In times of crisis such as the one we are currently experiencing, HR is called to assess and contribute to a broader response that embeds our organization’s mission, values, and societal impact with a focus on the well-being of our staff, stakeholders, and the community. We need strategies for a business continuation that also addresses how people can stay psychologically resilient. Where dedicated staff are the heroes of the continuation of services to their communities. Now is the time your people need you the most.
It is key for HR to promote a climate of calm while also engaging the leadership team to respond with timely, accurate, assertive, clear, and consistent communication from all levels of the organization. Besides, communication needs to be honest, open, and as transparent as possible to maintain credibility. The approach should always come from a place of empathy and understanding of the different impacts situations like these have on people, from the physical to the mental. Our staff is our most valuable asset, and we need to look at our mission and our people together.
AL Safi Danone initiatives during COVID-19
Create a Crisis Management Team:
This team established meetings on a regularly scheduled basis to discuss updates, initiatives, and communication strategies.
HR was part of this crisis management team to:
■ Provide input in the guidelines to be implemented.
■ Gather and share staff questions and concerns.
■ Inform the team of new developments in employment laws and benefits.
■ Share revised policies.
■ Provide strategies to manage remote workers.
■ Share risks related to the crisis, and make sure that values and equity are still at the center of decision-making.
Focus on internal communications:
■ HR was leading the communications to ensure the actions we take should be thoughtful, clear, succinct, accurate, consistent, and as transparent as possible. This way of communication builds trust. We worked with the leadership team to build a robust internal updates framework and a communication plan.
■ We organized two online Town Hall meetings hosted by the CEO to be closer to the employees and to answer their questions.
Employee Wellness and Safety Initiatives:
Some of the actions taken:
■ Distance Working initiated – beginning of Mar-2020
■ 60 advisories + 5 awareness sessions + 4 videos communicated in 3 different languages.
■ Sanitation procedures across all branches. Over 600 liters of sanitizers distributed
■ Hygiene toolkits distributed for front-line including over 120,000 masks in two months
■ Contingency plan prepared for employees on vacation unable to work remotely
Implement Remote Work Strategies
■ HR worked with IT to ensure a smooth transition to a remote work scenario.
■ HR created and shared the policy for working remotely to encourage health and wellbeing and work engagement.
■ HR provided online learning both through in house, Safi Academy and external platforms to keep the people engaged and utilize their time productively during lockdown.
Al Safi Danone launched many initiatives to support the real heroes: front-line healthcare and security personnel across KSA for their immense efforts and profound commitment to contain COVID-19 outbreak in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health, SFDA, and Ministry of Interior.
Vice President – Human Resources (GCC & Levant), Al Safi Danone
Alumni – MBA University of Wolverhampton