It’s a pandemic! India Inc.gears up

The Government and the corporates are working with equal sincerity and smartness to check the spread of the virus.


Business organisations are taking productive measures to curtail the spread of the pandemic and keep employees safe. Prompt alterations in the mandate and timely reshuffling of priorities are helping deal with the rising menace of the virus.


The last update on the official World Health Organisation (WHO) website reports a total of 1,18,322 positive cases worldwide, and 4292 dead as on March 11, 2020. While the confirmed cases in China total 80,955, the rest of the world accounts for 37,367

The director-general of WHO, in his regular media briefing, stated that WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and the organisation is deeply concerned, both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the disturbing levels of inaction. Therefore, the assessment made is that COVID-19 can be characterised a pandemic.

Seoul reported that about 80 employees on the same floor in a call centre have tested positive, taking the total number of cases in the Republic of Korea to about 7,755.

In the US, 44 out of 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have now reported coronavirus cases.

The virus death toll spiked by 30 per cent in Italy and the country is practically facing a lockdown.

According to the official Government of India website, the total number of positive cases in India is 73.

Nishant Madhukar

We are using this opportunity to create an awareness so that the employees can extend the medical benefit scheme and avail the cover for their parents


India has declared that all existing visas (except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment, project visas) stand suspended till April 15, 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13, 2020, at the port of departure.

All incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15, 2020 shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13, 2020 at the port of departure.

Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has announced that all employees will be exempted from biometric attendance in case of Aadhar-based biometric attendance systems, in the wake of the virus spreading through touch.

Delhi schools, colleges and cinema halls will stay shut till March 31, 2020 to avoid mass gathering of people at one place one time.


India Inc. is devising innovative ways to display empathy, keep people safe, and also extend support to the employees’ families. HRKatha spoke to Nishant Madhukar, HR head, Ferns N Petals, who took us through their unique strategy with people at the core and the mission being to combat Covid-19 in India.

Displays, infographics and messaging

Ferns N Petals is running a campaign through posters, common area TVs, e-mailers and WhatsApp messages over employee groups, to create awareness about personal hygiene, reduce panic and stress on the contingency.

Employee resource groups

Employees have joined together to form a group to facilitate an awareness campaign amongst various teams at the Company. These groups have been created to support, counsel, and help fellow employees with correct information and safety measures.

Safety at arm’s reach

The safety plan includes distribution of pocket-sized sanitisers to staff, and placing sanitisers at all strategic touchpoints — such as reception, visitor areas, meeting rooms and dining halls — to change the habits of employees and make sure that they use santisers.

Disrupt inter and intra city travels

Ferns N petals sources materials from China, but since the breakout, all travel and trips to the Country have been cancelled. Even field marketing, within cities, has been put on hold. All cross-premises visits of employees have been curtailed too.

Remote working

Since the organisation owns an updated digital infrastructure — owing to a mature e-commerce platform, and many of their employees working in the internet business — working from home has been possible. “In case of our employees who work in the stores and hotels, an audit was done to analyse each one’s mode of commute. The ones exposed to public transport, such as metros, were asked to stay at home. We are not hurting from short staff because post February, we anyway enter a dull season, and big events, such as weddings have been cancelled.”

Privilege leaves

Every employee earns 15-day leave at Ferns N Petals, and these can be accumulated and carried forward for three years. Employees are encouraged to travel to smaller cities, domestically, which will help them keep the virus at bay.

Inclusive insurance policy

Madhukar explains, “Often employees are not aware that they can extend the corporate insurance policy, by adding a minimum amount, to include their parents. We are using this opportunity to create an awareness so that the employees can extend the medical benefit scheme and avail the cover for their parents.”

The Government, along with India Inc., has been able to put the best foot forward to combat the novel coronavirus. While we are still unsure about the future, we can definitely pat our backs for making the right moves.