KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — Since December 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected the lives of many.
Some two years later, it looks like life will never be the same.
To deal with the effects of the pandemic, companies have taken necessary steps to protect their employees in the midst of uncertainty.
Recognised by Deloitte as Malaysia’s Best Managed companies and top 10 most attractive employers according to Randstad, Sunway Group has rolled out a comprehensive, ongoing communication, educational, health and wellness campaign to address the welfare and wellbeing of its employees.
Sunway Group’s chief human resources officer Foo Shiang Wyne said the Group keeps close tabs on the situation on the ground and also on their employees and communities.
“With the encouragement and blessings from Sunway’s senior management, the Group worked tirelessly to devise and implement a long list of programmes and activities to support and sustain the overall wellbeing and health of employees,” she said.
In the early stages of the National Immunisation Programme, the Group organised webinar sessions for staff to allay their fears and hesitations against the vaccine.
This was part of a holistic employee well-being programme that is focused on encouraging employees to register for vaccination.
As a result, Sunway has achieved more than 95 per cent vaccination rate among its employees contributing to Malaysia’s 53.3 per cent vaccination rate.
While healthcare staff from Sunway Medical Centre carry out webinar sessions to address vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, no less priority was given to the health of frontline workers.
A heart specialist for almost three decades, Dr Samuel Ong Boon Leng, senior consultant cardiologist with Sunway Medical Centre, jumped at the chance to get vaccinated in March.
“I felt privileged and was looking forward to it.”
“I registered because I wanted protection for myself and to be in the wider population group to be vaccinated to increase herd immunity,” said Dr Ong, who loves to take evening walks with his grandson.
Foo said besides the vaccination education and communication programmes with employees, the Group and its 13 business divisions also worked closely to encourage and monitor employees’ vaccination participation and progress.
This was done via various channels like registrations with the National Immunisation Programme’s vaccination centres, volunteering programmes at the four Sunway vaccination centres, Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) and walk-ins, among others, in an effort to achieve full vaccination for staff across Malaysia.
Aside from its vaccination programme, the Group’s human resources division and its employee social club, Kelab Sosial Sunway (KSS), came up with a wide-ranging holistic wellness programme for its employees across the nation to ensure the wellbeing of their physical, mental, emotional and financial state.
Among them was a free health screening programme for eligible employees as part of its non-occupational medical and healthcare services.
The importance of a healthy workplace is important for a person’s health and wellbeing.
Clinical Psychologist and Sunway University Psychology Department head Dr Alvin Ng said a nurturing environment with effective leadership, opportunities for socialisation, mobility, physical activities, rest and personal growth are healthy.
“A healthy workplace is where employees enjoy working and look forward to contributing daily, with good morale,” he added.
“In contrast, a negative working environment can lead to physical and mental health problems. A lack of morale-boosting, no opportunities to learn, workplace bullying and toxic leadership may leave employees feeling trapped with no way out.”
The World Health Organisation estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy an estimated US$1 trillion (RM4.15 trillion) in lost productivity every year.
Consequently, Dr Ng said the cost of mental illness and dysfunction outweighed initiatives and investments needed to provide a more conducive organisational climate with relevant services for employees with regards to personal well-being.
“It costs more to deal with high turnover rates, absenteeism, sick leaves, problematic behaviours and low productivity than to put things in place to prevent such problems,” he added.
To nurture a healthy working environment, numerous activities were organised by KSS across the northern, central and southern regions to engage Sunway staff virtually since the pandemic hit our shores.
Various activities have been organised to help employees in the new normal.
- The Group’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a 24-hour multilingual hotline by independent and professional counsellors that provides continuous assistance to staff who need mental health support to manage stress, health issues, family, financial or personal problems.
- The Group’s human resources also organised a series of training with the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) to improve financial literacy and raise employees’ awareness on financial scams to ensure a sustainable lifestyle.
- Health care packs containing sanitiser, face masks and hygiene essentials were distributed to more than 10,000 Sunway employees nationwide to protect them against Covid-19.
- Health programmes with talks by doctors from Sunway Medical Centre and physical workout videos led by their colleagues at the group’s security division were made to encourage exercising at home.
- Virtual treasure hunts and online fitness workouts Fitscovery, where professional coaches were present to track the activities and nutrition of individual employee’s fitness to provide personalised feedback, were also organised by the KSS.
- With work from home being implemented during the MCO, KSS organised monthly online activities such as crossword puzzles, health quizzes and essay-writing competitions to stay connected with employees. There were also photo-taking competitions where employees could win prizes.
- The Group’s IT division helped to refurbish donated laptops for employees who needed devices for their children’s online learning. Sunway Malls HR helped to identify employees for this initiative to ensure their children are able to attend lessons.
- The Group is also working to expand access to online education by donating tablets with internet access to children so that they can continue learning without disruption.
“As Sunway Group founder and chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah says “we are all in this together.” We are also the same people who are undergoing the stress and challenges of facing this pandemic. Understanding this well helps us in our plans to reach our staff to let them know that we care and we share their concerns,” concluded Foo.