In the latest of our interview series we caught up with Paula Evans, Head of Pensions and Benefits UK & Ireland at Fujitsu to get her insights into the recent Coronavirus and how Fujitsu has managed the pandemic in the UK and Ireland. Here’s how the interview went:
How did Fujitsu respond to the initial lockdown?
Our employees’ and their family’s health and wellbeing is of great importance to us and of course to them. With this in mind, we took proactive steps in advance of the Government’s requirements. We tested remote working for our company on Friday 13th March – which all went well. Employees have been working from home since then with the exception of the key workers in our business who need to be on one of our or our customer’s sites.
What about managing the softer side such as employee engagement?
We’ve put a lot in place to help here. Employees have adapted to the new situation that we all find ourselves in, each in their own ways, and we have worked to support everyone. For example, we introduced a Carers Leave Policy so that people could take 5 days extra of paid leave to help with care giving responsibilities – be that childcare, eldercare support or simply nursing a family member. We’ve also enabled people to buy extra annual leave and spread the cost throughout the year. Of course, we are always open to flexible working requests and are pleased to see our employees and managers working together to enable all employees to balance work and life effectively.
In addition, we have a dedicated website available to all employees on which we share all information relating to Covid 19. We are running weekly manager briefings for all people managers and all employees calls and comms are also shared across our population, so everyone understands Fujitsu’s approach and all of the support that is available to help. We already had a brilliant EAP service and we have continued to promote this and run additional webinars to help employees understand all of the benefits that they can access, including additional sessions on mental and physical health and wellbeing.
What sort of activities and events has the company organised to maintain communication with employees?
On top of the regular team and manager updates, we have ensured that there is consistent and open communication with all our employees. This ranges from Q&A sessions to webinars and talks to discuss all the different challenges we all face.
In addition, to ensuring that all our employees remain busy and engaged we have lots of available additional L&D ranging from all the traditional business learning to resilience. We have supplemented this with lots more, including a suite of learning available to all employees and their families ranging from learning languages to fitness training and traditional business learning via one of our benefit providers. Employees can also join in with virtual chair or mat yoga on a weekly basis.
We have also seen lots of use of our volunteering programme which is great and in support of mental health awareness’ theme of kindness it has been wonderful to see the posts that employees have shared of the kindness that they have given to and received from others on our virtual kindness wall.
You have a very dispersed workforce so what challenges has that created?
It is a normal situation for us given the nature of our business, but we definitely have even more locations than usual with people working from home and ensuring that employees have a safe and suitable work location remains essential and a priority. Our H&S team has done a brilliant job in helping everyone to understand and access the support available.
How do you think the company has managed the situation well?
Yes, I am incredibly proud of how Fujitsu has reacted and behaved. We have not lost or furloughed one member of staff to date and we need to give the company great credit for that. Not only this but the speed at which the company reacted and the communication and processes that have been put in place have been exceptional. They have been clear on every aspect and managed to adapt as this pandemic has continued.
Is there anything you have noticed since the lockdown started – such as the way people ore behaving, being nicer to each other etc....?
Personally I think so. I think that the weekly clap for key workers really enabled the country to come together and show support. I have enjoyed being able to join in with that with my neighbours in a socially distanced way. I think that people are more understanding of each other, and everyone recognises that we are all living through an incredibly challenging and uncertain time with people concerned about lives and livelihoods. If we all help each other, we will all do better together. I hope this sense of caring and consideration does not stop with the end of the pandemic.
What advice would you give to other business?
Listen, understand and find ways to help your employees and their families. Our employees are our business and we can all work together to help each other and our customers. I’ve always been proud to work with such excellent colleagues and continue to be #proud to be Fujitsu.