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Pls Extend HPB's WHP Grant to end of Mar 2016

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Dear most esteemed Prime Minister Mr. Lee, Minister of Health Mr. Gan and CEO HPB Mr. Zee, 

  1. Since the inception of Health Promotion Board (HPB)'s Workplace Health Promotion (WHP) grant, many companies have benefited from this prudent far sighted policy aimed at promoting health in the workplace. Since 65% of Singaporeans over 15 years of age are in the workforce and healthier employees cost less and are more productive at work, the grant helps reduce the burden of healthcare costs borne by the government. The objective measurable benefits are also apparent from the long list of award recipients from the Singapore Health Award (SHA) given once every 2 years, which requires every company receiving award to provide evidence of positive impact. 

  2. Some of the appreciative companies whom have benefited includes:

    Dairy Farm Group, with 1731 employees, have increased employee engagement activities towards healthier lifestyle, specifically in cholesterol level (refer to video from HR Director: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mIseYWiSCE). 

    Focus Network Agencies, distributor of premier chocolates under The Cocoa Tree with 253 employees, have seen percentage of employees who do not exercise drop from 56% to 48%, and medical costs and claims reducing a whooping 22% between 2010 to 2013.

    Elite Translation Asia, a local growing SME with 14 employees, have also achieved the Bronze award after benefiting from 2 years of WHP funding. The most notable improvement is employees putting effort to eat more fruits and vegetables from 8% to 83% after the launch of customised health programs (refer to video from Director: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjRDG3kARYw).

    These are just some of the many companies that have benefited from customised WHP programs in their workplace. There are definitely many more success stories to share.

  3. As both a consultancy and consultant dedicated to the promotion of employee well-being, we encountered many challenges in getting companies onboard at the start, but once they are onboard the benefits of the program usually speak for itself especially with objective tracking and monitoring of impact. 

  4. The reasons why companies, small to large, embark on this is that they concur and support the commitment of the government to invest into the health and well-being of each individual employee to the extent of 50% - 80% financial support. The most compelling reason is also that they are convinced the Singapore Government plans long-term and in HPB's marketing collaterals it presented an impression that funding is going to last at least 8 years across different stages from new comer to platinum award to help them kick start a Health & Wellness program whilst company work towards sustaining it. 

  5. However on the 28th September 2015, there was a briefing conducted by Mr. Sim Beng Khoon for existing WHP Consultants announcing the cessation of WHP funding as of 31st Oct 2015 at 12pm

  6. This was also followed up with an email notification to (some) corporates on 5th October 2015, which left all of our clients and the beneficiaries of the grant shocked. 

  7. What made it worse for the companies is the lack of detailed comparable alternative plans, as the only programs companies can tap on now are the National Steps Challenge and I Quit smoking cessation program. Whilst these are good programs, they are not applicable to the demographics of all companies, such as companies with blue collared workers with no smart phones.

  8. Which is also why the current structure of customising relevant programs for each participating company allows for positive change as the needs are different, as objectively demonstrated in the SHA application and award recipients. The proposed national programs are certainly not a comparable or better alternative from the company's perspective. 

  9. Whilst we understand the need for improving policies and nothing last forever, we are merely asking for a smoother transition when clear and detailed plans of a comparable or better alternative are provided so that is adequate information for the companies to plan. 

  10. Granted that there are no good time to roll out changes which we trust are for the better, the abrupt announcement of plans with drastic changes within 1 month and the lack of detailed plans as comparable or better alternative other than macro direction which serves little use in helping companies plan for relevant alternative does little justice to our pioneer generation whom have built up long standing reputation of Singapore government to be far-sighted, long-term, responsible and reliable. In our conversation with our MNC clients, they are definitely surprised by the drastic and abrupt handling of this matter, especially when WHP grant have been administrated more than a decade.

  11. Having said that, as an advocate of Corporate Health and Wellness, iGROW feels responsible to the 300 over companies we have helped since inception, more than 90 companies we are servicing, and the many more whom have benefited from the WHP grant to lead and champion this petition

  12. We are thus humbly writing this letter of appeal to you Dearest PM Mr. Lee, Minister of Health Mr. Gan and CEO HPB Mr. Zee, on behalf of iGROW's clients, and all the corporates & employees whom have benefited from your government's generosity, foresight and concern for each individual, for an extension of the funding to the end of the government FY (Mar 2016) because the duration of formal announcement of cessation is too short and abrupt for companies to react and plan. 

  13. An extension of the funding will provide more time:

    13.1. to reinforce Singapore's long standing reputation of responsible government who plans long-term, thanks to our pioneer generation, with the MNC clients whom have chosen to invest in Singapore and in the WHP Program.

    13.2. to companies who are finishing up their existing program to plan for another year whilst the comparable alternative plans are being finalized by HPB.

    13.3. to allow the many new corporate clients whom are considering starting a workplace health program for their staff to start with a customized WHP program relevant to their company's specific needs instead of a national program which may not always be relevant.

    13.4. for HPB to work out and release a detailed comparable or better alternative WHP program that are relevant & applicable to most companies instead of the current limited program such as National Steps Challenge, or Cluster Funding which may not be applicable to specific populations or geography. 

    13.5. for Companies to have clear visibility of what HPB's better alternative are so they can plan accordingly and fully support HPB's initiatives

  14. On behalf of all the responsible & dedicated WHP consultants & consultancies, champions of Corporate health & wellness, Companies small to large, Employees young and old whom have benefited from customised programs implemented in the workplace. we seek your immediate review and favourable reply to our appeal for extension of the WHP Grant to end of Financial Year (Mar 2016). 


We also strongly appeal to the people above who have benefited from the Workplace Health Programs to sign and support this petition!

Your's humbly and most sincerely,

Benedict Lim
CEO & Chief Psychologist
iGROW Group
www.iGROW.sg  



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