The coronavirus pandemic has put companies in a difficult ethical position. Is it a company's legal responsibility to give back to its employees and society as a whole, or is a social responsibility?
Author: Izza Fakhri, DubaiMachines.com
When the first coronavirus cases were diagnosed in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019 and news of an outbreak began to trickle out of the country, only few could have predicted the coming pandemic.
As of this writing, global cases of the novel coronavirus have shot past 2.5 million, with more than 171,796 fatalities.
COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly around the world. Almost every country has reported the infected cases, some of them appear to be at the peak and they are taking full-fledged measures to build the surge capacity in their health institutes. Countries such as Turkey and India have seen a continuous increase in the number of cases in April and made new responsive strategies to lower the spread of disease, including nationwide lockdowns. Russia too is seeing a recent acceleration in the number of infected patients.
In major parts of the world, many businesses have either shut down or have laid off several employees prompting a never-before-seen spike in unemployment rate. Additionally, because thousands of educational institutes have closed, parents have been forced to homeschool their kids.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated worklife changes at a nearly unimaginable pace. Many companies have already curbed travel and asked employees to work from home. What people did not envision is that they would be working from home while doing multiple activities at the same time and trying to figure out how to conduct three Zoom sessions at the same time: one for their own meeting, one for their spouse or partner’s meeting, and one for the child learning at home!
Coronavirus makes work from home “The New Normal” and it is becoming the accelerator for one of the greatest workplace transformations of our era. How people shop, work, learn, exercise, communicate and of course, where they are working right now, will be changed forever!
In this chaotic situation, it’s been very comforting to see companies around the globe meet the challenges brought by COVID-19 with such kindness, heart and creativity. Though it is very easy to be a leader when things are in your favour, it's tough to lead when things are going bad.
Concerned brands are stepping up for the betterment of their employees. As COVID-19 cases increase, companies are stepping up to help protect and support their employees in need of assistance and flatten the curve.
Amid shortages of protective equipment and governments struggling to provide tests and supplies to hospitals, companies are doing what they can to help.
This is how these 4 companies are actively fighting the pandemic:
Amazon.com distributed personal protective gear, such as masks for the employees, and implemented temperature checks across their operations worldwide and also they have doubled the regular hourly pay for every overtime hour worked and also offering extra time off with full pay for those diagnosed with COVID-19.
Dubaimachines.com, a B2B UAE e-commerce platform, is donating a part of their overall sales to those in need, and their management is foregoing a major part of their salaries to take care of their frontline employees. In order to meet increasing demand, they have increased their workforce and reduced delivery time to ensure growing consumer demand is met, and in due fashion.
The company is also combating price gouging of medical equipment like protective gear, testing kits, and other essentials— which are already in extremely short supply. They have maintained fair pricing throughout the crisis.
Crocs is donating 10,000 pairs of shoes to frontline health care workers in the US as part of the company’s "A Pair for Healthcare" program. Hospitals around the world are currently experiencing protective equipment shortages, which places health care workers at risk.
Computer software company Adobe is offering free access to Adobe Creative Cloud desktop apps to help facilitate distance learning for students and teachers. The promotion will last until May 31. Around 862 million children are currently out of school due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In short, there is no truly simple answer. However, every PR department will do well to heed the lasting impact of positive contributions to society during times of crisis, as well as the increased loyalty of employees whom you have ensured are taken care of considering the situation.
The situation is uncertain for each and every business across the globe, and how you treat your employees will be remembered for years to come. How businesses respond will have a lasting impact on employee behavior including engagement, productivity and loyalty. Sooner or later, the virus will be gone, but it is a test for the entrepreneurs of the time to show their true leadership during this period, which will decide how they are seen when looking back to this historic era.