In the pharma industry, the sales team comprises remote workers. The work of these salespeople generally requires them to travel, usually on two wheelers, from one place to the other. They hardly find the time to meet their bosses. If they meet with an accident during their work and hectic schedule, it is the responsibility of the company to take care of these employees.
Considering the issue of road safety and the number of road accidents that takes place in India every year, it is certainly not a rosy picture at all. Road safety has been a major issue in India for a very long time now. Around 1.47 lakh people died in road accidents in 2017, which is even more than the population of Shillong and many other small cities in India. The number appears to be even higher than the number of soldiers we lost in our wars. As per the data from the Ministry of Roads and Safety, the number of fatalities and injuries is twice the number of people that die in accidents every year. Over the years, we have hardly seen any positive reduction in the number of accidents and lives lost. The Government may choose to shy away from helping the situation, but Eli Lilly and Company India has refused to do so.
The pharmaceutical and healthcare organisation has a robust road-safety programme in place for its field employees, called the ‘Mobile direction programme’. This emphasises on promoting road- safety practices and training amongst its sales team and other field employees. The programme has been in existence for a very long time, but in the past two to three years, the organisation has been placing extra emphasis on the safety of its employees.
In India, almost 70 per cent of the workforce at Eli Lilly consists of field employees who rarely sit at a desk. Under this programme, all the newly-recruited employees who join the sales team or other field work duties, have to go through a day’s driving training and test, with half of the day spent on theory classes as well. Unless they attend the programme and clear the test, they cannot go out on the field and work.
All the immediate managers and supervisors are required to check on the safety of their field staff twice a year and create a feedback report, which they have to then upload on the Company’s internal app along with a questionnaire. They also have to provide a feedback on how the field employee is driving. The Company also organises visits by road safety experts from outside for its field staff, to enhance further awareness amongst the employees.
The Lilly mobile app allows staff to report or seek support in case of an accident.
“Being a healthcare company, our biggest priority is to make sure that our employees are safe. None should ever get hurt while working for Lilly. We strive to live by our value of respect for people, and it starts with making sure that every employee is safe”
Providing financial support to its employees is also an integral part of the programme. The organisation provides reimbursements to its employees on buying safety gear, such as helmets, gloves, jackets, knee guards and elbow guards. It also extends financial support for vehicle maintenance and changing of tyres.
The Company prohibits pillion riding, as this increases the risk of two people getting hurt at the same time. Managers are encouraged to hire a cab for field visits and claim reimbursement for the same. “Being a healthcare company, our biggest priority is to make sure that our employees are safe. None should ever get hurt while working for Lilly. We strive to live by our value of respect for people, and it starts with making sure that every employee is safe, “says Anant Garg, director HR India, Eli Lilly and Company.
He further adds, “When there are road safety issues within the organisation, it also impacts the brand and the business. As a result of this ongoing effort, our injuries and incidents have remained very low, and specifically this year it’s been zero.”
According to Garg, on an average, the number of collisions and accidents has also seen a reduction of 20 per cent in three years, thanks to this programme.
For Eli Lilly it is just not about the safety of employees on the roads, but also ensuring a healthy and a fit culture in the organisation.
As we have witnessed in Delhi, since the last four years, the level of pollution in the capital has taken a big leap. To provide a healthy work environment for its employees, the organisation has installed an industrial air purifier, which is integrated to the air conditioners in the offices. This keeps the PM level below 50 inside the office. Eli Lilly also provides discounts to its employees to purchase air purifiers for their homes. That is not all. It organises Zumba and Yoga classes for the benefit of its employees.
Eli Lilly is truly setting a benchmark for other organisations, with its extraordinary efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of its employees.