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From counselling to cooking classes: how Grab is helping Singapore staff cope with Covid-19

Singaporean tech unicorn Grab isn’t just helping its drivers (and other ‘partners’) cope with the Covid-19 crisis, it’s also introduced a range of new policies focused on employee wellbeing.  

Like most firms in Singapore, Grab has instituted work-from-home arrangements to “minimise risk exposure” among employees, says Chin Yin Ong, head of people. And as hundreds of staff work remotely, the company, which was recently valued at US$14bn, is running online wellness programmes that it hopes will bolster morale amid incessant video meetings.

It’s hosting, for example, “weekly mindfulness workshops”, and is also trying to “bring employees together by running fun video tutorials”, conducted by fellow staff and even partners (such as the people who drive its taxis and make its food deliveries). These include online cooking classes and keep-fit routines, Ong told us.

The tech giant provides a free and confidential 24/7 counselling service run by third-party professionals to support employees who may “require assistance in both their personal and work life in such trying times”, adds Ong.

Other employee programmes may potentially be introduced as the coronavirus outbreak worsens in Singapore. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and will adapt our measures to ensure that our employees are well taken care of,” says Ong. “We keep our employees updated through regular and timely communications.”

As we reported earlier this week, Grab is expanding its so-called partner relief initiatives, such as payments to drivers who are hospitalised or quarantined due to Covid-19. These will be funded in part by voluntary Grab employee donations that are matched dollar-for-dollar by the company. “Senior Grab leaders” will take a pay cut of up to 20% to help the “business and its partners ride out the impact of the pandemic”, according to a statement from the firm.

Meanwhile, banks in Singapore have also rolled out new employee wellness programmes. Like Grab, Goldman Sachs is running digital meditation and digital fitness classes for employees in Asia, a scheme which is now going global. Deutsche Bank told us in February that its staff training now includes sessions on building “psychological immunity”, the ability to deal with stress. Standard Chartered is providing counselling services in Singapore, while most banks in the Republic have made staff more aware of their so-called employee assistance programmes.

“Mental health has been a big focus for banks in Asia over the past 12 to 18 months,” says former Barclays and UBS HR manager Renee Conklin, who now runs RC HR Consulting. “Fears about the coronavirus will only increase the anxiety and stress that employees feel, inevitably impacting their productivity and focus,” she adds.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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