As the country works to beat the overwhelming second wave of COVID-19 this summer, organisations have been quick to recognise their role not just in contributing to the relief efforts across the country but also in supporting and safeguarding their own employees at this time. With life-saving medicines, supplies and oxygen running out, and with citizens across the country scrambling to find hospital beds, India Inc. has rolled up its sleeves and has displayed its compassionate side in numerous ways. From helping employees with hospitalisation and treatment costs to setting up COVID care centres, these companies are going an extra mile to look after their employees’ well-being during this second deadly wave.
Some organisations have also pledged to look after the dependants of employees who lose their lives to the disease. Earlier this month, Borosil Ltd announced that the families of employees who lose their lives to COVID-19 will be given two years’ salary and their children’s education will be covered till graduation by the company. The company’s MD Shreevar Kheruka made the announcement on Twitter, stating that Borosil’s real assets are their employees and paying his respects to four employees that passed away recently after succumbing to the coronavirus. The company joins a list of several other organisations across the board that have been quick to recognise that employee welfare is critical during this humanitarian crisis. Another similar example was set by textile manufacturer RSWM Ltd. The company’s Managing Director, Brij Sharma announced on social media that the company will pay 50% of monthly salary to the family of an employee who loses his life due to COVID-19 for the next two years, while also contribute some part for the education of the employee’s children for the next three years and provide medical coverage to the family for three years, among other things.
Putting employee safety first
Indian conglomerate, Godrej too has undertaken a number of initiatives for the employees to heal during these testing times across its businesses. Godrej Properties recently announced a three day break for their teams to recuperate emotionally. Godrej Consumer Products is also giving a mandatory day off once a month to its employees to recharge and reset. “We shifted to remote work for all our office-based team members well before it was mandated by governments. As a precautionary measure, we have asked our sales team members in India to work from home too, and are leveraging technology to manage different aspects of our systems and engage with partners,” says Rahul Gama, Head - HR, Godrej Consumer Products. In addition, the company is also providing COVID-19 medical insurance and life insurance for its extended workforce including salesmen on distributor rolls, CFAs, drivers and computer operators. The emphasis on safety is in fact also echoed by other company leaders and HR heads. “At Crompton, we stuck to our belief that people come first,” states Satyajit Mohanty – Vice President – HR, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals Limited, while explaining that the company is taking great care to ensure safety of people through its implementation of safety protocol for employees across the board.
Companies like OYO are in fact going the extra mile by covering costs for tests, medical equipment and medication for employees. An OYO spokesperson tells us, “We’re offering home care/home quarantine in COVID positive cases through the company’s insurance policy up to Rs 25,000 per family. Our policy also includes reimbursement for RT-PCR test, pulse oximeter and thermal scanner, oxygen charges, FDA certified medicines, masks and gloves, PPE kits, etc.” With WFH being the new norm and with isolation becoming a necessity for those who test positive, corporate firms are identifying ways to help employees recuperate while ensuring COVID norms are maintained. Take for example, e-learning platform upGrad that has partnered with five-star hotel properties to provide accommodation and created ‘Temporary Safe Workplace Bubbles’ for employees who were staying in rented accommodation or who returned to Mumbai to re-join the office. “upGrad is evaluating the COVID situation on a daily basis, and as the second wave intensifies, our utmost priority is the safety and comfort of our employees along with ensuring that they are mentally and emotionally at the right place in their lives,” explains Arjun Mohan, CEO - India, upGrad.
Given the grim reality, much like Borosil, several other companies are also putting in place policies in the event of an employee’s untimely demise on account of the pandemic. “The company will extend the following support to a deceased employee’s family: 50% of monthly salary for two years as living allowance; medical insurance for family (spouse and two kids) of Rs 5 lakh for 10 years; education fees for two kids up to graduation; consider spouse/children for suitable job roles based on company’s policy as per requisite qualification and skills,” says Kaustubh Sonalkar, Group CHRO, Welspun Group.
Ramping up relief efforts
Pharmaceutical company Mankind Pharma has developed a 700 bed facility in Gurgaon Civil lines for anyone who needs emergency care and is ensuring its Mediclaim policy covers all employees who need medical help during the pandemic. Joy Chatterjee, General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Mankind Pharma shares, “Mankind Pharma works on three principles – people, product and process and in these tough times, we are ensuring our employees are safely working remotely and we offer support to those in need to promote positive mental health amongst employees.”
Many organisations are going beyond just vaccination and ensuring mental health for their employees – they are also assisting in finding medical care, hospital beds, quarantine facilities and providing home-cooked meals for their affected staff. Consumer goods company, Marico too has created a COVID war room for employees that need emergency help, including sourcing hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and concentrators, medicines and plasma. “Our employees have time and time again proven to be the backbone of our organisation. As the second wave of COVID-19 is on the rise, we continue to keep people at the centre of all our critical business decisions,” says Amit Prakash, CHRO, Marico Limited. Online automobile marketplace, Droom too has set aside a budget of Rs 1 crore to support employees and dealers during these times. It has also set up a SWAT team to verify all leads regarding oxygen supply, hospital beds, food suppliers, plasma donors, and COVID-related life-saving drugs.
All hands on deck
Aside from employers, employees are also rallying in support of each other during these trying times, helping arrange essentials and medication for those in need. “During the pandemic, last year, we started Trust@CARS24 with a commitment to help those employees who needed financial assistance for any medical purposes. This year, our employees have stepped forward to donate funds to Trust@CARS24,” says Kunal Mundra, CEO, Cars India, CARS24 detailing the efforts the brand’s staff are making to reach out to each other. “Our employees have come together and created a special team to provide drivers and logistics support in 25 cities for their colleagues, who need to procure essentials and oxygen cylinders, etc.,” he adds.
Omnichannel platform Fynd too has placed employee welfare at the top of its priority list, adding that it is an important element of its culture. Farooq Adam, co-founder of Fynd explains how the company is taking steps to ensure physical, mental and emotional well-being of its staff during the deadly second wave. He says, “We are utilising all our resources to ensure our people and their families have access to treatment in case of COVID. We went ahead and doubled our medical insurance coverage and have assured interest-free loans for those who need further help in covering medical treatments. We have also implemented 4X CTC as term insurance to ensure families are financially safe in case of a sudden loss.”