Covid-19 has changed many aspects of our lives – in the way we work, we live, how we interact with each other. Since the onset of the pandemic, protecting the well-being of our employees and their families has been paramount. “Our primary concern and focus has been first on ensuring the health and safety of our employees and second on keeping the impact on our business and customers as limited as possible,” Riet Cadonau, Chairman and CEO, has said.
We sat down with Mirja Becker, SVP Group Human Resources to hear about how the company has worked to protect the health of our colleagues around the world.
Can you tell us about how the crisis organization was set up and the role of human resources?
Due to the dynamic situation in this crisis, with largely different local impacts, human resources representatives on country levels have played a critical role, helping to define early and thorough guidelines and precautionary measures to protect our employees. The HR Leads were appointed as single points of contact for all Covid-19 related matters within their segments. The HR and Operations Leads from every segment took part in the Group Crisis Taskforce (lead by the General Counsel) and held weekly alignment calls as the primary coordinating body, also exchanging best practice.
What kind of measures were put in place?
We issued global guidance for instance on travel restriction, provided employees with informational material on safety precautions and posters to remind everyone on hygiene and social distancing rules to avoid the spread of the virus. Masks were distributed and in some locations body temperature was checked. Protective shields and personal protective equipment for employees in the production lines, plus adaptations to shift plans, team-splitting and procedures to minimize personal contact were put into place. Our efforts paid off in that we had a relatively low number of infected employees worldwide so far, and we continue along this path.
In addition, “Tables for one” was the theme in our canteens, and there was frequent cleaning with disinfectant throughout the buildings. And, for example, when our large manufacturing facility in China was ramping up again as public transport was still not running – we arranged a “door-to-door” bus transfer for around 50 employees and their families from their hometowns.
How did the pandemic affect training and employee engagement initiatives?
On-site training shifted to webinars via our Learning Management System. To support the transition to home office, a toolbox was provided with a set of guidelines and suggestions on, for example, how to stay connected to your team, leading in a crisis, and information on IT infrastructure, hardware and software.
Transparent and frequent communication on related measures, stay-at-home policies or updates on local government responses was important to reassure and minimize fear. This open communication was appreciated, and it was not long before colleagues around the world started sharing pictures of their new work environment on our internal social media channel under the hashtag #onedormakaba – whether on-site in the production lines with plexiglass shields between stations or on-call providing customer service wearing personal protective equipment or in home office with the family pet in the background. The posts brought a sense of support, encouragement and community in these challenging times.