The World Today: A Reminder For Organisational Conscience

The biggest lesson for companies across the world was to protect and take care of its workforce. People being the single most priority.


The first corona case in India was reported on January 2020. The government of India imposed a nationwide lockdown to combat COVID, but subsequently started allowing economic activities in phases to support livelihood. Daily active cases in first wave reached peak in mid-September with over 90,000 cases reported per day. In early February 2021, India registered about 8,635 cases, the lowest in months. People finally sighed in relief; however, this euphoria was short-lived. However, lo and behold, within a span of three months, India was hit with a tsunami-like no other, overnight becoming the global capital of the world’s deadliest second wave. 

The impact of second wave was/is much larger than the first, with rapid rise of cases and shortages of vaccines, hospital beds, oxygen supply and other critical medicines in many parts of the country. This wave stands in sharp contrast to the last, transcending from a distant reality and now striking almost every household, infecting families causing immense trauma as people suffered the disease or helplessness as they watched a family member struggle for every breath. It has been physically, mentally, and emotionally unsettling and vexing. Amidst this public health and humanitarian crisis, today, corporates don a much larger role in employee well-being, safety, and security.

The biggest lesson for companies across the world was to protect and take care of its workforce. People being the single most priority.

Keeping our people at the nerve centre

Public health recovery is pivotal, companies need to support their workforce relentlessly – across physical, emotional, and mental health of employees, the best they can. Everything else takes a back seat. Employees are at the heart of IPM India Wholesale Trading Private Limited (IPM India), from ensuring robust COVID-19 related financial support, enhanced medical insurance policies for employees & dependants, accessible medical equipment, medical counsel, diagnostics support, and a real time repository of information through health awareness sessions and videos for selfcare at home. We have partnered with medical support partners for home care/nursing assistance. Our employees are entitled to additional sick leaves and causal leaves to take care of themselves or ailing dependents. Employees have options like flexible hours, extended leaves, or shorter work weeks. 

Stay connected; with available, accessible support

The second wave has had a significant impact on mental health for so many people. Therefore, in these uncertain times, organisations must ensure that all channels of communication remain active in equipping employees with necessary information and repository of emergency support and helplines. Apart from physical well-being, it is important for organisations to have a mental health counsellor on board who can support people with any emotional issues that they might be facing.  And yes, leaders have to be more empathetic. There needs to be a  robust buddy support system for people to feel connected, heard, and motivated. Even in work meetings, it will be pivotal to bring in positive energy to the discussions, so one feels mentally positive, with a sense of belonging.

And finally, remind your people not once, not twice, but as many times – we are ‘In this together’

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one valuable lesson- to lead with compassion. It is pivotal that we now put greater focus towards softer skills. Else, one will never be able to demonstrate the much-needed Emotional Quotient, or as they say EQ, to its people. The time has gone to ‘talk the talk’. We need to ‘walk the talk’ with authenticity and tell our people that they are not alone. Yes, it’s a scenario that none of us have faced before, but we all ‘learn as we go’.

(Co-authored by - Alexander Reisch, Managing Director, IPM India Wholesale Trading and Loma Hosne-ara, Director, People and Culture, IPM India Wholesale Trading Pvt Ltd)

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