What key qualities make an organization a great place to work? How and why does an organization need to apply such qualities to its workplace environment?
With the COVID pandemic as a global emergency now at its end, these questions come to the fore for workforce leaders as companies strive to understand the best way to position their workplace practices after all the changes that happened in the last three years.
Sun Life Grepa Financial, Inc. (Sun Life Grepa or SLGFI), a major life insurance company in the country, sets its direction for workplace culture in these new times by zeroing in on family-centric values and wellness.
Family values and listening at all levels
Sun Life Grepa has a family-oriented culture. From calling each other ‘Sun Grepamilya’ (a variation of ‘pamilya’ or ‘family’) to giving a warm welcome to people, Sun Life Grepa employees have shared experiences of feeling like part of a home community, which helps in their dealings with colleagues.
Approachability of people at all levels of the organization as well as willingness to listen to difficult conversations have been cited, and these are validated though several company programs.
One such program is the “Up Close with Richard Lim” breakfast gathering with selected employees and the company president. Another program is the “HR Kamustahan” (‘Kamusta’ being a Tagalog variation of ‘how are you?’), a one-on-one discussion with incumbents of key roles as well as with other high performers.
In these sessions, the company is able to listen openly to sentiments regularly to maintain its family culture, share its sense of care and allow employees to feel comfortable enough to be their authentic selves at the workplace.
In 2022, the “SLGFI Cares for You” program encompassing all wellbeing initiatives of the company was born. The flagship program of “SLGFI Cares for You” is our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which offers free 24/7 counselling service covering mental wellbeing, financial, and legal advice. The company recognizes the critical role of the family in the overall wellbeing of our employees, hence, the program is also extended to our employees’ household members.
Prior to the launch of “SLGFI Cares for You”, the company already had various programs that ensured the wellbeing of our employees, including sports activities before the pandemic and virtual wellness sessions during the pandemic. These virtual wellness sessions are held on weekends so that our employees’ family members can also join.
This was further complemented by digital information campaigns about wellness that included “Mindful Mondays” and “Workout Wednesdays” where relevant fitness videos and wellness content were shared for employees’ reference. On top of this, webinars to support overall wellbeing were held covering stress management, office ergonomics, healthy meal preparation, resiliency and burnout, among others.
Spiritual wellness was also part of the program. During the lockdown, Sun Life Grepa offered a virtual spiritual retreat, on top of the virtual First Friday Masses. In the new normal, these church services now follow a hybrid format.
Safety in the workplace
Balancing the safety of our employees and addressing the needs of our clients are key priorities in Sun Life Grepa. As part of promoting the safety of our employees during the pandemic, the company implemented strict safety protocols and held various COVID-19 learning programs with employees and their families. Employees who had to go to work to process client claims and deliver critical services during the lockdown were provided shuttle service. A free vaccination program for all employees and their loved ones was implemented despite occasional scarce supply of the vaccine.
Apart from the company’s daily monitoring of workplace cases of COVID, a medical teleconsultation facility was also made readily available to our employees and their dependents.
The company has also been making sure its employees are empowered to make informed financial decisions and also to be knowledgeable about life insurance in general.
Prior to the pandemic and up to now, regular learning sessions on insurance and investments are conducted with employees, where industry experts are invited to talk about managing one’s finances. This goal is also supported by our Employee Assurance Program that allows employees to purchase investment products via a salary deduction plan.
Continuous employee engagement and development
Throughout the pandemic, employees continued to enjoy employee engagement activities that include the annual summer outings, quarterly townhalls, annual Christmas parties, and even occasional movie night events.
Employee development likewise did not stop during the pandemic. Sun Life Grepa ensured that people learned new ways of working as part of their development plans via programs that include data management and presentation and business communication. Company-wide learning programs on “Agile Ways of Working” and “Psychological Safety” were also rolled out across the organization.
In the area of rewards and recognition, Sun Life Grepa continued to provide the salary and benefits of our employees throughout the pandemic, even enhancing these to help alleviate challenges when needed. There was also no interruption in recognizing the accomplishments of employee achievers through various awarding activities, including nominations to awards in the global Sun Life office.
These measures have resulted not only in high scores in internal engagement surveys but also an official certification as a Great Place to Work™ for Nov 2022 – Nov 2023, with an 83% Trust Index Score.
“Our Great Place to Work certification validates that Sun Life Grepa employees truly trust the company and their leaders,” said Vice President for Human Resources Pinky Moreno. “We continue to work on finding ways to improve the work life of our employees via various people development and culture enhancement programs so that our workplace can keep being an inspiring and inclusive environment where people are valued, growth is encouraged and work-life balance is prioritized, making it a place for a fulfilling and long-term career.”