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Employee Engagement In Times Of Corona

Great Place to Work ® Institute India conducted conducted a survey to understand from organisations how they were keeping their employees engaged, and managing business continuity during COVID times where almost 200 organizations from employee strength ranging from ‘less than 500’ to ‘more than 50,000’ participated.

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The national lockdown in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic has resulted in organisations instituting the ‘work-from-home’ practice. This, in turn, has resulted in employees feeling there is no start or end time to their work day and they have to put in 11-hour work days in some instances. However, there are certain organisations that are looking beyond merely work. These organisations are invested in the well-being of their stakeholders and have created innovative ways to keep their employees engaged and healthy. Great Place to Work®? Institute, India conducted a survey to understand from organisations how they were keeping their employees engaged, and managing business continuity during COVID times where almost 200 organizations from employee strength ranging from ‘less than 500’ to ‘more than 50,000’ participated. These organizations represent more than 15 industries. Best practices are presented sector-wise.

Health Committee: To keep a check on the health of all employees and take timely decisions, Aye Finance has set up Aye Health Committee (AHC), also called CART — Covid Apex Response Team. The committee connects every day through video conferencing to take stock of the impact of the outbreak and Aye’s preparedness for the same. 

News Tutorials: The HR department has been sending tutorials to all the employees on symptoms and other important details of Covid-19 infection. 

Busting Myths: Every employee, through their online training module has been asked to take up a small learning test on Covid-19 to ensure that each of them are sensitised about the gravity of the situation and take adequate care.

Re-defining Care: In order to provide greater protection and care to high-risk employees like pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions (heart, respiratory issues, diabetes) and old people (> 70 years), a survey was launched where employees could declare their medical history. Further, employees could either contribute a day’s salary or any amount of their choice to this cause. 

Educating Beyond Employees: An organisation has made online modules to train customers through videos and chat on how they can use the services of the company online. 

Honouring Commitments: In spite of these challenging times, an organisation has decided to honour all commitments to its employees on their appraisal and salary hikes. 

Work From Home Vlogs: The senior management team of an organisation releases one vlog every day to all employees on their work-from-home philosophy and the fitness regime that they follow. 

Hello...Stay Connected: DHL Supply Chain India started a campaign called Hello...Stay Connected where the HR team members called all 1,900 employees across the country to check on their and their families’ health and well-being. A personalised mail thanking them for their contribution is also sent to all of them. This was done so that there is an increased sense of belongingness and this initiative has been highly appreciated by the employees. 

Supplying Essentials: Against the backdrop of the global Covid-19 outbreak, Blue Dart has mobilised its Business Contingency and Continuity Plan (BCCP), including pandemic operating plans, and is implementing appropriate preventive actions to ensure minimum disruption in their services. Their Quick Response Team is working 24x7 towards mitigating potential impacts while ensuring continuity of the supply chain across the nation. Their six 757 Boeing freighters are operating day and night delivering testing kits, reagents, enzymes, medical equipment (ventilators), N95 respirators and surgical masks, gloves, and other items requisitioned by state governments and healthcare organisations. They are continuously monitoring and responding to the various situational challenges keeping the interest of customers, employees, and the community paramount. 

Transparency in Communication: This organisation has ensured that they focus on internal communication. Regular mails are shared by the CEO and HR Head on the Covid-19 situation at large and its impact on their organisation. One of their values have been “transparency”, so they ensure that all kinds of updates and information are  shared with all team members.

They also have a dedicated mail id, HR4U, through which the HR team communicates to all team members on what precautions to  take, tips on how to work from home, exercises, on emotional well-being and stress, etc.

Real Heroes: Being a part of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, some of the employees at Agilent India are needed to visit their customer sites for installations, service, and repairs during these difficult times. Wherever possible, Agilent is resolving customer issues remotely by using virtual tools and technologies to minimise employee visits to customers. 

Global Pandemic Leave: Ciena has incorporated the Global Pandemic Leave. They want to ensure that an affected employee has the flexibility to fully rest and recover or serve as a caretaker without worrying about taking additional time off or using existing leave benefits. 

[email protected]: Learning never stops. The Learning and Development team at Infiniti Retail has made remarkable efforts for keeping employees engaged through their learning management system — The Base Station App. The [email protected] initiative for employees provides e-books, e-modules, recent trends, etc. to help employees leverage their time effectively. 

Health & Wellness: Businesses are at their best when their employees are at their best. Quess Corp strongly believes this, which is why they put together an exclusive health and wellness webinar session for all their employees from a qualified nutritionist and a certified fitness trainer.

Nudge of the Day: In order to keep employees motivated and engaged in these challenging times, Fractal Analytics has started a daily practice of sharing a ‘Nudge of the Day’. The nudge is a practice recommended to all Fractalites for that particular workday. Every nudge recommends a great way to make the most of the work-from=home situation. The nudges help people in navigating through their day while working remotely and also keeping intact their physical and emotional well-being.

We Care: At S&P Global, the health, safety, and wellness of team members is top priority. With the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, they have implemented various policies to support employees and their families during this unprecedented time. This is in addition to work-from-home arrangements and virtual meetings.

Global Vacation: Where vacation includes last year’s carryover leave which team members can use until December 31, 2020.

Global Care Leave (paid): To take care of a sick child or an elder for up to 10 business days. People can consult their manager or people partner if they need additional leave in case  someone in their family has contracted Covid-19. International medical and safety experts have been made available, offering health and wellness seminars for employees globally. In addition, virtual doctor/ tele doctor services are being provided.

In a situation where people were not able to log in to work, S&P Global made sure that they did not have to use their leave balance in this situation.

Radio Time: Most organisations are trying their best to stay connected and engaged digitally but it might happen that employees don’t feel the same level of motivation and connect as much as in a physical set-up. Vestige has undertaken a fun initiative to tackle this problem. They have launched their in-house Vestige Radio channel. It takes place on demand of the employees and has sections like bouts of motivation, Sochne ki Himmat, Muskurahatein, and the Vestige Helpline to keep everyone light-hearted.

Virtual Yoga: Building immunity and staying fit is as important as social distancing in the current situation. Which is why Great Place to Work® Institute has taken the initiative of daily virtual yoga sessions over Skype. We have started doing this every day for half an hour at 7 in the morning. The employees are free to join as per their will on either audio or video and the session is guided by our in-house fitness enthusiasts.

Quarantine for Domestic Help: Most of us, as part of the corporate world, have been working at home. At the same time, it is also necessary to think of our support staff at home who are risking their health to work for us. Thus, in line with our principle for Great Place to Work FOR ALL, Great Place to Work® is extending home quarantine for all domestic and personal workers of the employees as well. For any employees who face issues in paying salaries of their domestic help during these times, the organisation has also decided to grant the same for a period of three months.

Medical Care: In view of the current crisis, Gozoop has extended a specific Covid-19 medical insurance cover for all those employees who do not already have personal medical insurance. This insurance covers all expenses that an individual would face upon testing positive for Covid-19 and it is being extended to everyone across the hierarchy whether it is housekeeping personnel or the top executives.

Digital Hangouts: With a majority of employees never having worked from home and now being required to suddenly move to complete remote working, Amway felt a strong need to create office ‘break out zones’ or ‘hangout zones’ virtually where employees can unwind and connect. Digital Workspaces @ Amway is one such platform which was created as a virtual ‘hangout’ zone for their employees. This platform has employees sharing photographs of their ‘workstations’ at home, tips on balancing housework, family and professional commitments and just a place to have a casual unfiltered conversation. Digital employee engagement programmes like ‘Funtakshiri’, ‘Fastest Finger First’, ‘Throwback Thursday Photo Contest’ are also being run on a daily basis along with employee wellness activities like yoga, Zumba, aerobics and even meditation which see huge employee participation. Amway Studio, a live music jamming session by employees was a big hit with musically inclined employees performing for the rest of the workforce.

Connect and Online Sessions: SAS India has introduced novel ways to engage employees and support business during such uncertain times. HR and Admin team has connected with each employee to check their and their family’s well-being during Covid-19, introduced many virtual sessions to help employees manage their work and energy while working remotely, arranged multiple knowledge sharing sessions so that employees are productively engaged and the anxiety among employees is taken care of and they are able to focus on doing business remotely. It has introduced multiple, virtual sessions for sales staff on ‘key new normal practices’ that are introduced in current unprecedented times for ‘Doing Business During Covid-19’.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP): It can be stressful to read about coronavirus in the news, but it’s important to focus on what you can control. Confidential, short-term counselling services, and additional work and life resources are available with EAP partners.

Engagement Saturdays: For employees stranded alone and away from their families and native places, weekdays are relatively easier to spend as the days go by in official work, but the weekends are specifically more difficult to sail through. Daffodil Software and Unthinkable Solutions have both started initiatives to keep their employees engaged over the weekend. Every Saturday they share riddles and puzzles to solve over the weekend, recommend must-watch movies, latest series, books to read, recipes, etc. to their employees so that they have something to look forward and keep themselves occupied.

Happiness Challenge: To break the monotony of working remotely and make up for the lost human interactions, ESDS has devised various interesting social media challenges and contests which are helping them keep employees positively engaged. One of these is the ESDS Happiness Challenge where for two weeks, starting 1 April, a challenge is being shared with the employees each day and they are supposed to share pictures of themselves on social media completing that challenge. The challenges range from ‘master chefs’ and ‘time for fitness’ to ‘hobby indulging’ and ‘meditation’, among others.

Be a Celebrity: Amidst the global pandemic, while the employees across various departments of Automation Anywhere kept their programmes and processes running smoothly, their management realised that the lack of in-person social connect was the biggest concern for their people. Thus, they came up with various initiatives, one of those being ‘Cribs Automation Anywhere Remote Edition’. Adapted from one of the most trending TV shows on a music channel in the early 2000s, the employees can fulfil their celebrity dreams and create their own episode by shooting a video of their whole house, their favourite room, or the room they work in and share it with the organisation.

Storytelling Sessions: An organisation has started a daily storytelling session (“Once Upon a Time”) for the children of their employees so that they can work and attend important meetings — the employees have received this very well and there is a lot of excitement amongst their children who wait for the sessions every day.

Celebrating Virtually: In such a time of crisis, it is important to find happiness in the little things and keep our spirits up. RealPage India used to have a great celebration of Ugadi each year with its employees, which this year was done virtually due to the pandemic. They did not let the pomp and fervour of the festival subside. The employees shared pictures of their celebration with family and also mentioned how they celebrated the festival with minimum resources. Recipes of healthy and delectable dishes for the festival were also shared.

Health is Wealth: Health has been indeed one of the most basic needs of the people, yet in the current times having a simple health check-up done is an extremely stressful task. Keeping in mind Xanadu’s belief that it is critical to ensure that associates are engaged, motivated and positive and the undisputed fact that health is truly important, Xanadu has tied up with an online doctor consultation firm for its employees as well as their family members for almost all their health concerns including but not limited to queries related to Covid-19. 

Eradicating Hunger: This is the time to not just think of ourselves but of the entire society. While living in quarantine is relatively easier for many of us, there is a multitude of underprivileged out there who do not know how they would even manage their next meal. Sensitive to these needs, Lite Bite Foods is providing daily meals to thousands of underprivileged, daily wagers and stranded migrant labourers who have limited access to food during the 21-day lockdown.

Work from Home Championship: Amplus Energy believes that mental health works in tandem with physical health for overall wellbeing. Keeping this in mind, Amplus has launched the “Work from Home Championship”, a series of engagement activities practised digitally that will ensure that every employee feels connected.