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Video GPs and crisis hotlines: banks in Asia boost Covid-19 support for staff

Back in early February, as the coronavirus crisis was just kicking off, banks in Singapore and Hong Kong were scrambling to trigger their business continuity plans. It was mainly about ensuring that remote working, split sites, video meetings and staggered starts were running as smoothly as possible – and that staff had the Covid-19 basics, from surgical masks to hand sanitisers.

Banks in Asia are still doing all of the above, and remote working is even being stepped up in Singapore this week in response to the country's ‘circuit-breaker’ restrictions. But banks now have an additional focus: employee wellbeing, both physical and mental.

Societe Generale in Singapore has given employees access to Doctor Anywhere, a video-based GP consultation service, which also provides prescriptions, delivers medicine and issues medical certificates. Staff can “use it virtually and get reimbursed using our regular medical benefits”, says a spokesperson for the bank in Asia.

Similarly, Deutsche Bank has introduced “virtual doctor consultations” and medication delivery for employees, in partnership with its “medical service providers”, says a spokesperson. And DBS has rolled out a new medical helpline and complimentary access to online doctors.

Doctor Anywhere is also used by OCBC as part of its Covid-19 Care Package, which was launched on 17 March for employees in Singapore and their immediate families. If staff have to visit medical clinics in person, OCBC will provide S$100 worth of Grab vouchers to help cover transportation costs, says a spokesperson. OCBC is providing financial support for employees who have a confirmed Covid-19 infection, including “additional hospitalisation benefits”, she adds.

It’s not just about easy access to medical care – banks are also trying to boost the general wellbeing of their employees. Goldman Sachs is running digital meditation and fitness classes for employees in Asia, a programme which is now going global. DBS has organised webinars on health and wellbeing – such as “home exercises to keep fit and stave off anxiety” and “tips to boost the immune system” – via its videoconferencing platforms, a spokesperson told us.

SocGen has a “webinar series” which gives staff access to talks on wellbeing topics aimed at “helping them cope with the current environment”, says the bank’s spokesperson. The French firm also runs a 24/7 crisis hotline that lets staff in Asia “access consultations delivered anonymously and confidentially by trained coaches”.

Meanwhile, Nomura’s employee assistance programme partner, Optum, has launched a Covid-19 resource portal, containing wellbeing guides and online webinars to help staff cope with stress. The bank’s coronavirus-related intranet page includes tips on physical and mental wellbeing for employees and their families.

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Email: or Telegram: @simonmortlock

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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