Employees: the key resource for emerging from the health crisis as a winner

April 07, 2022


On three occasions during the April 2020 closure caused by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, ORAM’s co-presidents called all employees individually to ask about their health and that of their families, talk about their concerns, and learn if their financial situations would require special support.

This extraordinary approach, resumed in the fall of 2020, may explain why ORAM has managed to maintain its activities – and even grow – despite the pandemic. ORAM’s management team was quick to adapt its operational and strategic management by considering the uncertainties, but that would not have been enough if the company had not known how to take care of its most valuable resource: its team members.

Deploying appropriate measures

Employee well-being was one of the ORAM leaders’ main concerns long before the pandemic. So, the staff was not surprised to note that, from the beginning of the first wave, several measures were quickly implemented to counter its immediate effects, including those resulting from previously unprecedented measures, and to ease the most urgent situations.

For example, in addition to issuing constant reminders about health measures related to COVID-19 and compliance with the prevention program, ORAM has provided all team members with masks, visors, disinfectant products, and other means of prevention, plus the equipment needed to communicate and work remotely.

It was a start. However, as the crisis continued, it became essential to adopt other measures – the solution mode – which constituted a process that had to be invented.

Increasing listening, flexibility and support

Virginie Leblanc, HR Director, recalls that she and her team quickly went into listening mode to offer support to employees who had concerns about COVID-19.

“There had to be greater flexibility in the organization of work, for example, for employees who had to take time off to care for their children during school closures. The HR team then worked to support them, in particular by directing them to the proper resources.”

A process for verifying everyone’s state of health has also been put in place: a COVID form, accessible by QR code can be completed with ease using a smartphone.

Lastly, despite the exceptional situation, the annual salary adjustment for all employees, as well as planned contractual increases, have been maintained. Hence, no member of the team had to deal with the anxiety generated by the threat of possible financial impacts.

Opening communication channels

In addition, the pandemic has led ORAM’s leaders to realize the importance of maintaining and even expanding the various means of communication already in place to inform team members about the crisis management plan and to support them professionally and personally.

Several press releases issued by management have made it possible to keep staff informed about government measures, preventive measures in force, and organizational changes within the company. Multiple posts on social media also served to keep communication channels open with all team members and thereby break the isolation.

Without doubt, listening, flexibility, support, and the increase in communications have had a major impact on the team’s well-being. However, as in a storm of uncertain duration, a captain’s role is also to dispel the crew’s fears about the ship’s ability to continue its course by continuing to steer with competence and confidence, which is exactly what ORAM’s management team has accomplished.

Minimizing the negative effects of the crisis by planning the recovery

For a few years, ORAM has enjoyed a solid and efficient execution and management structure, but in the spring of 2020, the events related to COVID-19 forced its leaders to take a step back. Accordingly, from the three-week closure in the spring, they proceeded to draw up an operational recovery plan that aimed to take concrete actions at various levels within the company, allowing the preservation of its vision and strategic alignment, while maintaining the ORAM Experience.

As uncertainty loomed over the reopening, the first step was to assess the different scenarios against various components of the strategy. The management team then contacted all partners, customers, and suppliers to collect all the information needed to maintain the strategy and to know the extent of the pandemic’s current and expected impacts, which made it possible to have a clear vision of the situation for each of the stakeholders, and facilitated the development of the recovery plan.

Learning from past experience

Crises and challenges are always rich in learning and experience. So, given the intensity of the pandemic’s first wave and its effects, including the uncertainty surrounding the its duration, it quickly became clear to ORAM’s leaders that it was essential and wise to adapt their interventions to preserve the health, safety and morale of the troops over the longer term.

That’s why the management team didn’t hesitate to implement more tangible and lasting measures to this effect: telemedicine service, a new Employee Assistance Program (EAP), deployment of a new HR department, call for several collaborators whose role is to support employees, creation of a health and safety advisor position (including mental health), quarterly communications with staff, installation of monitors on construction sites, and publishing a monthly internal newsletter.

ORAM’s leaders have long understood that while companies create jobs, human resources are essential to all companies’ survival and healthy growth. ORAM’s enviable situation at the moment tends to prove that they were right to bet on the well-being of all team members.

Would you like to pursue a career in a growing company that takes the well-being of all its team members to heart? Join the ORAM team and become a builder of excellence!

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