Ahead of the Wellbeing @ Work Asia Summit on 27-29 April, we caught up with one of our keynote speakers CY Chan who is the Co-Owner & Chief Talent & Purpose Officer at Hong Kong Broadband Network for a taster of what he will be discussing during his keynote address on day one of the Summit.

We are thrilled that you will be speaking at our Wellbeing @ Work Asia Summit in April. Our first and most important question is, how are you doing today?
I’m doing well. It’s very important for all of us to be healthy and hopeful, especially when we all are looking forward to the pandemic to go away!

As a business leader based in the region, what are the main challenges you are facing when it comes to employee wellbeing?
This is a question not only for HR leaders, but all business leaders. The question itself implies a key challenge for many companies as some business leaders might not be aware of the importance of employee wellbeing.

Our experience at HKBN has always been that talents play a decisive role in our overall success – hence we stop at nothing to ensure they can work and enjoy happy, fulfilled lives. Being a talent-obsessed company, we make benefits of talents a top priority through executing our LIFE-work Priority” culture. Uplifting Talents’ wellbeing has always been our focus, as talents who lead happier lives arrive at work more motivated to perform.

With COVID blurring the boundaries of life and work, it’s become even more important to provide that extra flexibility to our talents to live their lives, to grow personally & professionally, and to become more efficient at their work.

Still, as a company with thousands of talents, it’s not easy to be get timely and effective pulse check on talents’ wellbeing. Keeping communication effective – despite a lack of physical engagement – has been a main challenge to us as we transition into a new hybrid-work mode.

What strategies have you seen developing in the region over the past 12 months during the pandemic to address mental health in the workplace?
Stable income is always a top concern for people. So we launched commission protection initiatives during a period when frontline sales talents’ income was most impacted by the social distancing measures last year. We’ve also passed on the government subsidies received from the regions we operate to all eligible talents, to ensure their family income was supported. Our talents also got a sense of satisfaction by getting hands-on in helping out our customers and our communities, via programmes like fee waivers to customers and free broadband services for the disadvantaged.

In terms of communication, thanks to adopting digitalisation early on, we’ve quickly and seamlessly transitioned our communication and engagement activities to online, including company-wide virtual meetings, e-learning workshops, a pan-regional virtual annual party, etc., ensuring we over-communicate important messages, because during tough times you can never communicate enough.

We’ve also begun adopting a hybrid work model that gives talents the flexibility to when, where, and how they want to work, while meeting individual and team goals. We’re social creatures so having face-to-face time at the office helps effective team collaboration and innovation, but we’re also mindful that flexibility can contribute not just to mental wellbeing but also work efficiency – provided that we give our Talents the needed support.

Why is employee wellbeing so important to you personally?
Stress comes to everyone who work. It is, as extensive research has shown, the cause of many illnesses of the body and mind. As leaders, it is our job to ensure we are not the source of unhealthy stress for our talents, that we help talents properly manage stress, remain positive at work, and bring that positivity into their lives and families.

Like we always stress – when talents are in top shape mentally and physically, they are best equipped to deliver good performance for the company.

What are you most looking forward to about our virtual event in April?
I am really looking forward to a general raise in awareness in the importance of workplace wellbeing, and to companies and HR departments putting some of the best practices out there into action!

Tell us, what is your vision for the workplace of the future, in terms of employee engagement, mental health and wellbeing?
In the future, it would be great to see the workplace becoming a source of joy, inspiration, and meaning to everyone. With the right talent engagement strategy, we can leverage continuous learning opportunities, benefits, motivation schemes to make positively impact to mental health and wellbeing, rather than the opposite.

Covid-19 has undoubtedly influenced all areas of employees personal and professional lives. What are the key learnings from this period and what are your tips for supporting each other through uncertainty?
We should be concerned not just about a talent’s wellbeing, but that of his or her family too. Even if a talent may not be adversely impacted by the pandemic at work, his or her family members could be – and that will affect the talent. For example, talents may need to care for children who are taking remote classes at home. So for us, talents obsession means seeing not just from their point of view, but also from their families’. Give them flexibility, trust them and over-communicate with a focus on tasks and PEOPLE.

How has your organization been leading the way over the last 12 months?
Faced with unprecedented global economic challenges posed by COVID, many of our talents have seen their overall family incomes adversely affected. Last year, we passed on received talent-related government payout funds to our talents in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, mainland China and Macau without reducing their current salaries paid by us.

Moreover, we already started our digitalisation including remote office arrangement preparation before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. This allowed us to adopt a hybrid mode which gives talents flexibility and make remote operations and communication smooth and efficient.

Seeing how getting a job has become even more challenging with the economic downturn, we have expanded our usual summer internship programme last year to give ~100 local university graduates 3 months of on-the-job training and mentorship, transforming them through management job-shadowing and real-world work experiences, so that they are better equipped to take on the job market.

You can hear from CY Chan and over 35 thought-leaders at the Wellbeing @ Work Asia Summit between 27-29 April 2021. For further information and registration details, go to the event website here.

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