When you stay positive, you start seeing opportunities: CVL Srinivas

In this edition of 'Beating All Odds', CVL Srinivas, Country Manager, WPP, speaks to exchange4media Editor Naziya Alvi Rahman

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Published: Apr 13, 2020 8:34 AM  | 15 min read
Beating All Odds

The coronavirus crisis has swept the entire world into a whirlpool of economic crisis and is likely to have a major impact on the advertising and marketing industry.

In these times of difficulties, we need our leaders more than ever.

In this edition of 'Beating All Odds' series, we have CVL Srinivas, Country Manager, WPP.

Where do you see the light at the end of this crisis?

There is no denying the fact that right now are going through very challenging times. I grew up listening to stories about WW2 from my granddad and this is probably a WW2 kind of event for our generation and it's tough and challenging. Everything is very different from the minute you wake up in the morning - the fact that you have to work remotely and we're not sure how long it's going to last, or if there's going to be a cure. So yes, there is no denying the fact that it's challenging.

 On the other hand, if one looks for the positives, I think there are many. We've seen so many positive changes happen in the last 2-3 weeks. I don't think we've ever seen this kind of a digital transformation in every aspect of our lives — whether personal or professional. We, as organisations, industries and people, have adapted to this and that shows we, as a race, are capable of a lot more, and as organisations as well.

 It is obviously teaching us to be a lot more patient, and to be focussed and stick to our goals. I think we'll come out stronger. There is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel, as and when we reach there. All said and done, India is going to continue to remain the fastest growing major economy, although the numbers are obviously going to come down. It is also going to remain the fastest growing ad market, although again the numbers are going to be scaled down. As things rebound, they are going to get exciting. Clients will need us a lot more than ever, given the challenges they are going to face. So, looking at the agency side, there are exciting times ahead.

As the leader of WPP India and with so many big agencies to handle, how are you keeping the morale of your agency heads and employees high at this time?

A couple of things have worked well for us. Firstly, we started planning for this very early on. The fact that we're a global company gave some insight on how things panned out in China, and later on in Europe and the US. In fact, we had our global WPP leadership team in Mumbai for almost a whole week in the first week of March when all of this was playing out. So the policy decisions were being taken in front of us and we were part of the whole thing and therefore we started planning early on.

 By the time the lockdown was announced we had managed to get all our people to work remotely from home. We have 80 offices in India and over 15,000 people across our companies, including our associates, so we're talking of a massive set up in that sense. Frankly, even I was pleasantly surprised in the way in which it happened so smoothly. People adapted to the new way of working pretty well, we had fantastic support from our different leadership teams, from across all our operating companies — the IT, admin, HR teams — and everyone across WPP chipped in an ensured this worked, so it was a collective effort. Planning and all of us working together made things happen pretty smoothly.

 We are focussing on our employees, trying to ensure that first of all they are safe, they are healthy and they are in good spirits and that they are motivated to get back to their desk at home day after day, so we have quite a few initiatives on that front. We have, for example, created a learning and development programme which is pan-WPP, where we have a lot of interesting sessions lined up. It's already kicked off with a fantastic response. We have conducted sessions by some of our own champions within WPP, our partners, and quite a few fun sessions lined up as well. Next week we are organising a concert online for all WPP employees and it's going to be exciting. There are also a lot of fun stuff that the teams are doing on their own. Every market is carrying out their own activities. Some of our training programmes obviously are common and shared, and there is a lot of exchange happening with our global offices.

 At the end of the day, it's about keeping in touch on a daily basis, communicating with your teams, but at the same time I think you shouldn't over burden your teams with too much of work, it's important to stick to the basics and be focussed. Just realise that everyone is going through stressful times, so just help out and reach out to one another. And as a family and as a unit, we've come together pretty well. Just a  couple of hours ago we had our Global CEO Mark Read do an exclusive town hall for all WPP employees across India, and then Mark and I did a Q&A with all our employees. So those are the things we will keep doing, going forward as well.

 How are you dealing with your clients during this time of crisis?

 There is no denying the fact that they, just like us, are going through very tough times. Clients are obviously more focussed on the here and now, while everyone's focussed on how we get through the next 4-8 weeks or 12 weeks. For them, it is a question of supply chains getting restored, factories getting up and running again, products reaching the shelves, therefore, getting the whole cycle moving.

 I've had lot of conversations in the last couple of weeks directly with clients and through my client teams and one of the things we have tried to advise our clients is - if possible, try to ensure some amount of salience for the brand because study after study has shown that when things rebound brands which have some amount of saliency come back a lot stronger. The other thing we are saying is to be careful with the messaging that you run at this time. You need to be empathetic, you need to position yourself as a brand or service that is helpful. And of course, be very judicious with your spends because at the end of the day you need to conserve your resources for stronger and better days ahead. So how do you have the most intelligent mix at this time, if you can't have those big national campaigns can you use digital media more innovatively, etc.

 I just wanted to share some work that is being done for our clients even in these challenging times - like these by various operating companies within WPP. And it just goes on to show that despite all the challenges and pressures, people are putting in some great work. Landor, for example, has pretty much overnight created a new packaging for their client Jagatjit Industries when they got into the hand sanitizer line. The Glitch has turned out some very interesting campaigns in the last couple of weeks for clients such as Diageo, Netflix and Lenovo. Wunderman Thompson came up with the 'Make Your Mask' campaign for the Times of India, from the Delhi office and this obviously has got a lot of visibility and appreciation from folks all around.

They've also done a lot of interesting work for HUL and UNICEF.

 GroupM had organised the Critic's Choice Award which was meant to be an on-ground event with one of the industry bodies. Obviously, the event couldn't happen so they turned it into a virtual event and it got streamed live a few days ago. And again it received a lot of appreciation. It showed how to think on one's feet and quickly adapting to the times that we are in.

 Autumn Grey's 'First Transfer' campaign for Axis Bank, which we were talking about earlier, I thought was a fantastic work. 82.5's work for Himalaya and Luminous again was very interesting. Ogilvy has done interesting work across all their offices, including the Tata Sky, Asian Paints and Mondelez campaigns in Bombay, which are already on air. The work they have done for The Hindu and Fortune Oil in Bangalore and UPI from Calcutta, and also the Mother Dairy campaign they have done from the Delhi office.

 So across we have had some great work. Genesis Burson Cohn & Wolfe (Genesis BCW), our PR agency, has come up with some very interesting ideas for GSK, 3M and others in the last couple of weeks. So we've had great work done across the board. On the one hand, we are advising clients to see how best to manage resources to keep their brand salient, but we're also closely aware of the practical problems they are facing. It actually differs quite a bit in terms of client and sector, so talking to them more often and being there as their trusted partner is what's important.

 Tell us more about what WPP is doing on the CSR front in terms of the Coronavirus crisis.

 Apart from our people and clients, being a large responsible organisation, we are also mindful of keeping our communities in mind to see what more we can do. The WPP Foundation through which we channelise all of our CSR investments has been doing phenomenal work for the last couple of years. It's being run by Rama Iyer, who has won practically every award there is to win in the CSR circuit. And what we have done in the last couple of weeks through Rama and her team is that we have lined up options for our staff and our operating companies to contribute towards all the causes  — such as issues the migrants are facing and support for healthcare workers. We're contributing both as individuals and as organisations and it is all being managed through our foundation. We are also doing pro-bono work for some of the organisations as WPP and our operating companies. Anyone who needs help in times like these, we are most willing and most happy to play our part.

 It has been reported that China's revenues went down by 17% in the first few months of the outbreak. How do you see this situation hampering the growth of our economy and how much time do you think it will take to recover from this crisis?

 It is interesting you spoke of the China number because those are the numbers going around across businesses and almost every business has been impacted there. We will also see Europe and the US go towards those numbers as things catch on there, so I think we could see it in our market as well - in terms of what would be the dips we would see. It is obviously very difficult to put an estimate on what it finally will be as well as how long it will take to recover. The only thing I can say with a lot of certainty is as and when things recover, India is probably going to continue to be the fastest growing economy as well as the fastest growing ad market, although the numbers are going to be scaled down quite a bit. I guess it will all depend on how long this prolongs in India.

 Mark Read said that India is a standout market for WPP. Does this crisis put more pressure on you? How will we cope with this situation?

 I think this is one of those rare situations where the pressure is somewhat equally distributed across every person and every market, and I'm sure it's the same across organisations. So, yes, I think we all will feel the pressure and all organisations will. But like I said, there are a couple of things to look up to as positives. One is the fact that India is, all said and done, a land of opportunity. Even now, we have a massive headroom to grow, we have pretty strong fundamentals and the ad sector has been doing pretty well for the last few years, growing at decent double digits. We may not have a double-digit growth, of course, in the coming year but some growth will be there. More than that I think we will all soon realise that the past benchmarks and the past rates of growth and the formulae and the models that we've all gotten used to are not going to be very useful going forward. We are all in a reset mode right now, and we'll have to figure out what is a decent growth level for the industry and for individual organisations. That to a large extent depends on the way the product and services get transformed. Talking of the advertising and media business, I personally feel there is a massive opportunity for agencies as ourselves to play an even more important role to our clients and brands. I think there are newer opportunities we could look at in terms of contributing to their strategy, the way they redesign their portfolio, the kind of brands they need to bet on in a post-COVID era, even working around purpose. It will actually take on a new meaning. I think there is a lot we can do as an agency community. The main thing is to stay positive, when you stay positive, you start seeing opportunities.

 In the current scenario, BARC India numbers have shown that viewership has been breaking its own records, particularly in news viewership and digital. Do you think there certain sectors which should continue advertising during this time?

 As I said earlier, on one hand it is important to keeps brands salient and ensure that you don't completely vanish in times like these. On the other hand, one also needs to keep in mind some of the practical issues the clients may be facing, like in some cases such as ‘no stock’ or extremely limited resources which they want to conserve when things come back. So it is a balancing act which one needs to look at.

 There are sectors like CPG, BFSI, Education and anything which is based on technology or digital platforms – they should continue to advertise. Some of them may have reduced spends, but they are still there - Media and Entertainment can be counted in that. But there are other sectors which have been challenged even before the COVID-19 crisis - the auto or the telco sector and to an extent the retail and real estate sectors as well. So, I think those will take a slightly longer time to come out of the crisis.

 What advice do you have for the young people in the industry at this time?

 I would say try to be an optimist. Look at all the positives. I would say this is probably the best year to get into the industry because this is the time the industry really needs change agents and needs people with a fresh perspective, and people who can challenge the status quo and the old mental models, many of which need to be thrown out. So now is the chance to stand up and be counted. I think people who come and make a mark can really fast track their progress within the organisation having joined in this year.

 There is a lot of talk about the crisis having a major impact on Print and the OOH industry. How much time do you think it will take for these sectors to recover? And what do you think they should do right now to ride the crisis?

 I think this is the best time to go back to the drawing board and ask how do I reshape my business or my platform for the post-COVID 19 era. We have seen shades of that happening already. We have looked at the whole Print industry and hats off to them, they have all been extremely agile and have come up with digital and easy-to-read versions on mobile. Today I spent a lot of time in the morning reading the PDF versions of several newspapers. So that is a great example of the medium adapting to the changing times and I'm sure we are bound to see a lot more of such innovation going forward.

 This is something which ultimately we will come out of. When we go back to building brands and getting them back on air, I'm sure all these media will go back to seeing growth - whether it's Print or Outdoor. 

 Seize the moment, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, whether it's about our own personal transformation or the organisational transformation, or whether it's about coming out with new ideas and innovation.

 Thanks to what we have right now, let's make the most of it and come out with something that is stronger and more reliable; something which is more in tune with the times, whether it's a product or a service. So it's a great opportunity to unlearn a lot of stuff which will be useless going forward and pick up the new things. So seize the moment.

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Myprotein pledges 12% from its sales in May towards India's Covid relief efforts 

In addition to providing monetary support to various charities, the brand will also be donating 500 boxes of its protein brownies to Delhi Police

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 9, 2021 3:23 PM   |   1 min read

Myprotein
Global sports nutrition brand, Myprotein, has pledged 12% from its sales in May to a number of local causes in India to help the country in its fight against Covid-19.  
So far, 1.25cr has already been raised through the brand’s Impact Week online sales event and a further 12% from Myprotein profits in the UK (where the company is headquartered) will be added to the fund. The money will go to the following charities:
 
• Milaap COVID-19 Oxygen Relief Fund will receive £37,000/INR 37,00,000/-, as well as additional funds following the brand’s Impact Week sales event
 
• Myprotein is pledging £30,000/INR 30,00,000/- to the Shri Anandpur Foundation, which will go towards setting up a local oxygen generator plant in Madhya Pradesh
 
• Khalsa Aid International will also receive £50,000/INR 50,00,000/- to support Covid patients
 
In addition to the monetary support, Myprotein will also be donating 500 boxes of its Protein Brownies to the Delhi Police

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Arijit Singh partners with GiveIndia & Facebook to extend COVID support to rural India

The singer intends to provide essential supplies like oxygen equipment, beds, medicines, food & financial assistance to those affected by pandemic, through a live fundraiser 

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 4, 2021 5:54 PM   |   3 min read

Arijit Singh

Arijit Singh, a singer and music composer, has collaborated with Facebook through its SocialForGood Initiative and GiveIndia to raise funds for COVID relief to support rural India. This is the first time Arijit is hosting a live fundraiser and through this campaign titled ‘Helping rural India breathe and stay safe”, Arijit intends to provide essential supplies such as oxygen equipment, beds, medicines, food and financial assistance to those affected by the pandemic in small towns and villages. 

The relentless second wave of COVID-19 has already stretched the availability of essential medical equipment and crippled the healthcare infrastructure in cities. However, the problem has begun to escalate with the spread of the virus into the smaller towns and villages of the country. 

Through his initiative, Arijit hopes to help provide medical equipment and healthcare needs to help those in such regions - like his own hometown of Murshidabad, West Bengal.

To support the initiative, donors can directly go to the GiveIndia fundraiser page and make a contribution to the cause. As a part of the campaign, Arijit will also be doing a livestream through Facebook from his village of Murshidabad on Sunday, June 6th, the details of which he will be announcing on his Facebook page. Fans can both enjoy the live concert, and make a contribution to his fundraiser on GiveIndia.

Commenting on the fundraising campaign, Arijit said, “I have grown up in a small town in Murshidabad in West Bengal and wouldn't be who I am if not for my small-town upbringing. Seeing how COVID is affecting the people of rural India and watching these regions lack the required infrastructure saddens me and improving things in these regions is of critical importance for the livelihood of crores of people.”

Manish Chopra, Director and Head of Partnerships, Facebook India added, “Facebook’s SocialForGood initiative is focused on supporting large community causes by bringing together public figures and creators to raise awareness and funding. We are happy to partner with Arijit Singh and GiveIndia for this cause and enable people to come together on our platform through music in these times and help raise funds for those in need.”

GiveIndia CEO and Founder 2.0 Atul Satija said, “While the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the cities after a deadly peak is a ray of hope in these bleak times, the spread of the infection to rural areas is deeply worrying. These regions have inadequate health facilities and limited access to basic needs.  It is critical to support our rural population with lifesaving medical supplies, put healthcare infrastructure in place where there is none, and help with nutrition and financial aid. GiveIndia is grateful to Arijit for his support through the campaign to minimise the negative impact of the pandemic in rural India.” 

The concert will go live on the official Facebook page of  Arijit Singh on 6th June at 8PM IST. 

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For vaccines, India needs policy of 'One Nation, One Rate' for all states: Rajesh Tope

The Maharashtra Health Minister was in live conversation with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 3, 2021 9:07 AM   |   3 min read

Rajesh Tope

Maharashtra health minister, Rajesh Tope has said that even as the state is in the phase of gradually easing lockdown restrictions, it is already preparing for a possible third wave that may hit the children. The government has already set up a pediatric covid task force and put the administration on alert. 

“We have alerted the administration to set up pediatric wards. Maharashtra has set up a pediatric task force with the best and brightest of brains from paediatrics and started implementing their suggestions,” Tope said, in live conversation with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now.

Speaking at length about various odds and how the state is handling Covid-19, Tope on the issue of vaccination said that Maharashtra is aggressively preparing to vaccinate its entire population and has kept aside funds for the same. “We have the capacity and capabilities to vaccinate 10 lakh people per day. Only the issue is that vaccine is not available.”

Tope said the state floated a global tender to source vaccines, but none of the responses is up to the mark or complied with requirements. “Some have not given rates, others have not specified the delivery schedule.”

He appealed to the central government to come out with a policy for vaccine import for states.

“The centre must have a policy of One Nation, One Rate for all states and it must facilitate delivery schedule. Despite having all available resources due to these issues, we are not able to procure vaccine.”

Tope was in a live webcast of the Visionary Talk series held by public policy and governance analysis platform.

Tope who is the cabinet minister in the state assembly expressed concerns about rising Mucormycosis cases in Maharashtra where a single patient can require at least a hundred injections. He said the central govt should allot injections as per the number of cases in a state and when Maharashtra has the highest number of cases, it should get injections accordingly.

The state health minister while responding to a question on augmentation of health infrastructure and especially rural health infra said, “Health infrastructure has been exponentially ramped up. During covid, the government has made available 4.5 lakh covid beds and more than 2 lakh oxygen beds in the state. The govt sanctioned a fleet of 1000 ambulances. 500 are already on roads and the remaining 500 will be on roads in a month or 2.”

He added that the govt is filling up 100% sanctioned posts that have been lying vacant for the last 4-5 years along with increasing number of beds, equipment, doctors and paramedics in hospitals.

He also said that Maharashtra is moving in the direction where every district in the state should have its own medical college. “In the last 4-5 months the state cabinet has sanctioned proposals for 6 new medical colleges. Each medical college will be set up at the cost of Rs 700 Cr.”

Tope said that with the govt now giving relaxations to districts reporting low numbers and with industries and manufacturing already working to full capacities we are now in the phase of releasing lockdown restrictions. “Lockdown is the key to contain the virus’ he added.

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Producers Guild of India organises vaccination camp for members from June 1

Through these camps, thousands of production house personnel and crews will be vaccinated over the multi-day drive being held at Mehboob Studios

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 1, 2021 12:57 PM   |   1 min read

Producers guild of India
The Producers Guild of India (PGI), the premier association of the leading Indian film, television, and digital content producers will launch a vaccination drive for its members and associated production crews.
 
Through these camps, thousands of production house personnel and crews will be vaccinated over the multi-day drive being held at Mehboob Studios, starting June 1' 2021. 
By now, it is an established fact that mass vaccination is the only effective weapon in the long and deadly war against the Coronavirus that has ravaged the nation as also its entertainment industry. It is hoped that this camp shall contribute to the national mission of attaining universal vaccination and also facilitate safer shooting and content production.
Expressing appreciation for the many contributions that enabled this camp, Siddharth Roy Kapur, President of the Producers Guild of India, said, "An activity of such importance and magnitude cannot be carried out single-handedly and we are extremely grateful for the support we have received to make this possible. In particular, from our members Excel Entertainment who played a pivotal role in securing the vaccines, and Mehboob Productions who very generously offered complimentary use of the spacious Mehboob Studios. We are happy that we are able to provide this facility to our members, their employees, and the cast and crew of their productions as we work to get the industry books, its feet again in the weeks ahead."

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Myntra enables customers to use ‘Insider’ points for Covid relief

Over 33,000 Myntra customers from various cities have contributed more than 26 million insider points to the cause

By exchange4media Staff | May 26, 2021 3:18 PM   |   3 min read

Myntra

Myntra has partnered with GiveIndia for a multi-faceted fundraising initiative. With a commitment to supporting the nation in this need of the hour, Myntra has enabled its customers to contribute generously, using their ‘Myntra Insider’ points, to COVID relief efforts, including towards the cost of refilling oxygen cylinders. Launched in May this year, the drive allows customers to use their Insider Points (the loyalty program points accumulated from shopping on the platform), to contribute to the cause, without having to actually contribute real money.

Since the commencement of the drive, over 33,000 customers from various cities have come forward and contributed more than 26 million Insider points. The donations through Myntra Insider points have helped in adding 1.5 lakh kilograms of oxygen and facilitating medical care facilities at over 11000 homes for the needy. Myntra is also extending support to healthcare heroes and critical patients at COVID centres and hospitals by providing essential medical supplies through its fundraiser campaign with GiveIndia. The composite value of the funds collected in partnership with GiveIndia, as part of both the activities, so far amounts to nearly INR 10 million.

Myntra’s association with GiveIndia is a testament to the use of technology for the good of the community while enabling customers with a seamless and effortless donation program.

Speaking on the initiative, Amar Nagaram, CEO, Myntra, said, “We are proud to play the role of an enabler, by providing our customers the opportunity to donate their Myntra Insider points for the larger good of the community. We are committed to and are constantly working towards identifying and initiating activities that contribute to the nation's collective efforts of saving lives and fighting the pandemic. We have also extended COVID Relief measures to our employees and partners, and amplified our contributions towards supporting the current healthcare needs of the nation through our partnership with GiveIndia.”

GiveIndia CEO and Founder 2.0 Atul Satija said, "We are very grateful to Myntra customers, who have become a valued part of our COVID relief work. Like last year, they have again come forward to support critical needs during the COVID crisis - this time raising funds to augment the overburdened health infrastructure. It is a wonderful example of India's citizens rallying together to help each other during the nation's greatest hour of need."

 

Launched in September 2018, ‘Myntra Insider’ is a unique loyalty program that offers a comprehensive package of tiered benefits and privileges for top Myntra customers as they engage and shop more on Myntra. The loyalty programme boasts of a host of one of its kind benefits, such as fashion advice through personalised styling sessions, VIP access to flagship sale events, and exclusive access to limited edition launches and collections. In addition, Myntra Insiders can also save big with exclusive vouchers and deals from Myntra and other lifestyle partners in the fitness, entertainment, health, food and travel space.

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How India Inc. backed employee wellbeing in the second wave

From setting up COVID-19 war rooms to special treatment and quarantine centres, Indian corporates are ramping up efforts to support employees during the relentless second wave

By Anjana Naskar | May 21, 2021 8:33 AM   |   11 min read

corona and corporates

As the country works to beat the overwhelming second wave of COVID-19 this summer, organisations have been quick to recognise their role not just in contributing to the relief efforts across the country but also to supporting and safeguarding their own employees at this time. With life-saving medicines, supplies and oxygen running out, and with citizens across the country scrambling to find hospital beds, India Inc. has rolled up its sleeves and has displayed its compassionate side in numerous ways. From helping employees with hospitalisation and treatment costs to setting up COVID care centres, these companies are going an extra mile to look after their employees’ well-being during this second deadly wave.

Some organisations have also pledged to look after the dependants of employees who lose their lives to the disease. Earlier this month, Borosil Ltd announced that the families of employees who lose their lives to COVID-19 will be given two years’ salary and their children’s education will be covered till graduation by the company. The company’s MD Shreevar Kheruka made the announcement on Twitter, stating that Borosil’s real assets are their employees and paying his respects to four employees that passed away recently after succumbing to the coronavirus. The company joins a list of several other organisations across the board that have been quick to recognise that employee welfare is critical during this humanitarian crisis. Another similar example was set by textile manufacturer RSWM Ltd. The company’s Managing Director, Brij Sharma announced on social media that the company will pay 50% of monthly salary to the family of an employee who loses his life due to COVID-19 for the next two years, while also contribute some part for the education of the employee’s children for the next three years and provide medical coverage to the family for three years, among other things. Similarly, Bajaj Auto has announced multiple support measures for its employees amidst the ongoing second wave. The brand has stated that in the case of an employee’s death due to COVID-19, the brand will be offering monetary support up to a period of two years after their demise. The brand will also provide support for dependant children’s education till graduation and ensure a five-year hospitalisation insurance for all the family members of the deceased employee.

Putting employee safety first

Indian conglomerate, Godrej too has undertaken a number of initiatives for the employees to heal during these testing times across its businesses. Godrej Properties recently announced a three day break for their teams to recuperate emotionally. Godrej Consumer Products is also giving a mandatory day off once a month to its employees to recharge and reset. “We shifted to remote work for all our office-based team members well before it was mandated by governments. As a precautionary measure, we have asked our sales team members in India to work from home too, and are leveraging technology to manage different aspects of our systems and engage with partners,” says Rahul Gama, Head - HR, Godrej Consumer Products. In addition, the company is also providing COVID-19 medical insurance and life insurance for its extended workforce including salesmen on distributor rolls, CFAs, drivers and computer operators. The emphasis on safety is in fact also echoed by other company leaders and HR heads. “At Crompton, we stuck to our belief that people come first,” states Satyajit Mohanty – Vice President – HR, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals Limited, while explaining that the company is taking great care to ensure safety of people through its implementation of safety protocol for employees across the board. 

Companies like OYO are in fact going the extra mile by costs for tests, medical equipment and medication for employees. An OYO spokesperson tells us, “We’re offering home care/home quarantine in COVID positive cases through the company’s insurance policy up to Rs 25,000 per family. Our policy also includes reimbursement for RT-PCR test, pulse oximeter and thermal scanner, oxygen charges, FDA certified medicines, masks and gloves, PPE kits, etc.” With WFH being the new norm and with isolation becoming a necessity for those who test positive, corporate firms are identifying ways to help employees recuperate while ensuring COVID norms are maintained. Take for example, e-learning platform upGrad that has partnered with five-star hotel properties to provide accommodation and created ‘Temporary Safe Workplace Bubbles’ for employees who were staying in rented accommodation or who returned to Mumbai to re-join the office. “upGrad is evaluating the COVID situation on a daily basis, and as the second wave intensifies, our utmost priority is the safety and comfort of our employees along with ensuring that they are mentally and emotionally at the right place in their lives,” explains Arjun Mohan, CEO - India, upGrad.

Given the grim reality, much like Borosil, several other companies are also putting in place policies in the event of an employee’s untimely demise on account of the pandemic. “The company will extend the following support to a deceased employee’s family: 50% of monthly salary for two years as living allowance; medical insurance for family (spouse and two kids) of Rs 5 lakh for 10 years; education fees for two kids up to graduation; consider spouse/children for suitable job roles based on company’s policy as per requisite qualification and skills,” says Kaustubh Sonalkar, Group CHRO, Welspun Group.

Ramping up relief efforts

Pharmaceutical company Mankind Pharma has developed a 700 bed facility in Gurgaon Civil lines for anyone who needs emergency care and is ensuring its Mediclaim policy covers all employees who need medical help during the pandemic. Joy Chatterjee, General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Mankind Pharma shares, “Mankind Pharma works on three principles – people, product and process and in these tough times, we are ensuring our employees are safely working remotely and we offer support to those in need to promote positive mental health amongst employees.” 

Many organisations are going beyond just vaccination and ensuring mental health for their employees – they are also assisting in finding medical care, hospital beds, quarantine facilities and providing home-cooked meals for their affected staff. Consumer goods company, Marico too has created a COVID war room for companies that need emergency help, including sourcing hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and concentrators, medicines and plasma. “Our employees have time and time again proven to be the backbone of our organisation. As the second wave of COVID-19 is on the rise, we continue to keep people at the centre of all our critical business decisions,” says Amit Prakash, CHRO, Marico Limited. Online automobile marketplace, Droom too has set aside a budget of Rs 1 crore to support employees and dealers during these times. It has also set up a SWAT team to verify all leads regarding oxygen supply, hospital beds, food suppliers, plasma donors, and COVID-related life-saving drugs. 

All hands on deck

Aside from employers, employees are also rallying in support of each other during these trying times, helping arrange essentials and medication for those in need. “During the pandemic, last year, we started Trust@CARS24 with a commitment to help those employees who needed financial assistance for any medical purposes. This year, our employees have stepped forward to donate funds to Trust@CARS24,” says Kunal Mundra, CEO, Cars India, CARS24 detailing the efforts the brand’s staff are making to reach out to each other. “Our employees have come together and created a special team to provide drivers and logistics support in 25 cities for their colleagues, who need to procure essentials and oxygen cylinders, etc.,” he adds. 

Omnichannel platform Fynd too has placed employee welfare at the top of its priority list, adding that it is an important element of its culture. Farooq Adam, co-founder of Fynd explains how the company is taking steps to ensure physical, mental and emotional well-being of its staff during the deadly second wave. He says, “We are utilising all our resources to ensure our people and their families have access to treatment in case of COVID. We went ahead and doubled our medical insurance coverage and have assured interest-free loans for those who need further help in covering medical treatments. We have also implemented 4X CTC as term insurance to ensure families are financially safe in case of a sudden loss.”

HOW ARE BRANDS HELPING THEIR STAFF?

Godrej Consumer Products Limited

  • COVID-19 medical insurance and life insurance for extended workforce including salesmen on distributor rolls, CFAs, drivers and computer operators
  • Covering home quarantine expenses
  • Tele consultation via Apollo 
  • Vaccination for employees and families
  • Support helpdesk to collate and track requests from employees and families
  • Partnership with InnerHour, a mental health platform

Marico

  • Created a COVID War Room to help employees source hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and concentrators, medicines and plasma
  • Free COVID-19 vaccination for employees and families
  • Providing financial security and support to the bereaved family in case of employee demise

OYO

  • Offering home care in COVID positive cases through the company’s insurance policy upto Rs 25,000 per family

  • Reimbursement for RT-PCR test, pulse-oximeter, thermal scanner, oxygen charges, FDA certified medicines, masks, gloves, etc.
  • Covid-19 vaccination for employees

Tata Consumer Products 

  • Leveraging third party tie-ups for RT-PCR testing
  • Empanelled doctors for consultation
  • Assisting employees with COVID related emergencies through designated SPOCs
  • Home delivery of medicines 
  • Insurance coverage for COVID treatments, testing and vaccinations for employees and dependents

Mankind Pharma

  • Vaccination tracker to ensure vaccination for all employees
  • Medical coverage for all employees
  • Set up a 700 bed facility in Gurgaon Civil lines for COVID-related emergencies 

Duroflex Mattresses 

  • Care support helpline called ‘Anchor Advisors’, where even company MD Mathew Chandy assists 
  • Converted factories into vaccination centres for employees above the age of 45 
  • Tele-consultation for employees and their families
  • Insurance cover for COVID treatment for employees and distributor network

Droom

  • Announced budge of Rs 1 crore for COVID relief for employees and dealers
  • Offering 5x insurance cover to employees and family members
  • Emergency ward with basic medical facilities for employees 
  • Isolation wards for automobile dealers 
  • Created COVID SWAT team to attend to urgent requirements such as hospital beds, oxygen, etc. 

CARS24

  • Started Trust@CARS24 to provide financial assistance to employees for medical purposes 
  • Compensating testing costs for of COVID-19 for all employees and their families
  • Covering vaccination cost for employees and two family members

Fynd

  • Total hospitalisation cover of Rs 8 Lakh for employees, parents, spouse and kids 
  • In case of employee demise, 4X CTC to family
  • Medical loans with 0% interest to help with additional hospitalisation costs
  • Assistance with medication and finding hospital beds 
  • Additional COVID leave
  • Reimbursement for vaccination for self and family members

Amway

  • Assistance with oxygen requests and vaccination for employees
  • Covering all medical expenses arising due to COVID-19 
  • Created a makeshift isolation centre for employees to recover

Tata AIA Life Insurance

  • Facilitation for vaccination for employees and dependants 
  • Up to Rs 50,000 advance salary to assist on ancillary expenses
  • Practo partnership for online COVID related consultation
  • Care @Home packages(Available PAN INDIA)
  • Tie up with Ginger  Hotels, managed by Apollo Hospitals and other isolation facilities in 45 locations 
  • Oxygen concentrators available at 8 select locations
  • Special Covid Kavach protection policy for managers and below 

Capgemini

  • Arranging on-premise vaccination for employees and their dependents
  • All-India Command Centre: to address medical emergencies related to hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen, medicine, plasma, etc. 
  • Project GoodFood to provide home-cooked meals to employees and dependents affected by COVID-19
  • Partnered with various hotels to provide quarantine centres for 14 days
  • In the unfortunate case of employee demise due to Covid-19, ex-gratia financial assistance for their nominee / next of kin

UpGrad

  • COVID-19 vaccination drive for employees and their families
  • Tied up with five-star hotels in Mumbai and ‘Temporary Safe Workplace Bubbles’ for employees who have come to Mumbai and are living in temporary accommodations 
  • Rolled out salary hikes during this appraisal cycle to show appreciation for employees’ hard work during tough times
  • Dedicated COVID Helpline monitored by the upGrad leadership
  • Medical insurance for all employees

Cloudtail

  • Created a COVID-19 support and resource handbook for its employees
  • Launched new virtual features like consultation with pulmonologists and specialists and medicine delivery and general physician consultations 
  • Coverage for RT-PCR tests, COVID insurance and additional leave for COVID
  • Access to COVID screening plan, doorstep medicine delivery and hotel isolation service at a nominal cost 

Welspun

  • Set up COVID Care centres and war rooms
  • Additional support to families of employees who lose their lives to the disease
  • Vaccination drive for employees above the age of 45 years 

Publicis Groupe

  • Round -the-clock task force to help employees and families get the help they need
  • Augmentation of sick leave and healthcare coverage to cover any COVID treatment received at home through the company’s health insurance provider
  • Coverage of all vaccination costs for staff and their dependents
  • Support with hotels and accommodation for those who need to quarantine 

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Facebook introduces Covid-19 announcements to share credible Covid-19 and vaccine info

This is a part of Facebook's ongoing efforts to support the public health authorities' work to keep people safe and informed during the coronavirus public health crisis in India

By exchange4media Staff | May 20, 2021 12:46 PM   |   2 min read

Facebook  COVID-19 Announcement tool

Facebook is expanding COVID-19 Announcement in India, which is a tool for the health departments of States and Union Territories to share essential COVID-19 related updates with their communities. This is part of their ongoing efforts to support the public health authorities' work to keep people safe and informed during the coronavirus public health crisis. India is the second country after the US to launch this feature and Facebook has partnered with 33 states and Union Territories to roll this out in their respective jurisdictions. The COVID-19 Announcement feature will give health departments the ability to push out timely, credible COVID-19 and vaccine information to people in their local communities/ state jurisdictions. States will be able to issue these alerts statewide or to specific cities within their state.

When posts by state health department pages on Facebook are marked as COVID-19 Announcements, their reach is amplified so that people located in the community are more likely to see them. Facebook will send notifications to people located in the affected area, and will also show that information on the COVID-19 Information Center. This will help distribute important and urgent updates related to COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccination efforts to people in the community.

COVID-19 Announcements on facebook can be used to communicate:

  • Information on existing COVID-19 resources, such as helplines
  • Updates on hospital bed availability in districts, such as Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and oxygen supported beds
  • Changes to existing COVID-19 rules and regulation that can impact communities and day-to-day actions, such as lockdowns, night curfews and changes to treatment protocols
  • Information about vaccine eligibility and registration, and the logistics of acquiring a vaccine
  • Accurate information on COVID-19 appropriate behavior
  • Preventive behavioral health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19

 

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