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We heal as one: How you can support employees during natural disasters and calamities

We heal as one: How you can support employees during natural disasters and calamities

The pandemic is only one of the plagues that continues to hamper 2020. In the last month alone, Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses took the country literally by storm, disrupting daily life. Rolly, considered the worst typhoon of the year, ravaged the Bicol region; while Ulysses, with its nonstop rainfall flooded the city of Marikina and caused the opening of the Magat Dam which consequently engulfed areas in Cagayan and Isabela.

The latter prompted the country to declare a state of calamity. Though it weakened as it exited the Philippine area of responsibility, the damage has been done, and relief operations are kept up in the highly affected locations.

Even with weather forecasts, the effects of typhoon season can be unpredictable. Filipino resilience aside, how can you, as an employer, help your people recover from calamities? Here are some good practices to show that you care:

Be the first point of contact

Effective recovery requires support, and employees who suffered the brunt of the catastrophe need that more than ever. If Wi-Fi-connected communication platforms are a no-go, reaching out through a phone call or a text message may be your next best bet. Signal failures may prevent you from initiating any form of communication, but if you have access, go ahead and contact them without hesitation. Your colleagues will appreciate the thought and care that you have extended.

On the other hand, if colleagues reach out to you, be accessible as much as possible. Even if they call you in the wee hours of the morning to share an update or to tell you about their situation, make sure to be available. Your sleep cycle could make do with a little disruption if it means looking out for your employees.

If your company has an Emergency Response Taskforce, inform them of your employees’ status. Otherwise, a simple report to your HR team would do.

Provide financial assistance options

Finances may be tight for employees who were severely affected by the typhoons. Not only do they have to deal with regular expenses, they also have to cover recovery and restoration of property. There may even be medical costs. Come up with a list of options for financial aid that employees can avail during this period.

Here are some suggestions;

  • Salary loan - advance the month’s paycheck to tide any expenses that relate to the recovery period

  • Calamity loan - have a special fund set up just for cases like this so that you can have cash ready to lend to employees in need

  • Mutual Assistance Program - put up an initiative that is funded by staff contributions. This can be a voluntary program that deducts a fixed amount from their monthly salary to build a calamity nest egg, and may be used as financial assistance by affected employees

  • Emergency company funds - set aside X amount of money from the company budget just for situations like this, which you can lend at 0% interest

  • Cash Advance - petty cash loan (Php 3,000 to Php 5,000) for employees to purchase basic necessities

  • Early release of 13th month pay - if release was set for late November or early December, companies can opt to advance this government-mandated bonus to tide financial woes

  • Government loan options: SSS calamity loan, PAG-IBIG calamity loan

Run a donation drive

Set up a voluntary financial donation drive where you can collect donations from willing employees to help their colleagues in need. Assign division heads to ask their teams who would contribute. Donations could be collected by HR who, in turn, would fan split it among the victims.If you’re not badly affected by the disaster, you may even go as far as to “match” staff donations so more people could be aided.

Aside from financial aid, you can also prepare donations in kind. Provide a care package for your employees containing basic grocery items (e.g. canned goods, instant noodles, milk, water, etc) that will last until they recover. Got that virtual year-end party you’ve been planning? Maybe you can cut the budget in half and use the money to help your employees out, or even share some of the raffle prizes that you were planning to give away during the event.

Once you’re done collecting the necessary donations, identify the employees that need help and divide the funds among them.

Reconsider filing of employee leaves

Be sensitive about asking employees to use their Vacation Leaves during a natural disaster. Braving floods is hardly a vacation, so it is best to let this slide and consider this a regular work day. Encourage your employees as much as possible to stay with the company so they could apply for financial assistance. Do not go about trying any form of exit management methods at this time.

Go the extra mile and show you care by giving extra days off for employees who are on the mend, whether they’re rebuilding their homes, relocating to other living areas, or doing other ways of picking up after the storm.

Keep your employees updated

This applies to employees who have data access. Be sure to update your employees about what is going on - any relevant news or reports about the current natural disaster. Better yet - share these reports once you have gotten wind of an official announcement from the PAGASA weather bureau or from official news outlets. It is best to always be prepared in these times, and even if the typhoon strength is unpredictable, at least you had an ample amount of time to prepare.

Be considerate

Now is not the time to be discriminatory - you are in the middle of a disaster. Ease up on the rulebook and respect the decisions of your employees. If they refuse to come onsite, they must have a valid reason, so allow them to work from home or put up flexible working arrangements until the situation eases up. Nothing is more urgent than the disaster at hand.

If they have employee benefits that can greatly help them during this time, remind them and let them be aware of such. Check on their well-being, specifically their mental health, and know that you are there for them in their time of need. Apply the bayanihan spirit and uplift each other during this time.

The good thing about storms is that the sun rises after, but if you are in the midst of a deluge, provide that heartwarming care to your employees and embrace their request for support and assistance. Be there for them because calamities are a traumatic experience. We’ve been there, and with COVID-19, there are just too many catastrophes to face all at once.

Find the right people who not only work hard but can show empathy and concern for their colleagues. Use Talent Search to be able to reel in top quality candidates and tweak preferences accordingly. Visit the Jobs and Resources Hub to get expert insights on striking the balance between finding top talent and meeting your own hiring needs.

At JobStreet, we believe in bringing you #JobsThatMatter. As a Career Partner, we are committed to helping all jobseekers find passion and purpose in every career choice. And as the number 1 Talent Partner in Asia, we connect employers with the right candidates who truly make a positive and lasting impact on the organization. 

Discover Jobs That Matter. Visit JobStreet today.

About SEEK Asia

SEEK Asia, a combination of two leading brands JobStreet and JobsDB, is the leading job portal and Asia's preferred destination for candidates and hirers. SEEK Asia’s presence span across 7 countries namely Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam. SEEK Asia is part of the Australian Securities Exchange-listed SEEK Limited Company, the world's largest job portal by market capitalization. SEEK Asia attracts over 400 million visits a year.

About SEEK Limited

SEEK is a diverse group of companies, comprising a strong portfolio of online employment, educational, commercial and volunteer businesses. SEEK has a global presence (including Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, South-East Asia, Brazil and Mexico), with exposure to over 2.9 billion people and approximately 27 per cent of global GDP. SEEK makes a positive contribution to people’s lives on a global scale. SEEK is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, where it is a top 100 company and has been listed in the Top 20 Most Innovative Companies by Forbes.

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