session involving HR leaders across industries (pictured above, from L-R):

  • Moderator: Jade Camps-Douglas, Head of Wellbeing, Rolls-Royce
  • Alvin Fu, Chief Corporate Solutions Officer, AIA Singapore
  • Mukta Arya, Head of Human Resources – South East Asia, Societe Generale Asia-Pacific
  • Chan Yuen Ling, HR Director, Seagate Singapore
  • Eleana Choy, Chief Human Resources Officer, Thome Group

[Find more photos from the conference on our Facebook page]

During the session, the panellists explored various aspects of the topic - from what each of their organisations is undertaking to promote health and wellness, the challenges on creating inclusiveness, as well as how they think ROI should be measured on employee wellness programmes.

The key takeaways are highlighted below:

Approach to a holistic wellness programme

Alvin Fu, Chief Corporate Solutions Officer, AIA Singapore, shared that AIA maintains an active Vitality base, where employees are covered across different components. Vitality interventions have proven results, for example, medical certificate (MC) claims have come down by one day.

Meanwhile, Mukta Arya, Head of Human Resources – South East Asia, Societe Generale Asia-Pacific talked about its Life at Work programme, which promotes the development of individual and collective wellness, and has been running globally for about three years.

The company covers physical health, financial health and recreation, while it is still in the early stages of developing its mental health aspect.

In another example, Chan Yuen Ling, HR Director, Seagate Singapore, pointed out: "Given the diversity of individuals in our mix, we are all uniquely different, we have evolving needs, differing expectations. In such cases, sometimes adding new interventions does not quite solve the problem. As such, recently we have tried to stock-take and put things in a more structured manner."

In doing so, the company has implemented its wellness programme in pillars - physical, which involves an on-site gym and activities such as the National Steps Challenge; social, which creates a sense of belonging; mental wellbeing, which focuses on self-care, self-awareness and self-regulation while supporting employees in the work environment; and financial, which helps employees with budgeting, loans, purchasing a car, and more.

Lastly, Thome Group has an ongoing one-year programme, called WeConnect, centering around work-life balance. Eleana Choy, Chief Human Resources Officer, said of the programme's purpose: "It's not just connecting among ourselves but with the society through corporate social responsibility."

Creating inclusiveness in programmes

As with every new initiative, the four panellists agreed that there were certain challenges faced. For instance, in engagement of participants and stakeholders.

Mukta highlighted: "Whenever you have a new initiative, not everybody is going to be interested. In the beginning, even if we touch 30% to 40% of the people, it is good enough for a start."

To then address the issue of participation, particularly where employees may or may not be motivated to be part of a programme, getting them involved from the birth stage of the initiative can help. Jade Camps-Douglas, Head of Wellbeing, Rolls-Royce, affirmed: "Engaging people in designing a programme is a key way to overcome the challenge of participation rates."

She added: "There has to be a lot of stakeholder engagement with our leadership teams - not only to say this is a key focus of our employee value proposition, but really for them to go out there and take part."

Another challenge, this one raised by one of the delegates, was around how/whether contractors are covered under the company's wellbeing programmes.

To this, Chan replied on her organisation's approach: "While we don’t claim to be providing an equal experience for contractors and full-time staff, but we do try to make the experience inclusive. For example, if there is a talk we will invite them, or if we are distributing food packs.

"It is important to demonstrate that we treat everyone equally and with respect, no matter what. It is important in these cases for the relevant stakeholders to align the messaging."

Measuring ROI on wellness programmes

Rounding up the discussion, Camps-Douglas asked: "How do you talk about the ROI for rolling out wellness programmes?"

Affirming that this can be quite a challenge, Fu replied: "The answer for that - while it can be be truly mathematical, it should actually start from being philosophical. Taking care of employees is simply the right thing to do.

"But there is a mathematical way too  - calculate your MC rate and map against the employee's productivity. That's one way. Another way is to look at medical claims cost per person. If we can halve that number, what would those savings be?"

Adding on, Chan mentioned the need for frequent dialogues with the management, as well as the humility to admit that some programmes may not be working or may need to be changed. "We constantly are in the mode of readjustment, besides just adding new activities."