Employee Wellbeing and Navigating COVID-19


Employee Wellbeing & Navigating COVID-19

3 min read Jun 22, 2021

Wellness for Life

BeWell: Supporting Our Workforce Through Challenging Times

In recognition of the heightened mental and emotional well-being needs during the pandemic, we targeted our wellness efforts in 2020 to directly address the impact of COVID-19 on our people. Early in the pandemic, Latin America launched the PrimeroTuVida initiative, with regular communications through multiple channels, curated materials, webinars, and live-streamed fitness classes, among other activities. Shortly thereafter, we created BeWell as a global mental and emotional well-being program to convey a message of support and empathy for all of our employees through leadership engagement and outreach, virtual programs, and the provision of relevant resources and tools.

BeWell Wednesdays

In the U.S. and the MetLife Global Operations Support Center in India, we developed a curated collection of relevant resources for mental and emotional well-being on an interactive webpage of MetLife’s intranet.

In U.S. and Latin America, through collaborative HR efforts, we developed additional curated collections of resources specifically for parents and caregivers. We enhanced existing programs for our employees, including back-up caregiving support in the U.S.

Japan launched a campaign to encourage use of paid time off in which they highlighted messages about mental well-being and tied the time off to a corporate social responsibility activity (donations to a local organization).

Hong Kong SAR, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Egypt, Lebanon, and Ukraine joined the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Gulf, Australia, Brazil, and Japan in offering Employee Assistance Program benefits to employees offering support for health, mental, and emotional well-being (new countries and territories effective 1/1/2021).

Expanded Employee Benefits and Support—COVID-19

Adjusting to COVID-19

MetLife China extended health insurance coverages along with providing health and wellness support and access to PPE for all employees, while our Hong Kong Regional Office provided free flu vaccination and discounted vaccinations for dependents. In Nepal, we introduced a COVID-19 Care program with a third-party vendor to help employees and their family members access medical advice and other services to support them if diagnosed with COVID-19.

In EMEA, we launched SAFE (Stay at home, Act with care, Follow guidance, Everyone has a responsibility) to create an inclusive environment where safety, health, and welfare are central to all our actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We set up a virus response team and organized our efforts along three paths: proactive safety, reactive safety, and ongoing safety. All employees were provided with clear guidelines, and Safety Ambassadors were appointed to lead by example, start safety conversations, and highlight positive behavior. They were also provided with comprehensive communication toolkits and continual support in message distribution, helpful collateral, etc.

Our Kawasaki, Japan team is one of our bigger call centers in the world. After the onset of COVID-19, we moved swiftly to help a majority of our team begin working virtually. We developed information sessions on how to best work from home, balance childcare and work, etc., attracting large numbers of employee attendees.

One session, featuring a doctor from Share our Strength, attracted over 700 employees, a record number of attendees in comparison to in-person events. We surveyed them to better understand how MetLife could help them, whether they worked from home or in the office.

Partly catalyzed by the pandemic, we began evolving “smart working” as the future of the workplace in Latin America. We recognize that when people do begin returning to the office, the environment must provide them with more flexibility and digital access. Accordingly, we began using our learning and development tools and innovation strategies to develop a plan that offers our people the ability to do more work digitally and with more flexibility built into their days and locations. We also began training our sales force to work remotely into the future, given the higher success rate they were having without having to be tied to geographic locations.

In the U.S., we removed the cost share for telemedical/telemental health virtual visits through the end of the year and partnered with 2ndMD for a COVID-19 hotline for medical questions in addition to second-opinion services. Additionally, all MetLife employees and covered family members received cash protection through a MetLife Hospital Indemnity Insurance Program, at no cost, through the first quarter of 2021. We also permitted enrollment changes to Dependent Day Care flexible spending accounts to give parents the flexibility to change their contribution amount as day cares closed and reopened.

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