The unprecedented pandemic has had a major impact on businesses — whether established or startups — across the globe. Almost all organisations have been forced to reconsider their strategies, and the way they function on a day-to-day basis.
In order to keep the financial wheels rolling during the pandemic, despite temporary shutting down of factories and offices, Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting (WCCL), one of the fastest-growing FMCG companies in the country, has rolled out a new incentive programme, where deserving employees will be given incentives on a quarterly basis.
Incentives and bonuses
Earlier, WCCL used to pay incentives annually, based on the performance of the employees.
However, in the first quarter after FY 19-20, not all the manufacturing units were operational due to various restrictions and guidelines, which obviously impacted the business. Therefore, as per the plan, quarterly incentives were rolled out in the month of July.
Rajesh Sahay says, “Instead of our usual annual-incentive plan, this year, we decided to take a short-term view and go for quarterly incentives. As things are changing on a daily basis, there will be no generosity while rolling out the incentives in the coming quarters.”
However, the appraisal process for the FY 19-20 was completed on time. Based on last year’s performance, bonuses were also given out in the month of July.
In spite of the critical times, Sahay clarified that bonuses were given out to the deserving employees and not out of generosity. “Irrespective of what the employees had earned in the previous year, all were rewarded handsomely.”
“Instead of our usual annual-incentive plan, this year, we decided to take a short-term view and go for quarterly incentives. As things are changing on a daily basis, there will be no generosity while rolling out the incentives in the coming quarters.”
On the hiring front, although the Company has not put a hiring freeze, the need for open positions is very low right now.
In Sahay’s words, “Since, attrition has reduced significantly, we have come down to single-digit hires. As the downtrend in attrition continues, there are no vacancies. In difficult times like these, people don’t get jobs as no one hires.”
The Company is presently operating with 100 per cent workforce at the manufacturing plants. Out of the 1500 employees, if any employee is infected or resides in a containment zone and is unable to get to work due to quarantine rules, her / his space is allotted to temporary / casual workers.
Safety measures and guidelines
In India, Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting facilities are located in Amalner (Maharashtra), Tumkur district (Karnataka) and Baddi (near Chandigarh) and Waluj (Maharashtra).
In order to adhere to the regulations and maintain social distancing in offices, employees are working on a rotational basis and turning up for work twice a week. The remaining days are meant to be spent working from home.
Moreover, WCCL has enhanced several allowances for these employees who are now returning to work after the lockdown. Restricting the use of public transport, the Company has increased the travel allowance for employees. Now, employees are allowed to use their cars, and even two-wheelers while commuting to the office. “By giving out additional allowance, we were able to reassure our employees’ safety”, asserts Sahay.
There is more. For the employees working in the field, the Company has doubled their meal expenses so that even if the roadside food stalls are closed, they can have a proper meal at any of the expensive eateries, such as Dominos or Cult Fit.
“Although most of these employees carry lunch boxes to work, from an organisation’s point of view, we wanted the employees to psychologically feel assured that the organisation is there to help them in their times of need,” explains Sahay.
Sahay also shared that these allowances have been provided even since the lockdown was announced. Being in the essential services segment, WCCL could not officially shut down its factories.
In the R&D and manufacturing unit, employees had no choice but to come to work on a daily basis. The R&D employees in particular, had to come to the office because the large equipment they work on could not be shifted to their homes. Therefore, during the lockdown, the WCCL had arranged passes for these employees to commute with ease.
Travelling protocols and safety measures after reaching the workplace were clearly defined. At the workplace, and while exiting, there were protocols in place, including monitoring of health status, timely advisory, creation of isolation rooms and ambulance assistance.
“For the employees working in the factories, we provided safety masks, face shields, PPE suits, oximeters, isolation rooms and food supplements,” reveals Sahay.
Talking about the initial problems, Sahay states, “For us the challenge was different because we were classified under the essential items. We had to get the supply chain running. Therefore, our first target was to ensure the safety of employees, their families, associates and partners. Amidst this, it was also important for us to transact our business safely, which was essentially manufacturing, managing the supply chain through warehouses and transportation operations.”
Categorised as essential services, WCCL could not officially shut down its units. However, some employees, from the containment zones, were unable to leave their homes, which caused shortage in the workforce. As a result, the Company had to close down its factories.
Immediately after the lockdown, every state came up with its own guidelines, and therefore, it was important to set up a team to manage the regulatory affairs. This team had to match and maintain the compliance in each state and also ensure smooth running of the business at the same time.
“In the first phase of lockdown, compliance became an important aspect of work. Apart from the routine compliance of existing laws, the COVID-19 compliance emerged as a significant task. We formed a team to understand the guidelines of each state, ensure safety and compliance. This helped run the business smoothly, in terms of manufacturing, warehousing, supply and distribution,” shares Sahay.
Remote working / health cover
For the employees in the sales and marketing functions, who had to work from home, WCCL ensured that it was nothing less than a home office. It upgraded the IT infrastructure for these employees to stay connected and deliver.
The Company partnered with an online healthcare app, called VisitApp, where employees and their families could consult doctors online 24/7 for any symptoms. “This initiative was undertaken with the intent that employees should not have to step out to book appointments with doctors,” pointed out Sahay.
Along with safety measures, the FMCG player has adopted simple yet efficient measures, to ensure that its employees feel safe and remain healthy during these troubling times. For one, it has promised to bear all the remaining expenses after the insurance cover.
“In order to ensure that our employees do not have to worry about any treatment expenses, we doubled the entitlement for a year. In case employees need to be hospitalised, the balance amount, beyond what is covered by the insurance, will be borne by the Company,” claims Sahay.