It took Deepti Varma at least two days to obtain a hospital bed after her family was diagnosed with Covid-19 this year. The incident gave Varma, the head of human resources at e-commerce behemoth Amazon India, firsthand knowledge of the difficulties that frontline employees face and how to seek help.
“That hit me like a tonne of bricks,” Varma remarked. “Because many like us have received financial assistance, but it was still difficult for us to locate assistance.”
Her team’s attempts to create rules to support employees afflicted by the epidemic were bolstered by the experience, which taught her that she needed to look at the pandemic situation holistically.
Indeed, Amazon, led by Jeff Bezos, has been at the vanguard of providing support to its employees and the local community. These procedures could serve as a model for the corporate sector in dealing with the epidemic.
“As a frontline e-commerce company, we have a significant duty to safeguard the safety of our staff and our communities around our customers and partners,” Varma added.
The warrior ecosystem
During the medical emergency accompanying the country’s second Covid-19 surge, Amazon India’s ‘Covid Warriors’ assists colleagues and the community with crucial resources.
Employees at Amazon have stepped up to assist coworkers in need. It has evolved into a full-fledged movement. A devoted network of Covid Warriors is reaching out throughout the country to offer assistance and collaborate to support individuals who needed immediate medical help.
“Despite personal problems, I am astounded to see how colleagues have rallied to assist one another in times of need,” Varma stated.
The team works around the clock and directly with HR and Benefits teams to support coworkers, families, and friends. They’re assisting in the search for hospital beds, ambulances, and isolation centres. In addition, they are answering questions on claims, insurance, leave, and pay advancements.
The organization already has over a thousand volunteers and is spread throughout several locations, with plans to expand. These city bands collaborate to guarantee that persons in need receive a coordinated response across cities. Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Mangalore are among these cities. Indore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Jaipur, and Salem are among the other cities.
Each city’s warrior band has a captain, a well-defined operating model, and rosters with responsibilities and duty shift clearly defined. Subject matter experts from HR, employee benefits, compliance, and other departments provide central assistance to this decentralized system. They provide regular updates and implement process improvements based on input from the Warriors. There are also around 100 volunteers whose job is to call on people for help and empathy.
The initiatives began with the establishment of a call centre to handle covid-related calls. These calls were for ambulances, hospital beds, medicines, counselling, and instructions on setting up an intensive care unit (ICU) at home.
“We realized that we needed to put in a mechanism to scale it up,” Varma explained.
Before the outbreak of covid in India, Amazon had done trials linked to remote working and establishing virtual contact centres, which aided in scaling these activities. It has also given staff the option of working from home. Amazon was one of the few corporations that we’re able to move 98 per cent of its employee population to work remotely within a few days after the pandemic reached the country.
Amazon directly employs around 100,000 people in India, with tens of thousands more working in the company’s various worldwide technology teams centred in Bengaluru. Amazon is also assisting the families of employees who have been transferred to other countries. One of them was a coworker whose mother had recently been brought to the hospital. The employee’s father was home alone, and his oxygen level had begun to drop.
According to Varma, the employee was on a video conference with his father, attempting to assist him. “He called us at 1:00 a.m., and we had the oxygen concentrator at his house by 4:00 a.m.”
Covid can sometimes affect the entire family. The firm has devised a concept known as “listening circles,” People can discuss their experiences with their peers.
Although the company has implemented covid policies around the world, India faces its own set of obstacles. It informs staff about India’s unique needs, such as oxygen concentrators, immunizations, and available resources.
Amazon India also brings Covid-19 vaccinations to its frontline staff, based on lessons learned from previous on-site immunization activities for over 45 years. It is holding immunization clinics on-site, which registered health care providers are delivering. It began the vaccine event by providing vaccines to its clients on the front lines, and it will continue to expand when vaccinations become more widely available.
To preserve social separation in its facilities and keep associates safe, the corporation has implemented nearly a hundred changes to its on-ground operations. Amazon claimed it changed its policies across the board, including fulfilment and sorting centres and delivery stations. Amazon accomplished it through new communication forms, process modifications, training approaches, and policy modifications.
Amazon India said in April that it would cover the cost of the Covid-19 vaccination for over a million people. It comprises its India employees, associates, and active sellers from the previous year. It also covers delivery service partner associates and their qualified dependents from the operations partner network.
It had implemented several safety measures as well as other financial assistance programmes. It includes extensive employee support mechanisms such as cost reimbursement for Covid-19 treatment, hospital search, and reimbursement for specified Covid-19 tests. For its operation partner network, it also established the Amazon Relief Fund and the Partner Support Fund.
Amazon recently announced that Acko General Insurance Limited would provide Covid-19 health insurance coverage to registered vendors on Amazon. in the marketplace at no cost (Acko).
Amazon has announced that it will buy and donate 100 ventilator units to help India combat the terrible second wave of Covid-19. Amazon has also teamed up with several partners to bring over 10,000 oxygen concentrators and BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) machines to India.
What others are doing
Walmart, Flipkart, PhonePe, and the Walmart Foundation have all pledged to assist with the Covid-19 relief efforts in India. Many organizations have stepped up their efforts to fight the spread of the disease across the country. They’ve improved oxygen availability, support the national immunization programme, and give organizations assisting with Covid relief in badly afflicted areas. Smaller districts with a growing caseload are among them.
Many of the pledged supplies, such as 20 oxygen-generating plants, 20 cryogenic containers, more than 3,000 oxygen concentrators, and 500 oxygen cylinders, have begun to be distributed in the last few weeks by these companies.
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