The world is reeling under the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries are trying everything possible to curtail the spread of this deadly virus and world economies are already facing the brunt of its impact on business. While most countries have urged their citizens to not travel unless urgent, practice social distancing, and work from home - how organizations are preparing to keep their employees safe while ensuring business is going as usual, is something worth commending.
Organizations from across the globe are responding to the unprecedented challenges that COVID-19 has created in multiple ways by trying to ensure business continuity while controlling costs and managing people. Managing employee experience during these tough times is also becoming a critical aspect of how organizations are navigating through this crisis.
Rohit Thakur, CHRO, Paytm talks to us about the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, how they dealt with the case of an employee that tested positive for COVID-19, how they are monitoring the situation and what steps they are taking to keep the impact to the minimum while ensuring their employees feel safe and secure.
Paytm was one of the first organizations to have a COVID-19 positive employee. How did you deal with the situation? What support did you offer to the employee? How did you ensure there was no panic in the workplace due to this?
We have to understand that the spread of Coronavirus is a global crisis. It has affected millions across the globe and a colleague of ours is, unfortunately, one of them. We took stringent measures and decided to shut our offices. Our first step was to communicate the decision clearly and directly to the employees.
Our organization was factual, authentic and transparent in our communication, so when we announced the work-from-home model, our teams appreciated the decision and jumped all in to make it successful."
Our organization was factual, authentic and transparent in our communication, so when we announced the work-from-home model, our teams appreciated the decision and jumped all in to make it successful. Questions and queries were answered by leaders and teams locally and centrally. All offices across the country have been sanitized, sterilized and fumigated as well. We were in constant touch with the family of the Corona affected employee to check on his health condition and offered full support to the family throughout the period he was hospitalized. We are glad that the employee has recovered & is discharged from the hospital now.
On a scale of 1-5 (5 being extreme, production getting halted and businesses facing losses), how do you perceive the current business situation in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis?
A global crisis of this level cannot be quantified. The company has switched to the work-from-home model and we are adapting to new ways of working using technology and collaboration tools. In fact, our colleagues are working harder as everyone understands the gravity of the situation.
What steps are you taking in dealing with this crisis situation?
Needless to say that all business travel has been canceled. We have made it mandatory to work from home for all our employees and are also frequently sharing WFH tips with them in order to promote efficient virtual collaboration and working.
With regards to health precautions, we are also constantly in touch with our panel of doctors and reaching out to them for expert guidance and any queries which our employees might have.
Our business continuity plan is activated and all employees are enabled to work from home remotely while ensuring there is no impact on our business."
We are encouraging employees to maximize the use of technology with tools like Ding Talk, Google Hangouts, Video Conference, etc. to collaborate virtually for meetings. Also, our business continuity plan is activated and all employees are enabled to work from home remotely while ensuring there is no impact on our business.
What policies and processes do you have in place for an infected employee or an employee whose family member(s) have been infected?
It goes without saying that every colleague of ours is important to us. We provide them with all possible assistance and ensure that they are well taken care of. Our comprehensive health benefits plan covers all eventualities for them and immediate family members.
Who is handling crisis management in your organization? Do you have a separate COVID-19 response team? What is the role of the team?
An Emergency Response Team (ERT) consisting of senior leaders from various departments of the organization is monitoring the situation closely so that we can share real-time advisory & appropriate precautions with our employees.
Do you think the outbreak of COVID-19 and the crisis is impacting this appraisal cycle?
We are a performance-driven organization and our appraisal process focuses on recognizing and rewarding people based on their performance. We are currently in the process of kickstarting our appraisal process as per our yearly timelines.
How can employees better prepare for this situation?
At this stage, we are urging our employees to take care of their health & safety as that is our topmost priority. Following our government's advice, staying at home and social distancing is key.