OCBC has recently revamped its benefits programme. Here’s why taking care of its employees is so important to the bank
OCBC Bank prides itself on looking after its employees and it has recently overhauled its benefits programme to ensure it is meeting staff’s needs.
Melissa Foo, head of compensation and benefits at OCBC Bank, explains that the bank’s culture is founded on three employer brand values: caring, progressive and making a difference.
She says: “We make a difference by supporting employees through their careers and ensuring that their benefits are appropriate. Using HR analytics, we are able to make better decisions. Some of the insights we derived from big data have led to transformative changes in our benefits programme.
Foo explains how analytics was used to help it understand what employees needed most: “Our HR Analytics team analysed the utilisation patterns across the different employee age groups. We took a five-year period and looked at medical spend, preventative health screenings and flex dollars spend.”
The exercise revealed that health-screening utilisation was fairly low among employees, which surprised her due to the important preventative role such screenings play.
In a bid to encourage higher take up, Foo’s department introduced a dedicated budget just for health screening within each individual employee’s benefit plan.
“We allocate the budget by age, so at a certain age, when you should be going for more comprehensive health screenings, you have a higher budget.”
“The whole idea is to encourage prevention. The changes received a very positive response from employees,” she says.
OCBC also gives staff the flexibility to customise their benefits to meet their own needs through giving them flex dollars that they can spend as they choose.
Reflecting the bank’s strong Asian values, employees can even use these flex dollars to obtain medical cover for their parents.
People who keep themselves healthy and do not require a high medical budget are able to allocate some of their flex dollars to wellness services.
Employees use a mini-app called MyWellness that is housed within their award-winning HR app called ‘HR In Your Pocket’ to select their benefits options, submit and view their medical claims.
As well as being able to look up details of their medical coverage or how many flex dollars they have, the app also enables employees to complete health-risk questionnaires, of which the app then generates recommendations on how they can improve their lifestyle, such as by giving up smoking or altering their diet.
There is also an online shop where they can buy wellness-related products or sign up for fitness classes to help improve their health.
“We wanted to achieve a one stop platform that employees could use to track and improve their own wellness,” Foo says.
“People can use the app anytime, anywhere. It is important our employees can do these things at their own convenience.”
She adds that since it was introduced in January 2019, all employees have used it, whether to personalise their benefits, improve their health or submit a medical claim.
“Everything is completely digital. We don’t handle any hard copies anymore,” she says.
OCBC has a strong culture of trust, and to promote this, staff are allowed to take up to two days’ sick leave each year without requiring a doctor’s letter to encourage them to rest when they are unwell.
They can also consult a specialist doctor without having to get a referral from their GP.
“As part of the revamp we thought this was an unnecessary step and decided to do away with it,” Foo says.
The bank strives to support its staff in other ways as well, and it has created resource groups for certain segments of employees, such as single mothers or parents with special needs children, as well as providing on-site child care.
In addition, it is the first bank to offer exam leave to parents whose children are sitting Singapore’s Primary School Leaving Examination so that they can coach them for it.
OCBC’s values also influence the working environment at the bank. Foo says: “It is very collegiate and team-focused. There is a lot of emphasis on values and integrity. It is a very forward-looking culture as well.”
She adds that the bank promotes collaboration, and it is common for cross-functional project teams to be formed with people from different departments to work on new ideas and initiatives and address problem statements.
“Many mobile apps have been developed through these cross-functional teams, including HR In Your Pocket, and they were done in a very agile manner in a matter of weeks.”
Foo says: “It is very important to us that employees are healthy and engaged.
“If they are happy to come to work, they are motivated and I think this leads to higher productivity and better results for the bank.”