The future of work is now: Prudential Singapore
COVID-19 has accelerated the ‘future of work’.
As organisations are forced to embrace remote working and explore ways to keep their physically distanced employees motivated due to the pandemic, life insurer Prudential Singapore (“Prudential”) is aiming to be ahead of the curve.
It began preparing its people – 1,300-plus employees and 5,000-plus financial consultants – for a fast-changing future nearly four years ago. This involved introducing forward-thinking initiatives such as flexi-working, which let employees work from anywhere and on their own time, supported by a company culture of empowerment and trust.
So, when COVID-19 hit, it was easy for them to acclimatise to the new ways of working.
“There are many things that we had started doing pre-pandemic, which I would say helped us respond a lot better than we would have been able to otherwise. Working from home is not a new concept for anyone who works in Prudential. Since 2017, a significant part of our focus was not about being present in the office, but about achieving outcomes for ourselves and for the organisation,” said Sheela Parakkal, Chief Human Resources Officer, Prudential Singapore.
Working from home is not a new concept for anyone who works in Prudential. Since 2017, a significant part of our focus was not about being present in the office, but about achieving outcomes for ourselves and for the organisation.” – Sheela Parakkal, Chief Human Resources Officer, Prudential Singapore.
The insurer also equipped its employees with the technology they needed to carry out their jobs with ease and agility, remotely.
“When the circuit breaker was announced in Singapore in April 2020, it was not just about making sure that people could work from home but ensuring that they were equipped to work effectively. All of the technical logistics happened seamlessly, because again, we’d been talking about working from home for a while.”
Investing in future skillsets, today
The insurer has also been preparing for the future of work by investing in upskilling and reskilling its people. This emphasis on ensuring people are well placed to take on the demands of the future closely ties into Prudential’s own purpose as a company – to help people get the most out of life.
Parakkal said, “A large part of the future of work narrative is around the capabilities that are required for the jobs of the future. In the financial services sector, there has been extensive work to address what some of these roles will look like, and the skillsets people will need to fill these roles.”
On its part, the insurer has collaborated with Ngee Ann Polytechnic to roll out courses on “Machine Learning for Humans” and “AI in Finance” – in-demand skillsets in the digital age, for all its employees. For its financial consultants (FCs), it rolled out a certification programme in partnership with the Institute of Banking & Finance (IBF) to enhance their advisory skills and knowledge, so they can serve Singaporeans’ growing need for more sophisticated insurance solutions.
Old is gold
It has also chosen to champion the cause of its senior workers – a growing demographic in Singapore.
It is no secret that Singapore’s population is ageing, and the future of work will see greater participation from seniors in the labour force. Prudential believes companies will benefit from leveraging their older employees as they prepare for the future.
Since 2018, it has allowed its employees to work beyond the retirement age should they wish to.
“We asked ourselves what we could do as a responsible employer to help, and it became very apparent to us that many of our senior colleagues who are in their 50s and 60s were wonderful role models with a richness of experience and knowledge. If they were willing to continue in their roles, and were performing well, and we could help them to achieve social and financial security, then why not?” said Parakkal.
In another progressive policy move, Prudential raised the Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rate for employees above the age of 55 in the following year, so they could save more to fund their extended years.
Helping employees get the most out of life
At the end of the day, it all comes down to putting the needs of the employees first in preparing for the future, explained Parakkal.
“I think it’s quite important for businesses to be clear where they’re headed and then be able to bring in the right resources to match the needs of their organisation. A big part of this entire move will only be possible if there’s an ongoing emphasis on getting employees to feel like they are in the driver’s seat. While we sit together and speak about the future of work, you’ve got to invite the employee into the conversation and create a level of awareness on what the future could potentially look like.”
So far, with its progressive policies and programmes, the insurer has been walking the talk in putting its people at the heart of its future of work game plan. Keeping up this employee-first focus as it navigates the coming times will ensure its success in the long term.