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Connecting 40 000 heads, hearts and hands in the time of Covid-19


12 countries. More than 12 million customers. Over 40 000 colleagues.

Imagine the performance challenge on a good day! Absa was facing a continent in lockdown, bare-knuckling against the unparalleled opponent of Covid-19.

As an essential service, in care of tens of thousands of people, Absa had to act. The objective was clear: Keep Absa colleagues, their families and communities, safe. Support colleagues physically, mentally and emotionally. Ensure they felt secure, heard and cared for! Flatten the curve and inspire others to do the same. Motivate every Absa colleague to get up, dress up and show up — camera ready or otherwise!

How do you mobilise over 40 000 people to keep delivering performance, above and beyond fear? How do you shift mindset from a survival to a thrive context, no matter the odds? How do we keep Absa people living into their boldest purpose of bringing possibility to life?


Crisis reveals character. As the world limbo-ed through frozen animation, Absa’s remote working team and TPA got to work on Thriving Remotely. A rapid, dynamic change piece that not only created awareness of the incredible change taking place but imparted critical knowledge to operate in the new landscape, stabilising the organisation and building the inherent capability of every individual Absa colleague to lead through change and THRIVE.

The piece consisted of a series of remote working toolkits that communicated guiding principles to ensure Absa colleagues across Africa remained healthy, connected, contributing and future ready. A four-week release readied in half the time.

Connection in a change landscape

Change is a cycle, not a flat line. The change piece anticipated what colleagues may be feeling and pre-empted the human response of fear and worry with the human response of compassion, honesty, practical and emotional support. Given the rate of change, Thriving Remotely strongly emphasised curiosity, communication and connection. Connection was key to maintain team alignment and offset isolation! Colleagues were encouraged to confront the new normal with deliberation and intention. To acknowledge their uncertainty but face change as a challenge. To nurture bravery, passion and readiness in a situation that truly called for it.

Collective commitment

Thriving Remotely toolkits communicated essential information, support and advice, from office protocol to online etiquette to ergonomics and wellbeing practices. Critically, they instilled autonomy, asking Absa colleagues to claim ownership of their contribution. It was up to every individual to make decisions today that would author the story of a collective tomorrow.

Leadership as difference

Absa knows that leadership matters disproportionately, so equipping leaders with the practical tools, support and emotional resilience to lead teams — that now looked very different! — was critical. Leaders received dedicated guides on how to navigate their journeys and take their teams through conversations that would ensure deep and meaningful connection. It’s only through people that we bring possibility to life!

Working with and for one another

Thriving Remotely was peppered with interactive forms that offered colleagues immediate feedback, useful guidance and customised reports. Symbiotically, this engagement provided a deeper understanding of the cross-continental, multicultural workforce, so that Absa could flex and respond suitably.



Unprecedented, as they say. Thriving Remotely was one of Absa’s most consumed pieces of people-support assets, reaching over 40 000 colleagues, with 10 214 downloads.

The authenticity of the work continues to create community in a remote landscape and fulfills a powerful intention of connection. It feeds a resilient culture. 60% of Absa colleagues continue to bring possibility to life directly from their homes (sometimes in their PJs).

Overwhelmingly, the feedback was incomparable: Absa colleagues never felt as if they were going through lockdown alone. One Absa united.

And more! As one of only six banks globally, Absa was awarded the Euromoney 2020 Excellence in Leadership in Africa Award, commending them for their outstanding, integrated response to the pandemic. Read all about it!

“It has been an absolute pleasure dealing with TPA. They go above and beyond and are always available to support. Their service is unparalleled compared to other providers in the professional services industry.”




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