Changi Airport Group has restructured its wellness team to ensure there is more synergy between the engagement action plans and wellness activities, shares Shirley Cheong.

With a bronze win for Excellence in Workplace Wellbeing at HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore, Shirley Cheong, Vice President, People Development & Experience, Changi Airport Group, unveils CAG's 'Heart-ware' terminal that embeds the employees at the core of the business through customised and digitised wellness programmes.

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

Terminal ‘H’ – the top-ranking Changi Airport Terminal

At Changi Airport Group (CAG), we believe in optimising Terminal ‘H’ – Heart-ware, likened to the importance of a human heart – where it is the generator for our body. Over the years, the terminals that are top of our minds and priorities are not only the physical terminals at Changi Airport. Terminal H takes centre stage in all that we do, and it remains the focus for our employees’ engagement interventions which anchor CAG Home.

Tailoring wellness interventions for employees at different life stages and lifestyles

We recognise that every employee is unique, and have varied interests and needs, thus wellness initiatives are designed to cater to the different life stages and lifestyles. Our benefits plan – wellness credits for health screening, and flex credits are tiered to allow employees to claim for a wide range health and wellness expenses. An example of this would be early detection of potential health risks through annual health screening.

This is supplemented by initiatives to promote and encourage behavioural change in our employees to adopt healthier lifestyle habits which indirectly increase work productivity.

Transforming workspaces to promote employee wellbeing

To us, both physical and mental wellbeing are important as they have positive effects on performance and consequently the business results. From the physical aspect, we embarked on a workplace transformation initiative in 2017 and turned the traditional office space into one that facilitates collaboration and innovation.

To further complement our efforts to promote healthy living, we have an extensive workplace wellness programme and ‘Fun Fridays’ that provide a casual platform for employees to come together and bond over fun and thematic activities such as complimentary fitness classes, cooking classes, sports competition and more. Specially curated complimentary talks around mental wellness is also part of a regular feature for our employees, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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?

We are fortunate to have our senior management’s commitment in terms of our people strategy. Yearly budgets are set aside to engage our employees and to support the adoption of healthy habits. Leaders continue to champion cluster specific team bonding activities to enhance and ensure work-life harmony.

Beyond that, in terms of employee benefits, we extend the same benefits to the family members such as offering corporate rates for their health screening packages or employee perks and in-house events. Such initiatives build family bonding and ease stress levels which enable employees to better focus on their work.

We also have a dedicated team which focuses on workplace wellness and are always sourcing for new workplace wellness initiatives to excite our employees.

With the current COVID-19 situation, where some roles are impacted, leaders are also encouraging team members to upskill themselves by exploring the suite of learning programmes available to all employees.

We have also leveraged on technology to further facilitate collaboration among colleagues by introducing a ‘Starship’ platform where employees who are keen, and have the bandwidth to undertake more projects, have the opportunity to explore working on special project teams and roles which not only broadens their skillset, but also helps CAG to pivot adeptly during such challenging times.

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 the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it surfaced a plethora of safety and health concerns, and CAG’s main priority then, was to identify ways to ensure our employees’ wellbeing, and provide emotional support. We gave out care-packs to all employees, with Vitamin C tablets, alcohol/antiseptic wet wipes. These items were in scarcity in the market at the point in time. However, with some resourcefulness and unity in strength, we managed to source for and pack the various care-pack items and distributed to all employees in under three days, and all done in-house!

Subsequently, we also gave each employee a box of anti-stress tea bags as a little gesture to remind and encourage all to practice mindfulness in time of stress and uncertainty. Such timely initiatives were appreciated by our employees.

Our colleagues were initially resistant to the idea of virtual activities. However, with the dedicated team rallying, and supported by our Microsoft Teams platform, we managed to conduct a series of health campaigns and activities virtually. We were very encouraged when people responded positively to these activities, with more than double our usual number of participants garnered for each activity.

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?

As an airport company, we believe in managing our organisational health as rigorously as our airport operations. Organisational health hinges on employee health, and healthy employees will be able to fulfil their greatest potential at work.

One of our measures was through our Circuit Breaker Pulse Survey and Employee Engagement Survey. Recognising that wellbeing is one of the most important elements, we re-aligned and reframed our survey questions to ensure that we are threading inline and beyond employees’ expectations and we are proud to share that employees feel positive about how CAG have been caring for them.

Through our employee engagement and workplace health lifestyle surveys, we know that employees feel that CAG values and cares for our people, and this enables CAG to retain talent and build trust in the organisation. We have consistently maintained a low attrition rate over the years.

Our dedicated workplace wellness team looks after the overall health of our people and through the findings from the annual health screening organisational report, targeted health intervention programmes were effectively organised to address potential health issues. By investing in the health of our employees, we have also avoided higher cost incurred due to high turnover rates, medical cost, employee absenteeism and presenteeism.

Q With WFH being the norm for the bigger part of this year, how has your organisation ensured that workplace wellbeing is still a top priority and greatly looked after?

Digitising wellness resources

We have restructured our wellness team to ensure that there is more synergy between the engagement action plans and wellness activities. Beyond that, we have also digitised our wellness resources such as customised health intervention classes, with recordings made available to all who might not have been able to attend the live session. These can be accessed 24/7, at our employees’ convenience.

The digital edition also allows greater involvement between the family and friends should they choose to access it during the weekends.

With a wider scope of digital activities in place, it aims to reach a larger audience base where more employees can participate at a single point in time.

Dimensions of wellness

We believe that wellness goes beyond individual wellness. It is about taking active steps to ensure the people around us, the place we work at, and the environment we live in are well. This, in turn, contributes back to our wellness. We will be taking a holistic view of our people’s wellness going forward to introduce seven dimensions of wellness, to build an engaged and healthy workforce which in turn contributes to company performance. It is in our belief that employee wellness is a key driver of CAG’s wellness.

Driven by senior management, divisions and employees

With the new wellness dimensions in place, our management will be sharing wellness messages in relation to each of the dimensions and to highlight the importance of self-care in the current environment. To show our strong management commitment to employee wellbeing, we have introduced a new wellbeing engagement indicator which will be measured in our annual Employee Engagement Survey driven by CEO and our senior leaders in the organisation.

We are also reviewing our ground-driven initiatives to support activities that increase awareness or involve the actual practice of healthy habits aligned with the wellness dimensions.

Photo / Changi Airport Group

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