Jerene Ang speaks to HR leaders from Aberdeen Standard Investments, British American Tobacco, Denso, Fave, Icon Offshore, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Holdings, and UrbanFox to uncover how organisations are designing truly holistic wellbeing programmes.

A healthy employee is a happy and productive one as various research has shown. In fact, when Human Resources Online asked HR leaders to rate the importance of employee health and wellbeing on a scale of one to 10, we received an average rating of nine.

But, today, health and wellness goes beyond physical wellbeing. It also involves mental, financial, career, and social aspects.

Mohamad Roslan Bin Mohamad Nasir, Senior General Manager – Corporate, Denso Malaysia, reveals that his company, the supplier of advanced automotive technology, systems and components, is in the midst of planning for a full employee wellness package.

“The management is very supportive to embark on employee health and wellbeing,” he said. Even though the firm is still at the benchmarking stage of the programme, Denso has various employee engagement initiatives that aid in staff wellness. For instance, a stress management programme for mental wellbeing and a consistent sports programme that helps with physical wellness.

For career and social wellness, the firm has a strong engagement programme that looks at employee career movement within the company, and regionally, as well as CSR programmes related to sustainable development. With many more elements of wellness to consider, in the following pages, we uncover how organisations are designing truly holistic wellbeing programmes through a series of case studies.


Case study: How Icon Offshore is doing more with less

On a scale of one to 10, employee wellbeing is a 10 for offshore support vessel provider, Icon Offshore. Despite being faced with financial constraints due to a slowdown in the oil and gas industry, when it comes to health and wellness programmes, Kamarunnihar Abdul Samad, General Manager, Human Resources, Icon Offshore, reveals a holistic view is taken.

While Icon Offshore does not tick all five boxes of mental, physical, financial, career, and social, the initiatives it has introduced are very interlinked, combining two or more aspects of wellness.

With the slowdown in the oil and gas sector in recent years, with all our staff activities, we are trying to do more with less.
For instance, to encourage financial wellbeing, a financial talk was held in July 2019 where staff were given practical financial advice and were able to ask questions.

“Because of the overall downturn in the global oil and gas sector, we are unable to pay very competitive salaries. So, we embarked on this talk to help our staff by giving them someone who can advise them on how best they can save for the future.”

The HR team is also working on a talk on how to prevent falling victim to fraud, which will be launched in Q3 2019.

Apart from improving financial wellbeing, the talks also help with mental wellbeing, she says, noting that “if a person has issues with their finances, it’s probably going to affect their mental health as well”.

The initiative she is most proud of is the staff activities, which include indoor and outdoor games that not only get staff moving, but also provides an opportunity for them to socialise within the organisation.

The outdoor games include badminton, futsal, and walk-a-hunt – a treasure hunt that involves walking around town. While the indoor games include charades, darts, and board games such as Scrabble.
“For these games, the staff are divided into three groups. Each group has about 20 to 25 people and includes a number of departments, a gender balance, and various levels. Even the big boss has to play. We encourage the younger staff to be the leaders of the group so we can share leadership advice with them informally,” she says.

The first time the games were rolled out 2017, a town hall was held to explain to employees how the games would work. The second time, a general announcement was made and the team leaders were contacted to disseminate the information.

To encourage participation, the game rules are that each person has to play at least one game. Otherwise, points will be deducted from the team. At the end of the set of games, the winning team will get a monetary reward which they can use to buy lunch or something else for each team member.

While the returns on wellness are difficult to quantify, Kamarunnihar has a positive anecdote to share.

The first time the games were introduced, two people actually changed their mind about resigning, despite being offered a much higher salary at the other organisation. When I asked why, they shared that the activities had helped them feel like the company (here) is a family and that they might not get the same experience there.
The number one thing HR should keep in mind when implementing such programmes? “Safety is always number one.”


Case study: Fostering an environment that prioritises wellbeing at Aberdeen Standard Investments

Aberdeen Standard Investments (Asia) is fully committed to providing employees with a work environment that supports their overall wellbeing.

Tay Kheng-Guet, Head of Human Resources – Asia Pacific, Aberdeen Standard Investments, says: “We have a corporate wellness strategy which is part of the APAC HR strategy on diversity and inclusion. The strategy emphasises fostering a work environment that prioritises employee wellbeing, valuing diversity, as well as building inclusion and social engagement. Broadening the perspective of wellness, there is also a talent and career development strategy which guides the development of employees.”

The APAC strategy has three prongs which include workplace support initiatives that aim to protect employees’ holistic wellbeing in the midst of changes and challenges through three aspects:

  • Agile working and flexible work arrangements which provide employees with flexible autonomy, allowing them to work smarter and more efficiently, which helps them to achieve a work-life balance.
  • Work-life coaches (employee assistance programmes) which is a confidential service aimed at assisting employees on issues that are work-related, personal, legal, financial, as well as in transitions. Employees can have access to five work-life coaching sessions per year across 10 APAC locations. Coaches can support the diverse language requirements in all locations as well.
  • Wellness initiatives that go beyond the usual health screenings.
On the wellness initiatives, Tay says:
We have a comprehensive wellness calendar in place for the whole year – covering monthly talks and activities in accordance with quarterly themes of heart (emotional wellness), mind (personal effectiveness), body (physical wellness) and spirit (mental wellness).
Apart from the monthly activities, on 31 July 2019, Aberdeen Standard Investments held its inaugural ASI Health & Wellness Day where a whole day was dedicated to celebrating employees’ wellbeing. Activities for the event included terrarium building, ergonomics awareness, aromatherapy sessions, and mass yoga conducted across three countries.

“The event is a summer interns-led wellness project aimed at supporting our ongoing effort to promote health and wellness. Our goal is to encourage all employees to prioritise and take charge of their health amid their busy schedules and achieve a work-life balance.”

A variety of activities were planned to educate and cater to individuals’ interests and needs – from an ergonomics talk addressing the importance of proper posture in alleviating common aches and pains resulting from prolonged sitting, to a yoga hour to help employees achieve mental wellness through mindful meditation.

“We also had a terrarium-making workshop with MINDS to reduce stress and sharpen mental focus; as well as an aromatherapy session to help employees understand the tremendous benefits in helping one to relax and improve their mood,” she adds.


Case study: How British American Tobacco Singapore empowers staff to take charge of their wellbeing

Having been established for more than a century, British American Tobacco (BAT) is well-known for taking care of employee welfare. It constantly measures itself against the market and adapts practices to cater to employees through time and demographic-relevant solutions.

Mausami Arora, Head of HR, British American Tobacco Singapore, says: “At BAT Singapore, we are very diverse, with 24 nationalities, a multi-generational workforce and functional breadth. Hence, it becomes imperative to have a holistic approach centred around our employees that has both buy-in and impact.”

We take employee feedback very seriously and we continue to push the envelope to make BAT Singapore a great place to work.
The organisation has a spectrum of programmes covering the five key aspects of wellness. This includes workshops to raise awareness on mental wellness and stress management, as well as those focused on savings and retirement planning.

Apart from the mental and financial aspects, on the social front, BAT has an employee-led and run sports and social committee which organises events such as Family Day, Durian Day, Sports Day, Dinner and Dance, and more. For the career aspect, the firm strongly believes in growth from within and invests heavily in employee development across all grades.

Falling largely under the physical area of wellness, BAT launched an Active360 health and wellness programme in January 2019. The programme seeks to appeal to different generations, empower them to take charge of their wellbeing through various preventive initiatives, and encourage a healthy lifestyle among employees.

Explaining the rationale behind this new programme, Arora says: “When we analysed our inpatient and outpatient data, we realised the trend was reflective of national health concerns around hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol. We tend to spend 75% of our waking hours at work and there is a constant blurring between work and life. Hence, at BAT Singapore, we wanted to create a preventive culture of health and wellness.”

After obtaining buy-in from top management and senior stakeholders, the health and wellness programme was rolled out with a wellness party to coincide with the launch of the National Corporate Steps Challenge, Season 4.

An activity plan for the entire year was mapped out, with weekly recurring activities that are relatable, meaningful, impactful, and amplifying.
“Activities include Yoghurt Mondays, Fruity Tuesdays, Salad Wednesdays and De-Stress Thursdays which are intended to continuously engage the employees and raise awareness on healthy eating and mental wellbeing.” In the middle of the year, BAT followed up with a super healthy buffet day where employees were able to sample healthy and delicious dishes during lunch.

“A role model was also appointed to share how she achieved her desired weight and BMI by persevering with healthy eating habits. Overall, the event was very well-received, and we got lots of positive feedback from the employees.”

To measure programme success, BAT monitors the emerging trends across medical bills, absenteeism, health & safety, employee engagement scores, and employee uptake ratios.

We are already seeing some early success, with absenteeism dropping by 23% to date in 2019 versus the same period last year.
Rather than focusing on fixed targets which may end up killing the programme in its infancy, BAT looks to create a culture where employees are empowered to make conscious choices towards their health goals, she concludes.


Case study: How Taiyo Nippon Sanso Holdings Singapore reduces work-related stress

While employee health and wellbeing is typically considered HR’s responsibility, the responsibility is shared between HR and the business at industrial gas manufacturer, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Holdings Singapore.

With health and wellbeing being an underlying foundation for an effective talent management strategy at the firm, Pauline Loo, Vice President, Human Resource & Admin, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Holdings Singapore, says: “It is a shared responsibility between HR professionals and business leaders to actively engage employees in a holistic manner, going beyond physical wellbeing.”

The organisation has a plethora of initiatives covering the five aspects of wellness. In the area of physical wellness, it has the health and wellness club (H&W) which started in April 2018. Comprising employee representatives from various divisions, including engineering and HR, the club rolls out monthly health and wellness activities ranging from badminton sessions to bowling sessions, and even ice-skating sessions.

“This year, starting from July and ending in September, for a period of three months, the H&W club organised sports tournaments for our employees,” Loo adds.
In the area of financial wellness, as part of its HR Cares – Keep Our People Interactive quarterly seminar, speakers are invited to speak with employees on various wealth education series, ranging from will-writing to lasting power attorney.

On the social front, the company leverages on its Unity in Diversity campaign which started on 8 August 2018. The firm identified its first Unity in Diversity ambassador to promote D&I in social activities within the company and among the group’s subsidiaries.

“A Unity in Diversity video was produced in June 2019 to showcase the spirit of embracing unity despite differences between the Japan head office and the Singapore regional headquarters. We are also working on a Unity in Diversity video for the Southeast Asia region.”

In the area of career wellness, it has implemented two competency models – the Managing Self and Leading Others model and a Human Resource competency model. The two models were designed and developed from April 2019 to ensure consistent talent management practices across Southeast Asia, and India. “This helps integrate talent practices, for example, ensuring that rewards are tied to performance, and performance is tied to development.”

To ensure mental wellness, one of the 10 core general competencies in the Managing Self and Leading Others competency model is around time and stress management.
“Incorporating ‘time and stress management’ as one of the ten core general competencies helps create awareness among the employees that effective time management enables them to deliver their work assignments in an efficient manner and reduce unnecessary work-related stress. “In this way, the employees manage themselves better in terms of striking a better work-life balance and overall mental wellbeing.”

In fact, Loo shares that time and stress management was the first core general competency shared with employees in the inaugural run of HR Cares Brown Bag seminars.

Asked about measuring the ROI on wellness, Loo reveals she plans to measure it through employee engagement analytics.


Case study: A range of wellness activities at Fave

While online-to-offline commerce platform Fave does not have special initiatives parked under each aspect of wellness, the organisation organises a range of activities, says Anisha Sasheendran, Regional Head of People, Fave.

To promote physical wellness, the firm organises post-work exercise classes throughout the week.

“We have Yoga Mondays, Futsal Tuesdays, Badminton Wednesdays, and Zumba Thursdays. We also have free health checks and talks from time to time,” she says.
On the financial front, with the average age of Fave’s employees being 27, many are interested in wealth and financial management, she observes. In line with that, the organisation hosts talks and workshops with external partners from time to time.

In an effort to support employees’ mental wellness, while Fave does not have experts within the company, it provides contacts to organisations/ experts that are trained to help individuals who need assistance.

“We have also given time off to some employees that were pre-diagnosed/diagnosed with some sort of mental condition. This really helped them rejuvenate. Some are back now and doing great stuff within the organisation.”

On the career front, Fave has mentorship programmes, internal job rotation opportunities, and one-to-one career chats for employees who are keen to know more about their career growth.
To provide opportunities for employees to socialise, Fave has various social events in and out of the office which employees are occasionally able to bring their family and friends to attend.

Apart from that, she says: “We host external events at the office and encourage our employees to attend networking and external sessions outside the office as well. We also established a learning fund which employees can use to learn something new – from attending conferences abroad to even taking a Korean class.”

The initiatives are communicated to staff via Fave’s monthly/quarterly all-hands sessions as well as via email, and effectiveness is gauged through pulse survey scores.


Case study: UrbanFox’s broad spectrum of health and wellness initiatives

Employee wellbeing is of utmost importance to UrbanFox, a B2B2C logistics enabler that is a subsidiary of Keppel Logistics.

Abeline Kok, HR Team Lead at UrbanFox, shares that the organisation undertakes a broad spectrum of health and wellness initiatives to support the physical, mental, financial, career, and social wellbeing of its employees.

On the physical aspect, she says: “We have mobile massages for our employees at least once a month. Employees register for the massages; each session lasts about 20 minutes.”

The massages are also part of UrbanFox’s CSR efforts as the firm engages the mobile massage team from the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped.
Other initiatives for physical wellness include high intensity interval training workshops once to twice a month, and complimentary health screenings for employees.

On the mental aspect, UrbanFox organises lunchtime talks on mental wellness, as well holds staff engagement sessions.

“The engagement sessions support mental wellbeing by providing employees with a platform for them to share their feelings and provide feedback.”

In addition, lunchtime talks are also held to promote financial wellness. Topics for the talks include personal financial planning as well as sharing on CPF and MediSave policies and schemes.

To ensure career wellness, UrbanFox has career discussions with high potential employees. “During these sessions, we will discuss their career goals,” Kok says. She adds that mentors are also assigned to high potentials.

Elaborating on other employee development and growth initiatives, she notes:

We work with Workforce Singapore to conduct skills profiling workshops for our employees. We also have quarterly appraisals where supervisors speak to teams about their performance and careers.
On the social front, UrbanFox has a plethora of initiatives to encourage staff bonding. The firm organises family day events, festive celebrations, as well as team building sessions every year.

“We also have activities which are staff-initiated. Employees with similar interests will create a chat group on Google Hangouts and organise get-together sessions. We have chat groups for bowling, rock climbing, board gaming, KTV, and more,” she says.

The initiative under the social umbrella which she is most proud of, is the Foxlympics, a sports and games event that runs across the entire year. The initiative started in 2018 and is now in its second run.

It comprises competitions in foosball, table tennis, darts, Jenga, and Scrabble. Staff are grouped into divisions which compete against each other. Each division will consist of a few departments to facilitate inter-department interactions. At the end of the year, a trophy will be given to the division with the most points.

Senior management is supportive because it sees that sports and games contribute to the physical and mental wellness of the employees.
In addition, bonds between colleagues have strengthened over the friendly competitions.

“The turnout for the event has been good and there has been positive feedback through various channels, including employee surveys and monthly round tables with the Managing Director. We also encourage staff to share feedback on Glassdoor. Since it is anonymous, the feedback should be pretty honest,” she says.


This feature was published in Human Resources’ September-October 2019 edition of the Singapore magazine.

Photos / provided Image/ iStock