Wong Sze Keed, CEO, AIA Singapore

At the Employee Experience Awards 2022, Singapore, AIA Singapore took home trophies in two big categories - the bronze for Best Employee Wellness Strategy, and the gold for CEO Wong Sze Keed (pictured above) as Most Inspiring Leader of the year. 

We catch up with the award-winning leader and find out about AIA's people-first mandate, how simple gestures like checking in on people make a difference, and the initiatives drilled into place for mental and physical fitness of employees. 

Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs-and-lows of your winning strategy?

My strategy is very much a reflection of AIA Singapore’s – and ours is fairly simple. Our people are at the heart of our operation; thus,our ‘winning strategy’ is taking a people-first mandate. This approach has aided us in weathering through uncertainties brought upon by the pandemic, and delivering our brand promise of enabling 'Healthier, Longer, Better Lives (HLBL)' for everyone.

This award is testament of the value that our people-centric approach has provided in enabling HLBL from the inside out, and we will continue to find ways to build on this for the benefit of our people and customers.

Q Understanding and meeting your employees’ needs and expectations is never an easy feat. How did AIA craft out the perfect solution?

Internally, our people-first mandate is all about cultivating a safe, healthy, and inclusive work environment that empowers people to grow and reach their fullest potential. Checking in on peers, be it formal or casual, is a commonplace occurrence.

Together with findings from our ‘Healthier Together’ study, we soon realised that work fatigue and poorer mental health levels have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This spurred us to launch various initiatives to not only promote mental wellbeing but also encourage better physical fitness.

We also leveraged our AIA Vitality programme and upgraded its functions to further provide holistic support for our members, comprising customers and employees. To ensure members maintained healthy habits during lockdown, we provided free webinars that included sessions with industry experts on remote-working ergonomics, nutrition classes, as well as meditation sessions to help them stay engaged.

Q  How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in AIA Singapore?

Our people-first mandate has aided us in enabling HLBL with a positive impact on AIA’s bottom line. For example, our Total Weighted Premium Income (TWPI) increased by 8% in 2021and we continue to be the largest employee benefits provider in Singapore.

I believe that we have also won the hearts among our customers and our employees as we ended the year with a 91% score for brand awareness, as well as obtained a 30% increment in HLBL engagement – showing strong interest among customers and employees.

Q Could you offer some recommendations to your peers across industries on implementing something similar for their own EX foundation?

When it comes to advice, I believe ‘walking the talk’ is most important. Leaders are the most prominent brand ambassadors of organisations, and C-suite leaders should always try to inculcate aspects of their companies’ brand promise into their day-to-day. There exists a trickle-down effect – the energy and values that leaders put out are echoed throughout their teams.

Mental health is echoed throughout AIA Singapore and has aided in materialising not only better employee wellbeing but also the launch of related products like the AIA Beyond Critical Care (AIA BCC); the first critical illness plan with mental health coverage in Singapore that provides coverage for five prominent mental illness such as major depressive disorder and schizophrenia.

Q If you were to reflect, what is one thing you’ll do differently in executing this strategy?

Efforts in talent development, can always be improved. In line with our people-first mandate, employees are the lifeblood of our business. At the start of the pandemic and as we evolved to digital learning, one of the things that has been challenging was to pivot completely towards e-learning.

Human beings are at the end of the day, social creatures and while they have a plethora of e-learning modules at hand, what we have found are two things – 1) people like learning with other people, and (2) working relationships are enhanced and strengthened when people come together.

Strategic workforce planning is crucial to ensure our organisation has sufficient access to the skills and knowledge to thrive. With proper planning, we can pinpoint talent needs or relevant skills that are necessary and determine which reskilling and upskilling programmes are vital to build a resilient future-ready organisation.

Q Looking ahead, how is AIA going to take this winning strategy higher and further in the coming years? 

Moving forward, our team remains committed to efforts towards building a more sustainable future for generations to come. This is in line with our people-first mandate and brand promise of enabling HLBL for everyone. Some areas of focus are:

  • Fostering a supportive work environment that further promotes workplace diversity and advances our culture of innovation and inclusion.
  • Demonstrating our commitment to physical and mental wellbeing and increasing access to quality healthcare.
  • Empowering Singaporeans to achieve higher levels of overall wellbeing by raising awareness for the role of insurance in supporting holistic financial wellbeing.

Q 10 years down the line, where do you see the future of HR?

The future of work, including pandemic-driven changes in work models, has presented many challenges and opportunities. Employees these days are increasingly looking for jobs that offer them ‘intangibles’; a job that aligns with their values and prioritises wellbeing and purpose. The role of HR and HR professionals will be imperative as they prepare for the future workplace by identifying how to best attract, retain and engage employees while offering them the value and purpose they expect from work.


Image / Provided (featuring Wong Sze Keed, CEO, AIA Singapore)

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