March 26 COVID-19 Emergency Member Session Recap

March 30, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Policies and Strategies

More than 30 members, including Dell, IBM, Bacardi, BASF, Target, J&J, ENI, Citrix, S.C. Johnson, Wolters Kluwer, AstraZeneca, among many others, convened on March 26th at 15.00 GMT for the fourth installment of Executive Networks’ Pandemic Response Virtual Roundtable Series.

The series continues on a thrice-weekly basis until further notice on the following days and times:

  • Tuesdays: 13.00 GMT
  • Wednesdays: 05.00 GMT (for Asia/Pacific)
  • Thursdays: 15.00 GMT

Communications and Morale:

  • Town Halls and Clear Messages from the Top: The consensus on the call was that leaders must communicate “two or three times” as much as they think they need to, starting with the CEO and executive team. Some members have implemented weekly Zoom meetings with its CEO, c- suite and the global SVP population. Other measures include town hall meetings with all managers.
  • Building Morale: For member companies like which do not have widespread remote work policies, getting employees equipped and comfortable working from home has been a top short-term priority. Measures include building project teams dedicated to building virtual bonds among employees, employees to bring their passions into virtual environments (employee-led yoga breaks, for example) and sending care packages to employees in isolation or quarantine due to exposure. Others have spun up channels for coronavirus support, as well as regional groups where employees are self-matching to help each other (i.e., running errands for people, or offering childcare support).

Allowance for Child and Elder Care

    • Offering Extra Help: Measures include offering up to 80 hours of additional paid time off to provide in-home childcare and/or elder care, extended paid leave to any employee that needs to care for a child or other family member and limited reimbursements to pay for childcare to any caregiver other than a parent.

Internships and Co-ops

  • Pushing Forward Virtually: Several member companies who reported that they are charging ahead with a 100% virtual internship program for 2020, with interns split into virtual communities of practice made up of agile teams. Other include shrinking the program from 12 to 9 weeks and limiting some of the responsibilities of managers.

Extra Compensation for Workers at Facilities

  • Pressure from Employees and Other Employers: Three member companies—each operating production sites deemed “essential” by local governments amid widespread local shutdowns—said they are under pressure from employees and are considering offering some form of hazard pay. One of the member company proposals mentioned includes a $500 lump sum payment to frontline employees globally. Another member relayed that a large employer near one of its major sites had publicized pay increases—news not lost on the member company’s own employees.
  • Dangerous Optics: One member reported backlash from some employees who are still commuting to production sites. Frontline workers are asking why they are taking on additional risks without extra compensation while white-collar colleagues work from home at full pay. “There’s a ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ thing developing that we have to focus on.” Another member company has asked for volunteers among its’ office workforce to begin working at production sites.

Recruiting and Hiring

  • Hiring Freezes: At least four member companies on the call reported partial or total hiring freezes across their enterprises
  • Where Hiring Continues, It’s Virtual
  • Internal Movement: Internal promotions and transfers have slowed dramatically across the board. Two members reported that they have continued to move people internally, while suspending backfills. One reported an effort to “informally leverage” added bandwidth in marketing and PR to meet other needs. Even the normally routine task of getting workers to critical field sites has become an immense logistical challenge, with one member reporting that they’ve repurposed the corporate jet fleet to do just

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March 26 COVID-19 Emergency Member Session Recap

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