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As Great Eastern, we believe that the well-being of our stakeholders is important to us. The future of our business is inextricably linked to economic growth and an equitable society.

 

As a leading regional insurer, we actively play our part by investing in the communities and improving the well-being of our stakeholders. We hope our efforts can positively impact the lives of our next generation.

Living with COVID-19

The COVID-19 global pandemic has shown the key role companies can play in the community. This is aligned to our commitment to be a community partner in the societies in which we operate, and to deliver on societal impact beyond financial returns.

 

In 2020, our response to COVID-19 started with two key initiatives in Singapore – a S$1 million COVID-19 Customer Care Fund to support our clients, and a S$ 500,000 contribution to the Singapore Courage Fund and other local charities. It was followed by a series of initiatives across Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia to support our customers across our network.

 

Our key objectives – to protect the welfare of our customers and the communities-at-large by supporting national vaccination programmes that are key in the fight against the pandemic. 

 

We also set up a COVID-19 Deferment of Premium Payment Programme to help impacted customers in Singapore and Malaysia so that eligible policyholders could defer their regular premium payment. This is to ensure policyholders continue to have insurance protection despite being impacted by financial difficulties. 

GREAT COVID Care Plan 

 

 

 

In 2021, we launched the GREAT COVID Care Plan in Singapore to promote the national vaccination drive and provide a peace of mind for our customers. The Care Plan provided a cash payout when an individual is hospitalised due to COVID-19 after their vaccination. It provides worldwide coverage to include hospitalisation in Singapore as well as overseas. This offers comfort for individuals who have to travel and overseas residents during their home visits.

 

The GREAT COVID Care Plan complements the coverage provided by the S$1 million GREAT Vaccine Fund launched in January 2021. It is the latest support measure that Great Eastern has rolled out with the progression of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Singapore.

GREAT Vaccine Fund – supporting national vaccine programmes in Singapore and Malaysia

 

To mitigate the fear that customers might have towards vaccinations which were offered free in Singapore in January 2021, we set aside S$1 million in our GREAT Vaccine Fund to provide a daily hospital cash benefit of S$300 per day up to a maximum of 7 days, in the event any of our customers were hospitalised due to COVID-19 vaccinations. Coverage will be valid for three months from the first dose of any approved COVID-19 vaccines.

In March, we launched our RM1 million GREAT Vaccine Fund to provide hospitalisation coverage for customers in Malaysia.  An additional RM500,000 offering complimentary daily hospital cash benefits and death benefits was also set up for non-Great Eastern customers. In April, we launched a BND50,000 GREAT Vaccine Fund to provide hospitalization coverage for customers in Brunei. 

COVID-19 Medical Plan Coverage Programme

In Malaysia, we launched the COVID-19 Medical Plan Programme to provide RM20 million goodwill medical plan coverage on COVID-19 for all clients with an eligible medical plan.  

Employees

The health and well-being of our staff are important to us.  To strengthen pandemic resiliency in all our offices, workplace design parameters were updated to create a safe working environment. Remote and hybrid working arrangements have become the norm and are still in place in 2022. 

 

To promote the well-being and mental resilience of our staff during these challenging times, we created additional programmes and benefits to meet their changing needs.

·         Health and wellness activities are organised at Group level to promote staff engagement and participation. We encourage staff to actively manage their own individual well-being to ensure enduring impact and change.

·         In 2021, we launched a professional mental wellness consultation service for corporate employees in Singapore. The consultation service – a first in Singapore - is manned by specially-trained doctors and professionals.  

 

We continue to invest in people development for future-readiness through virtual learning events, programmes and resources. Read more about our People initiatives in the Human Capital section in our Annual Report 2021.

Making insurance accessible

Keeping insurance accessible and affordable for people from all walks of life is a key tenet of our sustainability strategy. This is why we make deliberate efforts to reach out to the under-privileged.

 

In 2021, we partnered with the Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC) to offer low-cost protection for parents who have children with special needs. One of the main concerns for parents of children with special needs is providing sufficient and on-going financial support for their loved ones. Combining insurance and trust can be a cost-effective way to provide children with special needs with essentials such as accommodation, daily living and medical costs.

 

To meet the needs of this special needs segment, we collaborated with Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC) to launch Great Eastern Cares Term Plan in November 2021. It is a simple life insurance plan providing death and terminal illness benefits, with affordability in mind. Parents of children with special needs can buy this plan and nominate the trust managed by SNTC as the beneficiary. Upon the demise of the parents, the funds in the Trust will be used to provide for the children with special needs such as accommodation, daily living and medical costs.

 

SNTC is a registered charity supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. They provide affordable trust services to assist individuals with special needs financially when their caregivers pass on.  

Client testimonial – Caring for our children, after we are gone

[My husband and I] have three children aged 5, 7 and 10. Two of them have autism.
We are both working and struggling to support our family of five. We have not planned for the long-term care of our children with special needs. Retirement planning is definitely not something we had thought of.
We deeply appreciate SNTC’s support in setting up two trust accounts for our children and also co-paid the premium of the Great Eastern Cares Term Plan. The affordable premium for the Great Eastern Cares Term Plan is a big plus. It is heartening to know our children will be cared for even when we are gone”.
- The Huangs, a client of SNTC 

Making the benefits of insurance scalable and affordable

We partner with the Singapore and Malaysia governments in national initiatives which support financial inclusivity.

 

In Singapore, we are now the sole provider of the revised national Dependent Protection Scheme (DPS).  The DPS is a term-life insurance scheme that would pay insured members and their families a lump sum should the insured meet an untimely death, or suffer from terminal illness or total permanent disability. There are currently 1.86 million DPS members contributing total inforced premiums of S$188.8 million.

 

The Government of Malaysia introduced the Perlindungan Tenang (PT) initiative in 2017 to expand social protection for the lower-income group. Protection plans with the PT label are designed to be affordable and easy to understand, with a convenient claims process.  As part of this initiative, Great Eastern Life Malaysia (GELM) offered EasyCare Plus in 2021, a product which provides affordable protection against loss of life and total permanent disability.

 

To ensure coverage for the vulnerable during the COVID-19, we launched two new products – the Great Life Gift and Great Prime Vantage. These plans do not require pre-enrolment medical checks – which was an important feature during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period in Malaysia last year. The products were also designed to include coverage for vulnerable segments such as people with disabilities, senior citizens and people who are medically impaired. To date, over 21,000 individuals have been covered under these plans. 

 

Great Eastern Takaful Berhad (GETB) has been supporting the B40 group via the mySalam  government scheme for three consecutive years.  We operated 142 manned kiosks at hospitals nationwide to assist eligible recipients of the financial assistance and conducted 16 outreach events, even during the MCO in 2021.

 

As of December 2021, GETB has disbursed over RM 123 million in mySalam claims to more than 150,000 eligible members of mySalam. GETB has also assisted the Malaysian government to disburse over RM 100 million in COVID-19 quarantine financial assistance to more than 200,000 eligible members of mySalam.

 

In October 2021, GETB launched MikroSayang - a microtakaful product aimed to provide easy, affordable and basic protection to the B40 & lower M40  segments. MikroSayang is a PT-approved product in Malaysia that offers takaful protection for events such as hospitalization, critical illness and accidental death.  For eligible B40 customers, they could purchase this product by redeeming the PT Vouchers (PTV) . This initiative is in line with the objective of promoting Financial Inclusion, an element of our sustainability approach pillar 2 in Improving People’s Lives which forms part of our Sustainability Approach.

 

Within 2 months of launch, MikroSayang has more than 10,000 customers, with customer base that grew more than 200% between November and December 2021.

The Malaysia Floods of December 2021

Torrential downpours in Peninsular Malaysia, resulted in floods affecting seven states across the country.

 

Government officials declared it an “once in a century” disaster. It caused over 50 deaths and affected over 125,000 people. Scientists and the media have cited this disaster as another example of extreme weather attributable to global climate change.

 

As part of the industry initiative, we responded quickly to expedite the claims process for policy holders who are insured against flood damages. This initiative also included offering restructuring of premium payment modes and extension of grace period for payment to help alleviate the financial pressure on policyholders. 

 

We also contributed to the industry Flood Relief Fund to support the adversely affected motoring community during these difficult times.  

Giving back to our community  

In Singapore, our employees and financial representatives raised funds to plant 1,429 trees in support of the National Parks Board’s One Million Trees movement to bring nature back into the city. We have collaborated with Zero Waste SG, a charity and non-governmental organisation, to raise environmental awareness to secondary school students in 2022 through their Sustainable Schools Programme.

 

To help youths acquire an early understanding on basic financial planning, we separately partnered with Junior Achievement to conduct basic financial education workshops for over 900 secondary school students since October 2021.

 

We continued to support causes for women through Great Eastern Women’s Run, and donated over S$101,000 to Breast Cancer Foundation and Daughters Of Tomorrow to help women with breast cancer and underprivileged women in society achieve financial independence. Please see page 42 in our Annual Report 2021 for more details.

 

In Malaysia and Indonesia, we made donations to support the vulnerable impacted by COVID-19.  We provided essential items and computers so that students could participate in online lessons.  In Indonesia, we held a financial literacy webinar for over 100 students, lecturers and employees in June 2021, at an annual event to support the Indonesian Financial Services Authority programme to educate the wider community on insurance.

Great Eastern Supremacy Scholarship Awards – Sharing with the community

Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Berhad (‘GELM’) continues to play an active role in corporate citizenship to make life great for the less privileged and the community at large.  The Great Eastern Supremacy Scholarship Award is one of the leading programmes in the insurance industry.  Every year since 1998, we offer this scholarship where close to 200 deserving, talented, young Malaysians can pursue their dreams.

 

In 2021, the Great Eastern Supremacy Scholarship Award was re-positioned with a focus to provide education opportunities to youths from the lower income group.  A total of eight scholarships - amounting to RM412,500 - were awarded under Scholarship 2021. 

 

 “I am honoured to be a recipient of this scholarship. This scholarship frees me from my financial concerns and I can focus on my studies to secure better grades. It motivates me to persist, no matter how difficult it can be.

 

The scholarship has reduced a lot of my parents’ financial problems – they don’t have to worry about my tuition and accommodation fees in Kuala Lumpur anymore. I am deeply appreciative for the support. Thank you, Great Eastern!”

 

- Teo En Wei (Bachelor of Science Statistic, University of Malaya)

Creating a safe and progressive environment for our employees and financial representatives

Right people

 

We value our employees and care for their health, well-being and career development. We invest heavily in building an engaged work environment that fosters synergies amongst our employees and provide ample opportunities for the discovery and development of diverse strengths and abilities.

 

We strive to be an employer of choice with an environment where all employees are presented with equal opportunities and equipped with relevant skills to do their best for all our stakeholders. We achieve this through policies and programmes such as:

 

Diversity and Inclusion

 

We are committed to adopt fair and progressive workplace practices for all employees regardless of their nationalities, races, genders and ages. Equal opportunities are presented to all employees in their work assignments, personal development, and progress within the organisation.

 

Learning and Development – keeping the workforce FutureReady

 

We believe in the constant development of our employees to ensure that they are equipped with relevant skills to contribute to our business model. Our training and development programmes are designed based on our FutureReady Framework. 

 

In 2021, a month-long #FutureReady Virtual Learning Carnival was organised to reach all employees across our network. A series of 16 webinars focused on the seven pillars in our internal FutureReady Framework. 

 

Sustainability is a key priority in our company strategy. To promote employee education and engagement, we have also organised regular sustainability workshops and e-learning modules, and created fun activities to promote sustainability in our everyday.

 

Close to 100% of our employees participated in workshops and completed the e-learning modules. Originally designed as a pilot programme in Singapore, these initiatives would be progressively rolled out across our offices in the network.

 

To develop our internal talent pool for the evolving job roles of the future, we partnered with The Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF) to upskill our employees. To cite an example – the Operations team planned to transform the Service Centre into a one-stop resolution centre for policyholders and financial representatives. It is a step up from the basic function of enquires management and it required upskilling of the Customer Service Officers (CSO).  

 

The IBF’s Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) was well-received by the team as it allowed them to learn and grow. By December 2021, 15 participants had completed their training.

 

In Singapore, we clinched the “Inspire Award” by the IBF in January 2021. It is a testament to our commitment and progress in both workforce transformation and skills development across the organisation.

Pivoting into a new career with the right training 

“This is a good initiative from the organisation – I have gained new knowledge and am glad to be part of the programme,” she shared.   

 

“PCP has provided me with insights into the role of a Life Claim Assessor. I find it personally fulfilling to ensure that we pay the claimant correctly and in a timely manner. This could be important to some customers in these extraordinary times.”

 

- Josephine Yeo, Manager of Life Claims and a participant of PCP, has completed her training and transitioned to her newly expanded CSO role.

Culture and Workplace

We believe in involving all employees to build a customer-oriented culture. We do this by fostering innovation and collaboration across the entire network.

 

An interactive session entitled “In Conversation with Leaders – You, Me & Culture (ICWL)” was organised to help employees visualise how practising the company’s core values and associated behaviours can help them realise greater meaning and purpose in their work and their career with the organisation. 

In Malaysia, leaders shared how they practiced the core values despite volatility and disruptions in the business environment. These sessions catalysed further conversations on how everyone can contribute to a more conducive and effective working environment.

 

Even before COVID-19, we had started piloting flexi-work arrangements and hybrid working models. We are currently exploring ideas in workspace redesign to test a new ‘future mode of work’ for our employees.

 

In 2021, 60% of Singapore’s workforce has relocated to a newly refurbished office at Great Eastern @ Changi. The design of this office is focused on three key design principles: (i) To minimise virus transmission through hygiene practices and/or rapid contact tracing capabilities, (ii) The ability to separate office zones for containment, and (iii) the agile and flexible workspaces that can quickly toggle between “pandemic on” and “steady state” scenarios.

 

These design principles would be used as the baseline for workspace redesign and would be rolled out to other offices progressively in the future.

 

Our flexi-work arrangements such as staggered working hours and a hybrid working model have been in place where operationally feasible, and have better supported employees in managing their work-life commitments.

 

With a strong focus on health and wellness, we created initiatives to support employees in their health and wellness journey. In Singapore, we organised webinars on finance, mental wellness and health challenges.

 

In Malaysia, we participated in the Activ@Work Challenge by PERKESO – a 3-month steps challenge to encourage employees to stay active even while working from home.

 

Great Eastern Life Indonesia organised a Mental Health Series and collaborated with WeGrow, an advocate of green living. 30 employees each received an eco-friendly planting tool kit which comprises a shovel, a planting tray, a guidebook and seeds of plants such as kale, bean, telang tea, chili, spinach and sunflower. Such gardening activities allowed our employees to bond with each other while keeping productive and engaged, when they are working from home.

How flexible working makes lives better

“I really appreciate the flexibility the organisation provides, especially as a working mother.  By starting work at 7:30am and leaving as early as 4:15pm, it allows me the flexibility to develop my career and accommodate to my family’s needs”

 

- Chong Wan Leng, Appointed Actuary of Great Eastern General Malaysia, shares how staggered working hours helps her to find more meaning in her career journey.

24/7 support for mental health – whenever and however you may need it

In a collaboration with Doctor Anywhere (DA), a professional mental wellness consultation service was launched for employees in Singapore. The service, a first in Singapore for corporate employees, is manned by specially-trained doctors and professionals, and all calls are private and confidential.

 

No case information will be provided to the company. Employees are encouraged to utilise this service as needed as mental wellness is important for a healthy and productive life.

Financial Representatives

Financial representatives are our key partners as they provide financial advice and recommend suitable products to our customers.

 

To support their journey in sustainable investing, we formalised ESG training and regular learning sessions on sustainable investments. The aim is to share how sustainable investment can create enduring positive impact while achieving investment objectives, and how they can help clients tailor their product selections to meet personal goals.

 

The topics include:

 

•          Key communication and education as we expand our suite of sustainability-linked ILP offerings

•          Awareness-building for both clients and agencies through monthly client webinars

•          Product training for all representatives and foundation classes for new joiners

•          Advanced workshops for experienced financial representatives to include ESG Investment-linked Funds (ILP) in their fund recommendation

•          Having senior management address the topic of sustainable investing during key agency events

•          Inviting fund houses to provide fund updates, including sustainability-linked funds

Innovations to facilitate access and enhance customer experience

 

It is important that our policyholders and potential customers find it easy to obtain information and interact with us at all times.  We aim to offer a great customer journey in both digital and in-person experiences.

 

We believe that technology can help enhance our service capabilities to meet our customers’ lifestyles and business needs.

 

In 2021, we continue to build on our digital capability to deliver a better customer experience. The launch of the mobile GE Application offers a more seamless on-boarding journey for our customer via API linkages to Myinfo and the Singpass log-ins. The suite of self-help services were enhanced to cater for more online submissions, such as investment-linked applications and personal accident claims.

 

We are committed to building a service culture guided by our mission statement. We stay focused on training and equipping our people with knowledge and skills. 

 

In the Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore Survey conducted by the Institute of Service Excellence (Singapore Management University), Great Eastern continues to top the life insurance category consecutively for the 4rd consecutive year in 2021. We are proud to have 60 Excellent Service Award winners this year; with more than half of the awardees receiving the highest awards in the Star Category.

Continuous learning to support our clients’ needs

“The training is useful as they expand my knowledge into ESG and climate investing. I had once invited a client to a sustainable investing webinar hosted by one of our fund managers. The client decided to make an investment as she felt comfortable learning from the industry experts. 

 

This is important for beginner investors and I wish we can explore more in this space.”

 

- Li Jing, Senior Financial Planner

 

 

 “I like the new WhatsApp functionality from Customer Service. It allowed me to carry on with my work and meetings without worrying about missing the call from Customer Service team. The response was prompt and it allowed me to service my client better. Thank you for helping me do my job better!”

 

- Eileen Soon, GEL Financial Representative

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