As much as individuals, corporates, industries and Governments are reeling with the impact and aftereffects of the second wave, we have another impending uncertainty to prepare for. The pandemic has deeply affected physical and mental healthcare and wellbeing with repercussions likely spanning generations.
While none of us is an authority to make predictions about the future of this pandemic, the least we can do is to be prepared and learn from previous waves. The last time in March, we were underprepared but we are better equipped with our learnings this time around. Here is a short guide for CHROs to lay the groundwork for healthcare uncertainties and ensure our people are safe and so is the community.
- Create/ activate your task-forces. Start creating awareness about safety and individual best practices.
- Follow Government of India Guidelines and prepare for teleconsultations.
- Track vaccination/ booster shots updates.
Create/ activate your task forces. Start creating awareness about safety and individual best practices.
The second wave of the pandemic was unprecedented, and just like us, the entire industry was caught unawares. The speed at which things escalated, leading to a paucity of resources was something that we all hadn’t planned for. Almost half of our people’s lives were affected by the pandemic, either directly or indirectly, says Shweta Rani, Chief People and Culture Officer at Zinnov.
The first thing the company did in March, as it quickly regrouped, was to upgrade their insurance plans to ensure their employees were protected from the heavy costs of treatment and had access to home care and/or professional care as needed.
The company then quickly put together a task force, which included senior leadership, cross-functional teams, and a group of volunteers on a rotation basis, who were available around the clock for every person physically or emotionally impacted. This learning and access to resources were quickly extended to the broader ecosystem, in the form of a resources’ microsite, as the company realized the need for community support and capacity building during this trying time.
This time around, Zinnov is treading the line of caution and of knowledge, with a strong contingency plan under its belt. They have built a system that will enable them to become fully remote again (currently operating on a hybrid model where employees come to the office twice a week). As per the Government of Karnataka guidelines, they are also collecting vaccination certificates and travel certificates of employees to ensure that they have documentation in place in response to any need that might arise.
Currently, the Zinnov team is also taking proactive measures, and continuously knowledge-sharing to keep its employees aware of the changing and dynamic scenario. They have swiftly moved to a model where it is no longer compulsory to visit the office, and their task force has been placed on standby and can be activated at any point in time. Their biggest learning was ensuring a comprehensive and inclusive insurance policy where comorbidities were covered as well, as the treatment for COVID-19 and post-care is expensive.
Follow Government of India Guidelines and prepare for teleconsultations.
According to Dr. Akshay Kothari, who heads Plum Telehealth, it is important to follow Government of India protocols of safety and hygiene. He recommends creating a database of emergency contacts, a proactive reporting system, an organised system to reach out to the HR team and also a handy list of medical professionals for teleconsultations.
Track vaccination/ booster shots updates.
In the case of Bridgeweave (with a staff of 30), we have done a round of communications through Managers to inform employees of COVID19 related protocols. We moved back to the office in October and are hybrid now. Due to the recent news on the latest virus, we have decided that employees can take a call on when they want to come into the office, due to safety concerns.
We are also tracking booster shot availability and will share this update with employees as and when we have more concrete information said Shruthi Bopaiah, Head of Culture, Communications and Community at Bridgeweave.
Build the trust in your team members that they’re not in this alone.
Arindam Banerjee, Process Excellence Head at Ather Energy and one of the core team members of the company’s COVID committee says, “When the first wave hit India, and the country went into lockdown, we put together a COVID19 committee, consisting of individuals from across the organisation. The committee is still in action, ensuring that Ather Energy continues to follow COVID19-appropriate measures. While the safety of our employees is of paramount importance, we also had to ensure that business didn't take a big hit. The COVID19 committee played an important role in creating this balance.”
As Ather Energy has manufacturing units, we ensured that the organisation stays compliant with safety regulations and government mandates. All our facilities are equipped with masks, sanitisers and other safety equipment, and regular audits are done to ensure that the protocols are being followed. Temperature checks are done at the entrance of all facilities, along with verification of vaccine status (two doses are mandatory). Our housekeeping team tirelessly works to keep our office premises sanitised. We tied up with a local hospital wherein our Hosur factory members could show their ID cards and get an admission if they tested positive. We even rented a house near the plant so that those infected or showing symptoms could stay in isolation.
Quick pointers on how Ather Energy is preparing for any healthcare uncertainty going forward:
- Constantly monitor what is happening in the regulatory space. Track regulatory and statutory requirements and implement them immediately.
- Educate, educate, educate. And sensitise. Constantly remind people to wear masks and sanitise. Remind them of the implications it can have on not only themselves but their colleagues, family, and circles.
- Support your team members. There must be rigid policies in place for both safety, and assurance. Team members must feel safe in the work premises, and at the same time, in the unfortunate event of them falling sick, they should feel protected. Make. Have enough points of contact in place so that everyone has someone to turn to and hear them out in times of need. Build the trust in your team members that they’re not in this alone.
- Follow the hybrid model as much as possible. If the nature of your work allows you to work remotely, do that. If needed, train managers on how to manage remote teams so that the hybrid model can function efficiently.
Overall, Companies are now being cautious, upgrading their healthcare access and also being proactive in communicating with their employees.
Explore more about group health insurance and healthcare plans by Plum.
We will continue to keep updating this article, as and when we have further updates.