Employee Benefits

As Malaysia transitioned from a pandemic to an endemic phase at the end of October 2021, Malaysians are facing the reality of living with Coronavirus in the community. Boasting strong vaccination rates, Malaysia is still seeing a high number of new COVID-19 infections. Despite this, many states are transiting out of the National Recovery Plan Phase 1 and reopening various sectors, and companies are awaiting the return of their employees to offices as the vaccination rate improves.

Findings from KPMG’s 2021 CEO Outlook Pulse Survey suggest most companies will look to resume their working arrangements in the office, with 90% of the five hundred CEOs surveyed intending to request that employees report when they have been vaccinated. Therefore, the need for a safer working environment is more crucial than ever, particularly with the imminent move to an ‘endemic’ phase.

 

A SAFE & EFFICIENT WORK ENVIRONMENT

Currently, we understand this transition would see many companies reintroducing employees into the office through a hybrid working arrangement. This includes a mix of employees working from the office while the rest work remotely or at home.

To enable a safe and effective re-introduction of employees to the office, Hays Group Head of People and Culture, Sandra Herke, proposes a redesign of the office to ensure sufficient space for physical distancing and communication between colleagues. Other preparations such as clear rules on using shared spaces need to be communicated, with sanitizer readily available in common areas.

While office workers can generally work safely from home, manual workers face a higher risk of infection due to the nature of their work. Companies will need to pay special attention to ensure the new safety guidelines are effectively enforced. Failure to comply with guidelines can lead to detrimental consequences, one such example was a manufacturing company in Malacca, where the plant’s operational process was affected due to an effort to contain a COVID-19 outbreak among employees.

 

MENTAL HEALTH IN & OUTSIDE THE OFFICE

As Malaysian workers make their way back into offices, the demand for flexibility in working arrangements is strong, with one report by EY showing 90 percent of Malaysian respondents want flexibility in where and when they work. For workplaces using a hybrid model of office and remote work, it is critically important to maintain connectivity and frequent catch-ups between managers and staff are important for reducing feelings of isolation. Stephen Tracy, CEO of Milieu Insight proposes organizations focus on other approaches beyond using collaborative digital platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Interestingly, employees still tend to desire stronger connections with their colleagues, even if the connection is remote.

Companies are still required to include employees who continue to work from home in their playbooks for health and wellbeing, with evidence showing remote workers are not immune to the impacts of stress. In a survey conducted by global professional recruiting agency Michael Page, 68% of employees feel pressure to be ‘always on’ while working from home, with 70% reporting their professional stress levels have increased since the onset of COVID-19.

Part of the solution may be for companies to introduce Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). This provides an avenue for employees to obtain immediate professional care for their mental health. Most EAPs provide a 24-hour hotline and ensure employee anonymity. Since the onset of the pandemic, our clients are increasingly aware of the importance of supporting staff mental health, and we have seen an increase in inquiries for the introduction of such services to Employee Benefits programs.

 

WITH YOU ALL THE WAY

With our knowledge and experience in Employee Benefits, we are able to work closely with selected vendors to deliver these digital solutions. To find out more, please feel free to reach out at any time.

 

Andrew Goh

Employee Benefits Malaysia

andrewgoh@mpinsb.com.my 

 

 

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