Inside Malaysia Aviation Group’s employee well-being strategy

Psychological support has become essential amidst the pandemic

Inside Malaysia Aviation Group’s employee well-being strategy

As the air travel industry continues to be battered by COVID-19, Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) have chosen to invest on providing psychological well-being support for their 13,000 employees.

The global aviation organisation, which consists of national carrier Malaysia Airlines, Firefly, MASwings, MABkargo, and MAB Academy, is turning to behaviour science, data, and design to develop a digital well-being programme for staff.

MAG aims to help manage any uncertainties and anxiety surrounding the pandemic, even as they contend with the need to implement cost-cutting initiatives.

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released an updated global passenger forecast showing that global passenger traffic will not return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2024.

The forecast, coupled with an 80% to 94% cut in flights between April to August, MAG has suffered from a “major loss” in passenger revenue.

Like many other aviation companies worldwide, MAG had to resort to “hard” measures like deferring non-critical spending and implementing cost-cutting initiatives across the businesses.

Earlier this year, MAG offered employees the option of taking a solid three months of unpaid leave or five days of unpaid leave per month for three months beginning in April 2020. These were done to delay employee layoffs as much as possible.

READ MORE: Malaysia Airlines offers unpaid leave amid COVID-19

Focus on employee well-being
Times remain tough for the firm and while they work on managing business costs, leadership continues to focus on supporting employee well-being.

CEO Captain Izham Ismail told HRD that MAG laughed their employee assistance programme (EAP) way back in March 2020.

“[Our EAP] provide employees in Malaysia and at international stations with continuous communications and engagement to help them cope with the challenges of being in lockdown and working from home,” Ismail said.

READ MORE: Are you ready to embrace remote work?

The programme includes access to financial counselling and financial literacy courses besides offering tips to adapt to the new normal.

In July 2020, they enhanced the EAP with MHeart, a well-being digital platform by Naluri that promoted holistic care for ‘healthy mind, healthy body, and psychological health’.

The enhancement aimed to provide more “proactive support rather than reactive”, said the CEO.

While it’s common for employers to adopt EAPs, especially during difficult times like 2020’s pandemic, MAG’s initiative is proactive as it offers an early screening service.

The digital platform is currently hosted by about 50 experts including psychologists, fitness coaches and dieticians sourced by Naluri, which is an AI-augmented digital treatment program.

“We understand the importance of mental well-being and believe that early screening is important so intervention can be timely,” said Ismail.

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