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In late August, Manulife Hong Kong launched two initiatives to boost social wellness among its employees during COVID-19, as told to Human Resources Online. 

The first initiative 'Travel the World Virtually Contest' is a photo competition. Employees can upload their favourite photo from past trips onto an internal site and add a caption and explain why the photo is special. Photographers with the most likes receive cash as their rewards, while all participants are automatically enrolled in a voucher lucky draw. 

“We have not been able to travel outside Hong Kong, and we understand lots of our colleagues like travelling and often get out of Hong Kong before COVID-19 to see the world,” said Donna Kirmani, Manulife's CHRO. 

“Even though physically they can’t be there now, with the contest, they are still able to virtually connect with the rest of the world,” she added. 

The second initiative, a bingo game, was also held virtually where employees need to search for colleagues that match the qualities stated on the digital Bingo card in order to win the game.

"As part of our employee engagement programme, we want our people to have best friends at work. We want them not only know the people they work best with, but also try to reach out to other people in the company,” Kirmani said. 

The Manulife bingo game ranges from finding a colleague who knows how to bake, one who had made a charity donation in the past year, to one who has a passion drinking Chinese tea. 

"People have a reason to reach out to each other. They are able to start a conversation with colleagues they might not talk before," she said. 

Both initiatives are part of Manulife’s 'Well-being month', a month-long campaign aiming to address social, financial, physical and mental wellness each week. 

"We always have a dedicated initiative to address employee wellbeing every year. However, if not for the pandemic, we would not have figured out as many virtual initiatives," Kirmani said. 

Looking into the future of HR, she foresees a surge in demand for flexible working arrangements in terms of working hours and location, an increasing focus in equal opportunities, diversity and inclusion considerations and a call to include digitalisation in all HR processes.