COVID-19 second wave: How corporates dealt with it?
The second wave of coronavirus in India has shaken the country with thousands of deaths recorded in the month of April and May. The large number of coronavirus cases witnessed during the peak have wreaked havoc in terms of both economic fallout and societal impact. Almost every Indian family has been struck with the grief of losing close ones to the virus. As cases peaked, people faced challenges in finding emergency drugs, hospital beds and financial help. The second wave followed by a lockdown and larger health emergency has resulted in a massive impact on people’s mental health as well.
At the beginning of 2021, with a lower number of cases and announcements on the vaccination drive, there was a positive forecast for the corporate sector as offices were planning to open up from the month of June, but then the second wave struck and all the progress made in the earlier months was lost with another round of stringent lockdowns. From small-scale enterprises to multinational companies, everyone has faced a similar challenge of keeping the business running in spite of the fall in demand due to the pandemic. While the peak of the second wave is over, there is already apprehension around the upcoming third wave.
However, let’s take a look at the ways corporations dealt with challenges and managed the crisis situation.
Providing Medical Resources
As people suffered personal loss, the companies have come forward in the support of their employees in numerous ways. Corporates lent a helping hand as the country faced its toughest battle with the coronavirus. The initiatives in the form of testing facilities, supply of oxygen concentrators and cylinders, setting up of vaccination camps, providing financial aid, medical aid and access to resources for COVID-19 care turned out to be a huge contribution for the people.
As the capital witnessed a shortage of beds in hospitals among other Indian cities, corporates came forward to set up make-shift Covid centers with basic resources required for the treatment of not-so-severe Covid-19 cases and required only oxygen supply. We have seen mushrooming of numerous free food delivery services being introduced by small businesses. They delivered free meals to COVID-19 patients throughout their recovery.
Financial Aid and Insurance Covers
In terms of financial aid, companies have been empathetic towards their employees and provided them with advanced salaries for the treatment of their family members. Employers provided relief to COVID-19 positive patients by changing their leave policy and tweaking the medical insurance to cover the expense of COVID-19 treatment as well. Many of these policies covered the dependent family members of the employees as well. In case of families losing the breadwinner of their families, the responsibility of the education of their children has been taken care of by the organization.
Focus on Mental Health
As people battled collective grief and loss, the impact on mental health was taken into consideration and online consultations and employee engagement programs were introduced as well. It is vital to support employees and provide them with the necessary resources as they deal with the trauma. Therefore, companies have formulated a combination of financial, emotional and mental support systems for the employees in the time of crisis.
As the crisis is still not over, we need to remain prepared for whatever the future holds for us. At present, the focus among companies is to undertake massive vaccination drives to inoculate employees and their family members. Furthermore, we will be emphasizing employee engagement programs. The crisis has made us realize the importance of being flexible whenever the situation demands it. Organizations have reinvented their policies to accommodate new and rapidly emerging needs and shall continue to do so in the future.