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HR guide: How to develop a pandemic-proof employee wellbeing strategy
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HR guide: How to develop a pandemic-proof employee wellbeing strategy


This article is brought to you by AIA Singapore.

It’s not difficult – have a look at what HSBC Singapore, Singtel, and UTAC Headquarters are doing.

Search for ‘employee wellbeing’ on Google, and you will find several reports that only point to one key takeaway: mental health has gained more prominence than ever before.

Since COVID-19, stress levels of employees have shot up, thanks to long hours of social isolation, job uncertainty, and anxiety associated with ever-changing safe distancing rules.

Whilst many employers put great effort into the physical wellbeing of their employees, they struggle to prioritise their mental wellbeing. Employees cite mental health stigma as a top concern and are uncomfortable to discuss it with their superiors.

With most of us working remotely and cooped up behind computer screens, what is needed are high-impact digital engagement and wellbeing solutions for employers and people managers that can be rolled out conveniently and easily.

And these are exactly what the following leaders are championing: Brandon Coate, Head of HR, HSBC Singapore; Aileen Tan, Group CHRO, Singtel, and Alexander Yap, Head of Total Rewards (APAC & USA), UTAC Headquarters. Let us find out what they are doing so well.

The trio’s digital engagement and wellbeing strategies are performing far better for their employees than what studies suggest. Let us deep dive into what they are getting right.

#Tip 1: Create a wellbeing framework to define your actions

HSBC Singapore has created a framework that focuses on four wellbeing pillars: mental health, physical health, financial health, and work-life balance. Coate says: “We support our colleagues by regularly promoting the wellbeing resources offered and advocating through wellbeing-dedicated communications and events.”

Examples would be HSBC Singapore’s reimbursement allowance to set up an ergonomic home office, as well as a virtual wellness campaign to keep everyone healthy while working remotely.

“We also collaborated with our insurance provider, AIA, to offer all colleagues telemedicine by Whitecoat so that they can seek medical help from the comfort of their home,” shares Coate.

Similarly, UTAC Group’s wellbeing framework is underpinned by its core values of unity, trust, accountability, and communication, to guide all employee-related decisions. “Consistent with these values, we believe in having a positive environment in our workplaces and lending support for employees’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing,” Yap explains.

#Tip 2: Listen and adapt to your employees’ needs constantly

Besides traditional medical and insurance offerings, Singtel is giving employees what they really need in the midst of a pandemic, i.e. a proactive stance on preventive and early intervention measures. This includes a confidential, 24/7 professional counselling service, as well as coaching and mindfulness sessions on developing a resilient mindset.

Tan firmly believes: “When people are in a state of wellbeing at work, they are inspired to stay healthy, happy and positive,” adding this also enables them to develop their fullest potential, be creative, stay productive, and build positive relationships with others.

One of the best ways to understand what employees want, is simply, to ask them.

At UTAC Group, employees feel heard and engaged through engagement surveys (called U-Pulse), while at HSBC, focus groups are another valuable tool to gather feedback and help shape new policies.

#Tip 3: Partner your insurer for maximum wellbeing impact

Across the organisations we spoke to, the support of a reliable partner, AIA, has been crucial in delivering the message on employee wellbeing, anchored in its signature programme, AIA Vitality, which supports over 100,000 customers towards healthier, longer, better lives.

At UTAC, Yap relies on AIA’s quarterly and yearly reports for performance comparisons on factors such as real age versus company age, improvements in step count, number of employees actively doing their personal online health assessment, and more.

He shares: “We have seen an incremental increase in overall Vitality platform engagement scores from when we first started in 2017 at 47% to current scores at 62%.” He adds that improvements are also evident in the total number of steps being 3.38x, and member-level achievements (where nearly 40% are now gold-member level achievers).

In addition to better health, there are real cost savings involved. Singtel, for instance, reviewed the underlying drivers behind medical claims to identify areas for targeted intervention.

Tan shares: “Over a three-year period, the proportion of employees screened as overweight has come down by more than 15%. With better health practices, the average incidence of GP doctor visits up to pre-COVID had reduced by as much as 10%.

“The qualitative benefits are also notable, as employees have also been making more informed and better lifestyle choices, for example, in nutrition and exercise.”

We hope the practical sharing by Coate, Tan and Yap, provides you with renewed passion to pandemic proof your employee wellbeing programme and help your colleagues live better lives.

Photos / Provided by AIA [Featured here are L-R: HSBC's Brandon Coate, Singtel's Aileen Tan, and UTAC's Alexander Yap

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Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

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