Chua Chin San, Partner, Human Capital Leader, PwC Singapore

PwC Singapore took home the silver award for ' Excellence in Workplace Wellbeing' at the HR Excellence Awards 2021, Singapore.

In this interview, Chua Chin San, Partner, Human Capital Leader, PwC Singapore (pictured above), shares how important leaders’ roles can be in championing workplace wellbeing, and in empowering their talents so that there is a sense of motivation, engagement, and belonging in the organisation.

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

Anchored on our global strategy, 'The New Equation', we’re committed to building a diverse community where people feel they truly belong, where we prioritise their wellbeing, and enable them to bring their best selves to work.

One of our many initiatives is our wellbeing webinars. Each month we have at least two webinars focused on different aspects of wellness (financial, physical, mental, emotional) to support our people professionally and personally.

We’ve experienced record participation rates with our people committing over 300 hours to finding new ways to improve their wellness. Additionally, we have launched a 'Special Care Fund' where we are able to provide our people with greater mental wellbeing support with access to certified psychologists, counsellors, or therapists.

A majority (74%) of our anonymously surveyed employees responded that they “strongly agreed” that these professionals help fostered a safe environment and were great listeners.

Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

Our leadership has always been an enabling force in our firm to empower our people to bring their best selves to work. On top of championing our inclusive culture, they are our wellbeing spokespersons who are approachable, and easy for our people to engage with.

To address evolving COVID-19 challenges, our admin, human capital, and GTS (our IT team) leaders regularly work together to ensure that our people’s health, safety, and resilience are prioritised.

Our human capital team is driven by our firm’s leadership team who sets the tone at the top by encouraging us through this unprecedented time, and helps us innovate fresh ways to encourage our people’s wellbeing through developing new styles of working, driving open, and transparent conversations, and by calibrating targeted policies.

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

When we first moved to our new digitally-enabled office three years ago, some of our people required greater support in adjusting to new ways of working. In many ways, this put us in a relatively better position to quickly pivot to a fully flexible working model when COVID-19 hit.

Although some needed more time to adjust, most of our digitally-enabled staff were already accustomed to using our technological suite, comprising productivity and collaborative tools in their everyday work.

Naturally, we still had to work with our colleagues in IT to ensure that the tech and systems were able to function at the level needed, and we had to work closely with our communications colleagues to keep our people engaged and informed during this time.

We also made sure to increase our focus on caring for our people, especially those who were not able to be with friends and family for extended periods of time.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

We listen to our people’s needs via qualitative and quantitative measurements to help us make data-driven decisions as we increasingly become human-led and tech-enabled.

More than four in five (85%) respondents to our internal wellbeing survey answered positively on our approach to flexible working arrangements, coaching, culture and open communication.

Care packages, work-from-home resources, and our employee assistance programme were also found to be helpful, as well as our COVID-19 support in the form of a Special Care Fund for financial support and mental wellbeing.

Although wellbeing is not something that we can easily attribute a number to, we realised we were impactful in creating an enabling environment for our people when they grew increasingly engaged with our wellbeing programmes.As a proxy indicator, we noted that attendees have given an average rating of 3.5/4 in their assessment of how useful the wellbeing webinars were, and how likely they were to recommend the talks to friends/colleagues.

Q We’re now seeing HR manage portfolios that were previously considered far from their job description. In your view, what are the top three skills and attributes of today’s successful CHRO? 

The role of HR continues to shift beyond its traditional portfolio.

HR managers now need to be excellent contributors to the business, which means bringing business partnering more to life in the form of strengthening company culture, employee experience, and empowering leaders to bring out the best in their people.

Our human capital team played a key role in managing the COVID-19 situation for our people. Working with our communications colleagues, we created a COVID-19 portal where client-service-managers were the first points-of-contact for our people and worked extensively with the Business Continuity team to develop policies.

The mindset and approach at PwC is to continuously adapt, level up, reimagine the possible and bring others along. CHROs should continue to be purpose-led and values-driven to effectively manage change, diverse responsibilities, and empower its people to develop interdisciplinary skills to help them grow their careers.


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