As employees, all we want is to be seen, acknowledged, be recognised and to be given equal opportunities for growth. However, over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has left some employees feeling disconnected, isolated and stunted in terms of career progression and knowledge acquisition.

Both employers and employees had to adjust to the new norms of working from home while simultaneously trying to balance maintaining employee productivity, and engagement and simply to keep morale up. This was no easy task for any company big or small, as working remotely in isolation was something completely new to most.

According to the Employee Movement and Retention Report 2021 that was released by the Employment Hero, some 36% of Malaysian employees left their jobs due to a lack of career progression. Meanwhile, 27% felt like there was a lack of appreciation and recognition from their employers for the job done remotely. Another 26% left due to a lack of training opportunities and growth.

While most companies were struggling to keep up with change and retain employees, one company has proven otherwise and showed that change is good if handled positively. That company is Liberty Insurance, who has proven this time and again with their excellent track record for employee engagement and growth, despite the challenges faced during the pandemic.

This dedication and passion to always put their employees first has recently won them the HR Asia Best Companies to work for in Asia 2021 award organised by Business Media International.

With over 45 years of providing comprehensive home, motor and SME insurance coverage to Malaysians, Liberty Insurance has never failed to prioritise the needs of both their customers and employees alike.

“We believe that the key to keeping employees happy and motivated at their workplace is inclusivity, equality and empowerment. These are the key factors that helps create an inclusive collaborative environment that can help everyone, and anyone thrive.

“This coupled with ongoing engagement activities, training opportunities, recognitions and development programmes will definitely keep employees satiated and eager to progress further in the company,” said Jackline Mariyam Pillai, head of talent and organisational capabilities at Liberty Insurance Bhd.

She added that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought on a lot of changes that have taught them so much and made them more agile in adapting to change and embracing new ways of connecting with each other, business partners and customers.

During the pandemic, Liberty made sure to continue practising their core values of inclusivity and empowerment by ensuring all their employees are well connected and kept in the loop. They were also given the chance to grow through innovative challenges and other training programmes.

“Even now, today, we have carried these experiences forward by implementing flexible working options and a continued emphasis on employee engagement. We leverage a purpose-driven way of working by emphasising in-person meetings or engagements when needed while also providing hybrid or virtual-only options to ensure inclusion of all employees.”

With over 30 years of experience in the general insurance industry, Jackline poured her expertise and knowledge into shaping her department at Liberty to stand out from the rest and she believes that inclusivity is key.

“At Liberty, we strongly believe in inclusivity and diversity and we actively recognise it. We appreciate the varied perspectives, backgrounds and cultural differences that all our employees bring as this would in return cultivate a healthier working environment and make the teams stronger.

“To walk the talk, we introduced the Liberty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council which aims to drive the inclusivity agenda across the organisation. Another key point to note is that we do not practise gender biasness or exclude people with disabilities here. We believe that inclusivity will only help us foster a place where people of all backgrounds can learn, live, work and grow their careers together.”

What Makes Employees Stay

There are a number of factors that keep employees loyal and wake up excited for work each day. Liberty’s approach to keeping spirits and morale high at work is by implementing unique key elements. The first would be to elevate employee experience by celebrating festivals to create a platform for bonding and an opportunity for employees to have fun in a casual environment while at the same time learning about the various cultures and beliefs.

“We also believe in celebrating milestones and successes of our employees by profiling and showcasing them just to let them know how valuable they are to us. Aside from this, we also keep employees engaged by always keeping them in the loop on the latest information and happenings either through town halls, newsletters and leaders connect series,” she said.

Next, Liberty also focuses on developing their employee’s skills by learning through innovative platforms such as board games, quizzes, gamification and also the LinkedIn e-learning platform. To enhance the learning process further and take it up a notch, Liberty also initiated the Accelerated Development Program for High Potential Talent to enhance employees’ understanding of the Liberty Business and to develop opportunities for career growth.

During the pandemic years, Liberty also ensured their employees grew through the Continuous Improvement Initiative where a total of 95 improvement initiatives were made and implemented. These changes helped simplified processes, improved automation and digitalisation, heightened customer experience and also saw the reduced use of papers as more paperwork goes digital.

The mental and physical wellbeing of all their employees are also taken very seriously as Liberty believes that healthy minds are what makes for a productive, safe and happy working environment.

As such, Liberty initiated the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that entitles all employees to ten counselling sessions a year to ensure those who need help can get it in a safe and professional space.

“This was more worrying during the pandemic where being isolated at home and working remotely in a silo can have detrimental effects both mentally and physically. So, to ensure our employees are in a healthy state of mind and physically active, we always try to stay connected to each and everyone while at the same time ensuring that we are here if they need any help. Our employee’s mental and physical wellbeing are really important to us,” she said.

Keeping Employees Engaged and Motivated with Awards and Recognitions

Liberty also never fails to recognise and reward great efforts as the company believes that recognition programmes are the best way to reward employees and keep them motivated for future challenges and self-improvement efforts in future.

“Our goal or recognition and reward is to strive for continuous improvement. We are constantly looking to change employee’s mindset to challenge the status quo by simplifying processes and innovations to make things better in their scope of work. This pushes them to push the boundaries and come up with innovative ideas or solutions for the betterment of the company,” said Jackline.

She further gave a few examples of the two recognition awards given out – Wondrous of Work (WOW) and the Chairman’s and President’s Award. WOW is aimed at recognising employees who perform exceptionally well in their respective divisions or departments while the other award is an annual global award given to both individuals and teams across Liberty Mutual Insurance’s Global Retail Markets.

The awards are usually awarded to those who have made an outstanding contribution in innovation, collaboration and in delivering best-in-class service not just within Malaysia but globally.

Liberating the Environment and Communities in Need

As part of empowering employees to be better people at work, home and society, Liberty takes the initiative by giving back to society and supporting other communities in need – Together We Rise. This charitable effort is done together with Liberty Mutual Insurance, which holds an annual global community service event where employees can volunteer to help a non-profit organisation within their respective communities.

In Malaysia, there is also a charitable arm of Liberty Insurance named Serve with Liberty where various charitable activities are carried out including recycling and other environmental based efforts.

In August 2022, the Liberty team participated in Urban River Cleaning at Sungai Kayu Ara in Ara Damansara where employees were seen in full force to participate in riverside cleaning, waste audit and also attended an upcycling workshop.

They also carried out a beach cleanup in Kota Bharu, Kuantan and Kuala Terengganu where employees learned how to care for beaches and the importance of keeping it clean.

Over at the Southern Region, Liberty also participated in the Sungai Project in Melaka, Batu Pahat and Johor Bahru where several coconut trees were planted at the beach and a whopping 45 kg of plastic bottles were collected in addition to 11 bags of mixed trash.

Not forgetting East Malaysia, where the team also did tree planting at the Kuching community park and beach cleanup at Lutong, Miri. Over in Sabah, tree planting activities were carried out at Pulau Li Hua in Sibu and also at various schools and community parks in Sabah.

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