APAC employers ramping up health programmes for employees

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As the pandemic causes significant economic downturn, half of the organisations surveyed have taken actions to reduce cost through actions such as hiring freeze, while others are thinking of taking further steps such as furloughs (16{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}), workforce reduction (21{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}), reducing or delaying merit increases (23{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}), salary freeze (13{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}), salary reduction (10{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}) and reducing annual bonus accruals (26{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}) for the remainder of 2020.

In dealing with COVID-19’s impact, 40{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} of surveyed employers are looking at enhancing well-being programmes, while 23{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} will increase health care benefits. Also, almost two in five employers plan to enhance mental health services and stress or resilience management for their employees over the next six months.

In several markets, such as Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, more organisations have said that wellbeing programmes are one of the most important benefits they can offer their employees this year.

To help their employees adjust to a “new normal”, 57{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} of firms are offering new virtual solutions that make it easy to implement and support employees to work-from-home. Close to eight in 10 (79{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}) have increased access to video-conferencing to allow for virtual meetings to keep employees connected around the world, while 52{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} have begun offering flexible work hours to allow employees to tend to child or elder-care responsibilities.

“The pandemic has led to a much higher level of employee anxiety and stress, so most employers are focused on promoting or enhancing their current wellbeing programmes from now until 2021,” said Pheona Chua, regional senior consultant, corporate health & wellbeing, Asia and Australasia at Willis Towers Watson.

“More than half of the companies we surveyed plan to prioritise access to high quality mental health solutions for their employees next year. Our study also tells us that more that 50{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} of companies in Asia-Pacific are likely to include telecommuting as an essential work arrangement option for the remainder of this year. Hence, some employers may want to look at broadening its current programmes such as enhancing virtual care or helping their employees to set up an ergonomic workstation at home.”

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