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Empowering your employees to work independently is crucial for companies to come to grips with the trend to remote working that has become the norm in 2020.

That’s one of the key takeaways from a Hong Kong think tank of HR experts who explored the issue at the recent panel discussion: The business of employee wellbeing strategies in the post-COVID-19 world.

The debate was moderated by John Lee, the former regional head for benefits and wellness at JP Morgan, who kicked off the debate by posing the question, “How do we navigate the challenges thrown up by the pandemic?”

One way that Bank of America Merrill Lynch is assisting the wellbeing of employees is by “paying for employees' and their families' Covid tests” said Tommy Fung, the international banking conglomerates head of comp & benefits Asia.

“We have also developed a dedicated hotline for employees do discuss their concerns. It was actually established before the pandemic but it is becoming increasingly important,” added Fung.

Leo Chan, director for human resources for Microsoft Hong Kong emphasized that it was crucial to “instill the right lessons” with employees and to ensure that they have “safe harbour touchpoints.”

He also underscored the “importance of over communication” and how it is incumbent upon “leadership teams to listen to employee concerns”, amid the myriad challenges thrown up in 2020.

Christian Wards, AIA group director of group healthcare was keen to draw attention to how younger people are especially vulnerable during this time, pointing out that “young people are particularly highly stressed as they enter the workforce”.

Wards added that HR needed to be mindful of the wellbeing of their team pointing out that “a high level of stress, can lead to anxiety and then on to more serious mental health issues” if left unchecked, adding that “blending wellness digital components” is a highly effective way to help deal with the pressures thrown up by the pandemic.

The panel discussion was all part of a broader two-day virtual event, Employee Benefits Asia 2020, produced by Human Resources, which took place on 28-29 October at the Hong Kong Productivity Council in Kowloon Tong.

On day 2, there was a follow-up think tank: Communicating effectively and building trust in the new way of work. It featured insights from panelists (see main photo from left to right), Philip Lee, APAC HR director for the The Clorox Company, Stella Chiu, APAC internal communication head for Rockwell Automation, Lipi Srivastava, Global VP of HR for Lynk and Jenny Pong, HR director, Gammon Construction. The discussion was moderated by angel investor and author Ivan Yong. 

The overarching theme of the conference was scouting the path of maximum resilience to performance management in the post-pandemic workplace. It included talks and panel discussions from some of Hong Kong’s most highly regarded HR luminaries.

In addition to a thought-provoking session by HKBN co-owner and chief talent officer, CY Chan, who talked about how co-ownership is a powerful and sustainable talent motivation strategy, there was also insights from HR leaders from Jardine Matheson, Hilti Asia, Moody’s, Schneider Electric and The Clorox Company, among many others.