Battling COVID-19: A Panasonic India Experience
New Delhi, India - The COVID-19 pandemic has been impacting our lives for more than a year now. Within Panasonic, we have rolled out measures to support and protect our colleagues around the world. But we have also recognized the need for a regional and country-specific response because of how differently the situation has evolved in each area and the divergent rules and regulations set out by governments and local authorities.
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, which started around April 2021, brought with it a record number of daily cases and the painful loss of family and loved ones. It also overwhelmed local health resources, leaving oxygen cylinders, medicines and healthcare professionals in short supply. So far, more than 330 employees and their families have been affected and while 99% of these cases have recovered, four employees' lives were sadly lost due to the severity of the infection.
Here we look at how Panasonic India responded with support for colleagues impacted by the crisis.
How we dealt with the crisis
When the second wave of infections arrived, the team in India was already well-versed in implementing steps necessary for business continuation, with strict safety protocols at offices and factories and IT infrastructure in place to allow most employees to work from home. With the government mandating partial lockdowns, the Panasonic team drew upon learnings from the previous wave and immediately regrouped the COVID Taskforce to provide guidance and support, resumed work from home for office operations and partially suspended manufacturing operations in regions under partial lockdown.
Guided by Panasonic's management philosophy, which values people over products and employee safety over business, the 12-member COVID Taskforce was responsible for ensuring the well-being of employees, their families and partners, and anyone associated with Panasonic across the country.
The Taskforce has been instrumental in securing supplies and coordinating efforts to deliver support as and when needed. They have worked tirelessly to ensure:
- supply of medical essentials such as oxygen cylinders/concentrates and medicines
- support for any hospitalization requirements
- partnerships with doctors and hospitals to offer online medical consultation for any physical and mental needs
- delivery of food to affected patients/families
- vaccine availability for eligible employees
- regular communication across respective teams to keep employees' spirits up.
Panasonic India President Manish Sharma and employees discussing how to protect employees during these hard times
Making use of Panasonic technology, the IT Team developed an application, the Covid Tracker App, that tracks the health data of consenting employees in real-time and acts as a database for the COVID Taskforce so that adequate support can be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible. To handle emergencies, the team organized a stand-by COVID Treatment Centre at the Technopark factory; this 3-bed facility was equipped with oxygen cylinders and concentrators and was staffed around the clock with a healthcare professional.
Given the nature of the crisis, the team also recognized the importance of providing help and support to maintain the emotional well-being of employees. Internal communications stayed open through virtual and social mediums and internal channels to keep colleagues connected. In addition, well-being initiatives were organized including:
- a 24/7 counseling helpline to support employees with mental well-being
- virtual sessions with nutritionists, spiritual gurus and psychologists
Despite the severity of the situation, our colleagues remained connected and supported each other; the sharing of personal recovery stories, which were circulated across the workplace using internal newsletters, helped to boost morale.
Panasonic India continues to stand with colleagues as we look to return to office
Manish Sharma, President & CEO, Panasonic India shared, "During the first and second waves of the pandemic, 338 employees and their families were affected and four employees succumbed to the virus. To help their dependents, we have set up a fund that allows all employees to contribute one day's basic salary with Panasonic India matching each contribution."
Manish added, "As COVID-19 cases decline across India and lockdowns ease, Panasonic India is gradually resuming operations and re-opening our offices and factories while taking precautions to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of our colleagues. We continue to follow guidelines defined by WHO and local government authorities, and ongoing measures against COVID-19 infections include providing vaccinations for all employees and instituting safety protocols (social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitizing) at all offices. To date, 80% of our employees have been vaccinated."
With cautious optimism, Panasonic India is taking small steps towards resuming office work and a new normal.
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