Corporate Wellness

6 Ways Companies Put Employees First During COVID-19

While a global pandemic begets professional risks like lay-offs, pay-cuts and more, some companies choose to acknowledge the service of their workforce and stand by them during this tough time. These five employers are cases in point.

By Debashruti Banerjee
03 Jan 2022

Although house-bound for nearly two years, most of us have hardly been idle. COVID-19 has only piled on top of our existing duties and concerns. With the world coming to a staggering halt, sustaining or finding new jobs have become increasingly difficult due to a variety of reasons. Some do not have the equipment to work from home, some are caregivers, some are ill一the list goes on. It is this scenario that demands a complete reinvention of the workplace. It is obvious that the post-pandemic world is not going to be “just like it used to be”. Rather, we are looking at a “new normal” world which needs to be shaped by the effects of a global pandemic. This includes the growing need of companies and employers to take into consideration the various needs of their employees, to accommodate their physical, mental and financial well-being.


A 2020 report in the Journal of Public Affairs says that “employee engagement has become one of the utmost prominent primacies for human resource managers and practitioners in organizations due to lockdown. Organizations nowadays are constantly developing innovative and effective means to engage the employees during this tough time”. Here are five such examples of such actionable service.


Related story: Six Easy Ways to Make Your Home Office More Productive


1. Giving employees the freedom to choose work mode

Dan Price, the CEO of USA-based financial services company Gravity Payments, rippled through every news outlet when he made the revolutionary decision to raise his employees’ minimum wage to 70,000 USD. Criticised heavily by many, he has only made profits since then. Now, he’s back again一and this time, he is standing up for the introverts. Price says that anti-remote work extroverted CEOs must take into consideration the potential of employees who might favour working in their personal space rather than a hyper-social environment. By simply asking his employees what they wanted, he let them work however they wanted (onsite, hybrid or from home). Price is no stranger to prioritising his employees’ needs, and this is just a step forward.


2. Extensive research to optimise employee experience

Called the largest research initiative of Microsoft history, the New Future of Work initiative began alongside the pandemic and continues to be a gargantuan cross-company research project aimed at making future offices “productive, accessible and humane”, says their official website. A synthesis of over 50 research projects of a variety of disciplines, this endeavour is hoped to highlight the challenges, hopes and concerns of employees all over the world in regards to office structures, remote/hybrid work and more. A proper academic attempt at bettering workplace practices and addressing employee concerns, that too from one of the biggest names in the business一the New Future of Work initiative is sure to leave its mark.


3. Nation-wide COVID-care facilities

The IT industry with the biggest hiring force in India, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is bound to pay attention to the impact of COVID-19 on its workforce. As per their array of COVID-care and Corporate Social Responsibility services, benefits include paid quarantine leaves, 24x7 help desks, 24x7 medical hotlines, counseling, health insurance as well as COVID-care centers across 11 cities in the country. Moreover, TCS continues to play a big part in various charitable, educational and digital programs to provide a much-needed helping hand to those in need.


4. Paid leave for caregiving employees

When it comes to COVID-response, Detroit-based Ally Financial has offered some very impressive benefits to its nearly 9000 employees. From quick transition to work-from-home, providing proper equipment and paid leave to high-risk individuals to creating a work plan geared towards better physical and mental health一Ally is doing it all. Not only are they providing financial assistance, medical insurance, and free diagnostic services, they also have avenues for free counseling, childcare support, paid leave for caregivers and interactive virtual modules to keep employees physically and mentally fit. Ally proves that providing support also means creating a connection, leading to successful teamwork.


5. Long-term compensation to the families of deceased employees

Textile giant Welspun India Limited announced in May, 2021 that it would introduce a slew of COVID-relief initiatives for the families of employees who have succumbed to the virus. They are to receive 50 per cent of the late employee’s salary for two years, a medical insurance of Rs. 5 lakhs, sponsorship of the education of two children until graduation and they are also to be considered for eligible jobs within the company. With nearly 5 lakh deaths due to coronavirus in India, Welspun sets a shining example in reducing some of the practical worries of grieving families.


6. Reduced work week and wellness packages

When it comes to comprehensive and accessible COVID response, Apollo Hospitals isn’t far behind. The multinational chain has provided 14 days quarantine leave, separate accommodation and free medication to all affected employees. Moreover, they have made provisions for health insurance and created the Apollo Kavach Program to provide round-the-clock consultation, mental health counseling and medical necessities to all. For their employees at URLife and Family Plan Health Limited (FHPL), a 2022 package promises benefits such as a reduced work week, a 24x7 helpdesk called HR Connect as well as Out Patient Benefit Coverage.


Related story: How to Be More Mindful at Work and Home


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