With a gold win for Excellence in Women Empowerment Strategy at HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore, the team at Cigna Singapore gets started on creating effective wellness solutions by assessing the needs of its employees and identifying key areas of concern.

In this interview with Priya Veeriah, Christine Koh, Head of Human Resources, Cigna Singapore talks about the crucial role of open and honest communication in its achievement.

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

To us, holistic corporate wellness starts with the identification of key concerns. We make use of every opportunity that we can get to check-in on our teams about their wants and needs. This entails keeping an open mind to understand suggestions coming from different viewpoints, and to subsequently act on them.

Beyond that, we also believe that everyone can and should have a say in the generation of innovative ideas in response to specific issues.

After all, the best wellness solutions often come directly from the people who are experiencing the problems first-hand. Cigna therefore encourages employees to get involved by brainstorming and submitting ideas to improve corporate wellness.

An innovation award further incentivises this by recognising and rewarding ideas that demonstrate efficacy as well as solution differentiation. Of course, the success of our methods also hinges on the factor of consistency, so that our solutions can continue to evolve to meet changing needs.

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?

A crucial step to getting started on creating effective wellness solutions is to assess the needs of our employees and identify key areas of concern. We understand that the open and honest communication of these needs is not always easy as it is often dependent on trust.

This is where our leadership team comes in. In more ways than one, the leadership team is the bridge between our employees and senior management. They help to observe the engagement of our HR initiatives, as well as to facilitate informal and direct feedback with their teams.

The communication channels range from feedback submitted to the social committee, to casual conversations that transcend bureaucratic levels. Through this, they have helped to build trust and encourage more open and valuable feedback, which in turn helped us to remain flexible and adaptive in fine-tuning our HR priorities.

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?

Our experience has taught us that there really is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to HR. It is simply not feasible for every initiative to satisfy or benefit everyone. The best that we can do is to ensure that we are communicating frequently and effectively with our team members so that we can improve on our initiatives over time.

For instance, one of our main hurdles was the inconsistency between knowledge and practice. While most of us might understand that health and wellness activities are an essential part of our lifestyles, we might not actually have the time or energy to put these thoughts into action.

In order to get past this and boost the effectiveness of our initiatives, we communicated with our team members to understand their interests, priorities and beliefs. We then realised that they are especially keen on giving back to society and being socially responsible citizens. As such, we decided to supplement our fitness challenges with similar opportunities to support social causes as a way to further encourage participation.

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

We have always been passionate about providing solutions that are both holistic and comprehensive. This focus extends to the way that we measure our ROI too. Quantitatively, we are encouraged by our net promoter score, as well as our high employee engagement and low turnover rates.

In our Employee Engagement Survey, 92% of employees stated that Cigna inspired them to "go beyond formal job responsibilities" to help the company succeed.

We are also growing steadily, with low attrition rates of 10 - 12% as compared to the average market rate of 15%. Our net promoter score has similarly improved by approximately 24 points in the span of one year.

Qualitatively, we take pride in engaging our employees in frequent conversations to gather their opinions, emotions and feedback. It is important for us to keep our team members motivated and happy so that they are well-positioned for personal growth and success.

Q Given just how quickly the external business environment is adapting, how do you ensure that your HR team keeps pace with corporate wellness and is constantly improving to innovate in this space?

As a leading global health service provider, we are always up to date on the latest healthcare trends that our society and communities need. We are therefore able to tap into this knowledge and afford the same quality of care to our employees. In this regard, being at the forefront of the industry provides us with unique opportunities to explore and develop new offerings and initiatives.

As more wellbeing solutions are made available to our clients, our employees also benefit from related initiatives such as pilot programmes, information workshops, test kits, small group sharing sessions and even promo codes for further discounts.

Ultimately, we draw from all knowledge bases that are available to us, so that we can stay at the top of the game in helping our employees manage their health and wellbeing as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Photo / Provided

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section

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