PeopleFirst APAC 2021: Fostering a culture of belonging in a prolonged pandemic

Insights from people leader at Wildlife Reserves Singapore

PeopleFirst 2021_illustration


Conversation between Liza Chang, VP, People & Organisation Development at Wildlife Reserves Singapore (now known as Mandai Wildlife Group) and Nauveed Salim, Sales Director at EngageRocket


Liza Chang - WRS

Liza Chang

VP, People and Organisation Development

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Nauveed Salim

Sales Director

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Conversationa with leaders - WRS


Conversation summary


Many of us are continuing to struggle with the loss of the previous routine - travelling to work outside of home, physical interaction with our colleagues, getting easy access to technology and resources to stay productive, taking vacation time etc. Our feeling of belonging at work has become challenged over the past two years as we’ve shifted to relying on video calls and screen activities to stay connected. These shifts and changes are pushing employee well-being up the ladder of corporate priorities. 

How can we foster a positive culture of belonging among employees especially when no one knows exactly when this pandemic will end?

We had the opportunity to speak with Liza Chang, VP, People and Organisation Development at WRS during our PeopleFirst APAC 2021 event. She shared how the organisation is taking different initiatives to build a greater sense of belonging to thrive for 2022 and beyond.

Key learnings and best practices 


With the pandemic disrupting professional lives, what are the top HR priorities for 2022? How have these priorities changed since the pandemic?

  • Since the pandemic, the way to care for employees has changed. With a mix of staff members working remotely and onsite, they respond differently to the change where some need time to adapt, some lavish it while others need the presence of people around them.

  • According to EngageRocket’s NEXT survey results, caring for the well-being of staff came out as a priority. Shifting the focus for 2022, WRS came up with the Care-liphant program and put in place several initiatives to improve their employees' mental health and well-being.
    • Support employees who are faced with any financial difficulties with money donated by the board and staff members. HR will assess and provide them with a grant.
    • Provide an online counseling service for employees to speak with someone out of the organisation anonymously. This gives employees the platform to share their stress or emotional pressure comfortably and without any judgment with a stranger.




How can managers lead in a way that creates full engagement and commitment and how can HR support?


  • There is a need to nurture people managers. There are many managers out there but it is essential that they learn how to genuinely care for their team members. In order to prepare them to be great and successful people managers you can:

    • Start an executive coaching program to help and make managers become better leaders.

    • Pair up mentors and mentees and get them to reverse their roles. For example, a younger team member can be a reverse mentor to an older team member guiding them on the use of technology.



Conversation with leaders - WRS


How can organisations embark on a tedious exercise to rethink their employee value proposition (EVP) and why is it so important? 


  • The crafting of EVP can be done through a design-thinking process. By mapping out the customer journey ecosystem and engaging employees from different segments, you can crystalise areas that are of importance to the different personas of the staff segments. This will help to create statements that people will remember and one that truly reflects the core of who we are.
  • Employee engagement is important to provide solutions that are relevant, timely, and authentic which help us guide the approach in the work that we do.

One tip for leaders preparing their workforce for the post-COVID-19 recovery.


  • TLC. Establish TRUST with team members, demonstrate strong LEADERSHIP that will lift up the morale of team members during tough times, and show CARE for employees.

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