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We are with you – How organisations are reassuring their workforce in crisis times

Companies are stepping up in many ways to help their employees tackle this difficult period. The Advertising and Media industry, which is highly oriented around a talented and skilled workforce, is also easing pressures and allowing the workforce a moment of respite in these difficult times.

Adgully has curated a thought leadership seminar as part of our Adgully4um Knowledge Series to highlight initiatives taken up by companies working in advertising and media to protect its biggest resources – its people.

The webinar held on Friday was on the topic ‘Manpower Resources: How the A&M industry needs to show its humane face’. Joining in the discussions were:

Kavita Dasan, Vice President - HR, ABP Network

Neha Kulwal, Country Manager Admitad India

Pritha Mitra Dasgupta, Senior Director, Marketing & Communications, Mediabrands India

Rita Verma, EVP & Head – HR, DDB Mudra Group

Roopa Badrinath, Chief Talent Officer, Wunderman Thompson, South Asia

S Srivathsan, EVP & Head – Human Resources, Times Network

Sunil Seth, Human Resources Director- South Asia, Dentsu International

Enumerating the benefits that have been extended to the employees during this second wave of Covid-19 to lessen their burden and bring in optimism, ABP Network’s Kavita Dasan said, “70% of ABP is operating from ground zero. Whether we like it or not, being a news channel, we have to be in the ground. Something different that we did this time was that the teams which had to be mandatorily at office and teams which can be working from home. So, all the corporate functions are mandatorily working from home strictly. Even for the anchors, reporters and editorial team we have ensured leveraged technology for them to work from home. We were prepared keeping in mind the last pandemic. Apart from that we have also added more freelancers, interns and trainees and working hours have been shortened. We also have a lot of one-on-one employee connect programme being launched. There is a covid war room that has been established. There is a bunch of people who are tracking every employee and the family member who’s been diagnosed of any kind of symptoms and employees first has been an attitude for which the leadership has come together. At the helm of heir, right from the CEO and MC we have decided that we will work without hierarchy and boundaries, with that being dissolved, employees first attitude has gone out. We have done special tie-ups with 20,000 doctors across globe and its taken care entirely by our company. Employee and their family’s vaccination are borne by the company. The employees were given certain guidelines, for example, reporters were not allowed to cover the rallies. Family outreach programmes were done. Once the employee sees that he and his family both are taken care by the organisation, I have seen them going out of their way to do work for their company.

Times Group, too, has extended similar benefits to their employees. Speaking about benefits provided by Times Network, S Srivathsan said, “Even during the first pandemic we had reduced our employees attendance to twenty percent in offices, with of course field staff working all the time that we further brought down to 15-16% this time because of the severity becoming very clear from friends and interior Maharashtra that this is going to be a very tough and we have to pull together ourselves as a team. We used our connect right up to the highest level, our reporters luckily have connects, our anchors and editors have very good connect. So we had a round the clock service from the HR, where we used to take employees request and we lay it across the Times Group, we had the benefit of a large Times Group Network. The other thing was reinforcing the communication, which was very vital for us. This was for some of the basics which people had forgotten, be it around the communication for double masking, or how to use an oximeter, how to set up an oxygen cylinder – all these were made into videos and were sent out and communication was enhanced so that people had all the information. The other important service that we had was strengthening our Doctor on Call service, we already tied up with a large hospital for this, but that was very generic set-up, so we enhanced the service and got a three-panel doctor installed. We have given dedicated covid related serviced to not only our employees but also our valuable partners. The second important service that we has added was again tying up with a large subsidiary hospital clearing oxygenated beds, creating nursing facilities and a doctor service in a third party location. The other important thing that we did was to review our entire insurance and other allowances and policies we introduced last time, we enhanced and improved it for wider variety of people. The other aspect we introduced was that of describing the statistics that is available and the important aspect of clinical management is we convert what the doctor say into various steps of home care. For our field staff we gave extra information in terms of safety, PPE Kit and others. These were done to prevent the Physical impact, on the mental side, we strengthened our one to one help, a counselling helpline which we already had in terms of employee assistance program that we are planning. We instituted initial focus on grief and anxiety as the two important aspects of employee wellbeing. So we asked our service provider to look for grief consultant as that was becoming very important and also in household and families it happened that there was a lot of anxiety so we were getting requests from these services again and again, so we empanelled both these services in the EAP and that was getting the most traction.”

In the last one and a half months, people have gone through a whole range of emotions, starting from the anxiety of will I be get infected, then if I get infected, will my family be infected as well, after which what will happen to work, deliverables, will I be able to complete work on deadlines, how will my client react and much more. Informing about what Wunderman Thompson, South Asia did as an organisation for their employees, Roopa Badrinath said, “As an organisation, we needed to reassure people that you come first at this point of time, safety is important, family’s safety is important and everything else will follow after that. Therefore, we organised townhalls and sent out communication to employees, where it was categorically stated that their safety, their families’ safety is first priority and then everything else will follow. The second thing was about co-opting the clients. Our people are the brand custodians, so they are working so closely with the brand managers of the company. These relationships are not transactional, but are deep, where they have worked together. Our people make sure that the clients don’t stay awake at night because of the challenges that their brands are facing. These people work closely with us, so we are being extremely honest and transparent about the status of work; thus, if there were any slip-ups they knew what was going on and they would understand that. The third thing we did was putting a response system in place. This was for responding instantly to our employees. The fourth thing was that we emphasised on empathy; if you don’t have that in your style of leadership, please do calibrate it.”

Watch the entire conversation here:

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