With actions from the very beginning of the pandemic that exhibited agility, speed, and a deep breadth of care, Sun Life Asia Service Centre Philippines (Sun Life ASCP) made an unbearable year much more manageable for its employees and earns its deserving spot as one of Great Place to Work®’s Certified companies.
Guided by the preparedness of local management along with anticipatory recommendations from their corporate offices in Canada, Sun Life was steps ahead of everyone else, even before the government announced the nationwide lockdown. By late February, they had already announced mask-wearing reminders and hygiene guidelines to reduce transmission and had started asking some employees to work-from-home.
When the government announced the lockdown in mid-March, their Tech and Support teams were already working from home, and they set about the task of the work-from-home transition for their more than 500 Client Care employees. Having preemptively started to procure laptops in February in anticipation of ensuing guidelines, the mission of delivering office equipment and Wi-Fi dongles to all employees working from home was made easier.
At the onset of the pandemic, the company was cognizant towards the lack of means some employees faced and did not penalize staff who could not work-from-home due to their distance from the workplace or lack of connectivity. They still ensured that everyone was given their salaries and benefits despite being less productive during the affected months.
At the same time, Sun Life swiftly made a comprehensive shift towards virtual operations. Meetings, check-ins, interviews, onboarding, and orientations were calibrated onto digital platforms while a special HR Portal was created for employees to access information and announcements on activities easily.
They also launched Amber, a unique chatbot that initiates conversations with staff at certain employment milestones and analyzes their sentiments. This empowered the leadership team and managers to keep a close eye on employee concerns and challenges and make quick and precise actions to maintain their peoples’ welfare and well-being.
Financial concerns were thoughtfully addressed as the company realized the need for employees to store food and supplies at a time when mobility was limited. They released company incentives earlier than usual, along with a pro-rated 13th-month bonus to employees who did not qualify for the incentive, and added electricity and internet bill stipends as time went on.
With the necessities covered, Sun Life then doubled their efforts into their in-house Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides counseling on behavioral health, financial and legal aspects not only to the employees but also to their dependents, for free. Webinars on stress management, parenting workshops, and relationship management were also held monthly to further empower employees in handling challenging situations at home and at work.