COVID-19 Roundtable Discussion
Thank you to the members who participated in this Virtual Roundtable Discussion on the COVID-19 pandemic. We had participation from TOTAL, Baker Hughes, ENI, Target, Dell, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Dow, BP, BNP Paribas, BASF, Prudential, Pentair, Comcast, Sun Life, and MetLife.
The recap below is from a call at 11:00am EDT on April 9. Some approaches discussed may have since changed.
Separations and Furloughs
- Remote separations: The prospect of “virtual separations” is scary to many. While not furloughing at this time, one member company does have a much-tested process in place—having been largely remote in some divisions for years. The employee is notified, and the organization mails them a package with instructions on how to ship back their equipment. Final paychecks are cut once equipment has been returned.
- Finding furlough days: A member in a newly cash-strapped industry shared that they are located in about 100 countries, so furlough looks different based on location and legality. In some regions, employees are being furloughed one day per week. In other regions, the furloughs are in shifts—with groups of employees furloughed every other week. What is consistent are company-wide are guidelines for people leaders and HR leads to
communicate furloughs by remote means: For example, ensuring that the employee’s family is not in the room.
Wellness and Wellbeing
- Extending services: Most members on the call shared that they have extended their already existing services and added some new ones. A member shared that they have a learning platform to provide training around well-being and mental health and worked with the Health & Safety department to provide Wellbeats. Another member expressed that they are about to launch “Just Wanna Talk.”
- Employee Assistance Programs: With 2/3 of their employees working from home, one member reported an increase in depression and anxiety—leading to lowered productivity. They have a dedicated group responsible for EAP and wellness, with advocates that can connect people with a specialist for counseling. Another organization has launched a web program with stress questionnaires, chat access to psychologists and a call back system for psychological advice, if needed. They are also pushing wellness initiatives around learning, indoor sport/fitness, and promotion of “social” events and virtual coffees. Another member said that they use a web-based platform called Daylight, to manage stress and anxiety and Sleepio, to manage sleep. Another organization shared a platform they use called Workplace for their leaders and employees to post and share wellness behaviors.
Bonuses/Incentives and Compensation Plans
- Bonuses: A few members expressed that they are issuing bonuses for their essential staff that are still reporting to work sites.
- Compensation Plans for Temporary Closures: A member shared that they have shut down a few of their plants and are determining whether to furlough staff and continue their
benefits. They have not made any decisions yet on their plants that are still open.
- Shift Shortages: A few members shared that they are struggling to manage shift shortages and have decided to incentivize people with money to temporarily relocate within region. Some others have said they are getting employees and managers to fill in the shortages.
Returning to Work
• Planning stages: Organizations are beginning to put plans in place for the return to work, as they wait for governments to ease restrictions. Many of the protocols are related to workstations, premises, staggered teams, etc. Some are also thinking about mandating the wearing of masks and maintaining travel restrictions. A member located in Italy shared that they are hoping to open up parts of the country again soon and are working on managing an
internal rotation scheme for staff to get back to work, with a shift change every two weeks.
• Coming back in shifts: Another member in the APAC region is scenario planning and looking at who actually needs to return to office roles in the “new normal.” Another organization shared that their regional crisis teams are managing their return to work plans. They are anticipating how they will return in phases and what will need to be changed in the future—they will continue to practice social distancing until necessary.
Members expressed that one of the good things to come out of this crisis is the ability to connect with employees and colleagues in different ways. Many have met their coworkers’ kids, pets, etc. on
video calls. They have also connected differently with their CEOs and activated communication plans to make sure everyone is on an even playing field. Another member shared that the crisis has
opened up employee/manager conversations in positive ways.
Many members expressed that they believe more people will work from home after the pandemic and we return to a new normal. A member shared that they will continue to lead a telecall for their
executive meetings—they have seen a lot more engagement with everyone being on video and engaging with each other—rather than the traditional presentation to an audience with others on a call.
Feedback and Follow-up:
Topics where members agreed more insight and additional capabilities are needed:
• Return Dates being considered for scenario planning
• Shift shortages and furlough management
• Protocols for going back to work and transitioning to the new normal
• Compensation measures for site and plant temporary closures
Thank you to all who participated for your energy and enthusiasm! We will have more discussions and send out surveys and resources on specific topics concerning COVID-19.
If your team is dealing with similar issues or have questions you’d like answered please fill out the form below!