Corporate File

India Inc. wears its heart on its sleeve

Vinay Kamath & Chitra Narayanan | Updated on May 23, 2021

Good shot: Pepsico got its employees and their families vaccinated

Be well: Companies like PepsiCo organise regular well-being sessions online

Corporates are offering Covid-19 care packages for the well-being of employees

As the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic rolls on relentlessly, companies are loosening their purse strings for the well-being of their most precious resource — their staff.

This includes measures such as handing staff a ‘well-being allowance’, paying and arranging for vaccinating employees and their families and topping up insurance and giving salary advances or loans. They are paying compensation to the family in case of a breadwinner’s death, funding the education of their children, enabling consultations with doctors and offering hospital-managed quarantine facilities.

Larger companies have even set up Covid-19 care centres. Some have contributed to government relief funds or helped in the procurement of oxygen plants and concentrators. Clearly, corporates are wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

Well-being is key

Companies are taking both the physical and mental health of employees seriously. Take the case of Shailee Chatarth, Business Head, Away from Home channel, Pepsico India. Some months ago, her father, based in Bhiwadi, Haryana, tested positive. He recovered, but was prone to depressive bouts.

Chatarth says the interventions by Pepsi have been helping her father and the family. “My father is using our employee assistance programme which is a helpline with psychologists.” Further, she, her father, sister and brother-in-law from three different cities are availing of the company’s online meditation services.

Tata Technologies has also instituted several programmes including mindfulness sessions for the overall wellbeing of employees. Hotel group Accor has ensured all associates have access to counsellors around the clock. Tech Mahindra has appointed a dedicated Wellness Officer to ensure employees get access to medicines, hospitals, etc. In most other places, HR is stepping into that role.

Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages (HCCB) has launched a series of weekly wellness programmes to enable its associates deal with stress. HCCB has also introduced a loan fund to meet exigencies of critical medicines and hospital admissions. VMware, Inc. is doubling the annual ‘well-being allowance’ for its India staffers who are now eligible for ₹59,130.

Care centres

Many employees live in small houses, which make isolation or quarantine difficult. Mindtree has built well-equipped Covid-19 care centres — staffed by paramedics with a 24x7 ambulance service and oxygen concentrators — in Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune for employees and immediate family members experiencing mild symptoms. Another centre is expected to shortly come up in Hyderabad, says Paneesh Rao, Chief People Officer, Mindtree, Tech Mahindra too is converting some of its campuses into care units. Accenture has partnered with health care providers to offer quarantine rooms in hospital-managed-hotels in seven cities.

Bajaj Auto has created care facilities of over 250 beds across all plant locations to serve its employees and the community.

Financial support for families

Loss of the breadwinner is devastating to a family. Mindful of this, some corporates are going the extra mile. Borosil was the first to announce that in the event of an employee’s death due to Covid-19, his or her salary would be paid to dependants for two years.

Siemens has said it will give a lump sum of ₹25 lakh and one year’s salary of the employee to the family, and take care of the children’s educational needs.

Bajaj Finserv will provide a deceased staffer’s family with an amount ranging from 1.5 times to three times the annual salary; and a fixed amount of ₹1 crore for the family of senior employees. It will pay up to ₹2 lakh a year for a child’s education up to graduation and offer extended medical insurance for the family for 60 months “We resolve to stand by their families in these trying times,” says Sanjiv Bajaj, Chairman & Managing Director.

Luminous says a deceased employee’s spouse will be given a job, dependants will receive three months’ salary, health insurance for the family will continue for a year and annual school fees of up to ₹1 lakh for each child will be reimbursed till class 12.

Textiles maker Welspun will take care of living expenses, education and health insurance of family members of deceased employees. It will pay half the monthly salary for two years, medical insurance of ₹5 lakh for 10 years, education fees for two children up to graduation and consider spouse/children for suitable job roles.

Bajaj Auto too has committed support of up to two years after a staffer’s demise and in dependant childrens’ education till graduation. In addition, there will be a five-year hospitalisation insurance for family members.

Vaccination support

Companies are organising vaccination camps, directly sourcing vaccines and tying up with hospitals. PepsiCo, for instance, got its Delhi employees and their family members vaccinated through a tie up with Apollo Hospitals last week. More such camps will be held in other cities.

Last year’s stories were about the heartlessness of India Inc with reports of job losses from many firms. This year it’s a turnaround. As Kamal Karanth, co-founder of Xpheno, a specialist staffing firm, concludes, “This pandemic has made many leaders, for the first time, experience how employee well-being is directly affecting organisation productivity. Even if empathy wasn’t in the leader’s DNA or employee well-being wasn’t the enterprise priority, the scale of disruption to personal life and business has transformed many.”

Published on May 23, 2021

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