"How organisations treat their employees will be remembered for years to come, and how businesses respond will have a lasting impact on employee behaviour including, engagement, productivity and loyalty," says Cally Wu, Vice President of Corporate HR, Asia Pacific, Eaton. In this exclusive, she shares ideas examples of initiatives organisations can implement in three key areas - wellbeing, safety, and business continuity; supporting key stakeholders; and supporting the wider community. 

The COVID-19 crisis has now reached a new critical phase where public health systems need to act decisively to contain the growth in new epicenters. The virus has infected more than 22.5mn people around the world and killed at least 790,028, according to data compiled by The New York Times. While some countries are still fighting the virus, there are others who are beginning to reopen. Governments are constantly looking into the implementation of measures specific to their countries as they navigate how to control, contain and cautiously lift restrictions.

With every industry adapting to life during and post-pandemic, new regulations being put in place have forced organisations to shut down their offices and mandate remote working. Businesses must learn to adapt for continuity.

Ensure employee wellbeing, safety and business continuity

Maintaining business continuity while protecting and keeping all employees safe and healthy has become the most crucial of tasks. During a crisis, companies around the world across multiple sectors must recognise that internal stakeholders should always be a priority and that it is paramount to ensure employees’ welfare, safety, and well-being are taken care of.

At Eaton, we are committed to this responsibility and have instilled enhanced measures in compliance with government directives. Despite the temporary shut-down of factories around the world, we managed to maintain partial operations, ensuring minimum health risks for our employees. Our electrical equipment helps hospitals and data centres function while our industrial products keep transportation systems running. In addition, new measures have been put in place to ensure business continuity – this includes being flexible with work arrangements, implementing strict safe distancing measures, staggered working hours, regular disinfection of workplace, and many more.

Aside from the physicality of things, the sudden influx of changes and adaptation that employees have to undergo can lead to confusion, stress, panic, and other emotions. The pandemic has increased people’s fear and stress levels, which can have fatal consequences.

How organisations treat their employees will be remembered for years to come, and how businesses respond will have a lasting impact on employee behaviour including, engagement, productivity and loyalty.

Health and well-being, financial stability, and job security are top concerns for employees right now and employers can help address those fears in meaningful ways. This can be done through frequent sharing of updates on what the company has done, is doing and will continue to do via email newsletters or regular townhall sessions with senior executives from the organisation.

Recently, Eaton launched the APAC Employee Assistance Program to help employees cope with mental and emotional well-being. The program provides a platform for employees to gain confidential access to professional care, self-help programs, interactive tools and educational resources.

Provide continuous and proactive support to all partners and stakeholders

To keep business disruption to the minimal, organisations ought to play a proactive role in communicating and supporting their partners and stakeholders. Active communication is key to managing the situation especially in understanding their needs, concerns and give them a sense of stability and surety. Continue to provide support to the partners by ensuring they are operating within government directives and giving a helping hand should they be facing any difficulties. A check-in is always much appreciated in such challenging times while working hand-in-hand to keep operations going.

For example, Eaton China supported its key plastic supplier in resuming production by helping to facilitate its check for compliance and execution of COVID-19 control. Meanwhile, when one of its suppliers was encountering a lack of essential epidemic prevention supplies, Eaton lent a hand to prevent its supplier’s manufacturing facilities from being shut done.

Be committed to supporting the wider communities in need

Help yourself by helping others — One way to do so is by working with local governments to contribute efforts and resources to support communities in need.

For instance, during the early outbreak of the pandemic, Eaton and its electrical partners and distributors came together to provide power solutions for two new field hospitals in Wuhan that were constructed in just 10 days. Speed, efficiency and reliability were of utmost importance with the virus fast spreading across many cities. With the help and collaboration of several organisations, the two hospitals were built and ready to take in patients infected with COVID-19.

We are also seeing many organisations stepping up to provide their expertise such as the creation of tools and platforms using big data to track COVID-19 cases. This includes Microsoft’s contact tracing app that was newly launched in Japan in June and Eaton’s real-time interactive dashboard that helps the Indian government and state police track and monitor COVID-19 cases and quarantine centres in Puducherry, India.

As a global corporation, Eaton is committed to responsibly supporting our communities and the society at large. 

In this spirit, Eaton launched a new, enhanced employee match program (2:1 to any donation our employees made) in all its facilities globally, that designed to direct funding to where it’s needed most.

The funds have been channelled to groups and organisations delivering medical services, relief supplies and support services in the communities. For instance, Eaton Philippines site contributed 4,000 pcs of 3M N95 masks to the local community to help alleviate its PPE shortage.

What’s next?

With the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important for organisations to continue monitoring the fluid situation and navigate through the crisis by assessing and reacting fast while taking care of both internal and external stakeholders. We really appreciate the hard work from HR, Corporate Communications, EHS, Business Unites and every single contribution from our employees within the organisation. And as we reimagine the new normal, it’s necessary for organisations to continue to explore ways to support the business in adjusting and envisaging any possible shifts in the industry as the world continues to fight against the virus.

Photo / provided

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