Engaging and taking care of our staff through the Covid-19 crisis

Recent weeks have been all about adapting to an unprecedented and rapidly changing context. Being agile and adjusting the way we operate has been on the top of our agenda. Advans’ Human Resources teams have been focused on ensuring that our staff are taken care of, aware of what the crisis means for them in their everyday work and mobilised to continue providing the best service possible to our clients. We have collected some examples of best practices from across the Advans network to show how our subsidiaries in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Myanmar, Pakistan and Tunisia have been engaging and protecting their staff.

#StaySafe: Protecting and reassuring staff

Advans’ priority is ensuring that staff are aware of the implications of the virus and protected against it. Advans subsidiaries have put in place several preventive measures to facilitate physical distancing, for example home working and limited presence in branches (when open), providing medical equipment like masks and hand sanitiser and generally raising awareness. In addition, several subsidiaries put in place extra measures to ensure staff’s safety and wellbeing. 

In Cameroon for example, Advans Cameroun sent staff video advice on preventive measures from the company’s doctor to reassure staff who were worried about health implications of the crisis. Advans Cote d’Ivoire’s HR team is individually calling staff (97% of all staff already contacted) in order to reassure them, listen to their concerns and ensure they are accompanied in the best possible way. During the calls, different topics are discussed such as fighting the propagation of the virus and basic preventive measures to adopt; any problems related to remote working, as well as concerns about the impact of the crisis on operations. Employees worried for their health are referred to the company’s doctor. Similar calls are also in place in Advans Tunisie.

Meanwhile in Pakistan one of the subsidiary’s immediate responses to the crisis was the improvement of health insurance policy for all staff. Remote group sessions on mental well-being were also conducted to ensure staff understood the importance of emotional health and supporting each other and their families during this period.

#StayConnected: Keeping staff united

Because many staff have been obliged to work from home or have limited contact with their managers and colleagues Advans has had to find new ways of keeping connected and encouraging communication and solidarity. Management and HR teams have been creative with online tools to ensure that staff are motivated, united and communicating with each other.

In Myanmar, the Advans Myanmar family Facebook group was actively used to communicate on the crisis as soon as it broke out, with an increased number of 402 out of 420 employees joining. Advans Tunisie also communicated via its Facebook group, sharing videos and communications from management. A number of staff video and photo challenges were also launched in Myanmar, Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia to show group solidarity and keep teams connected. Over in Pakistan, live sessions on Zoom around key changes in HR policies were conducted where members of the Management Committee interacted with 30 staff at a time, providing clarity and guidance while encouraging staff to ask questions. Furthermore, WhatsApp groups have been set up in Advans Côte d’Ivoire and Advans Cameroun in order to share more easily updates on the situation and get staff’s feedback on the measures being introduced.

#StaySmart: Keeping staff informed

The Covid-19 outbreak calls for both a change in how we work and a change in our operating policies and processes. Staff have to manage working from home, and also need to be informed on Advans’ approach to best serve and support our clients. Because staff need to be trained on these skills and concepts very quickly, the Advans Group and subsidiaries have been working on providing virtual training sessions. A weekly email with “The best of the week” ideas of training is also being sent to subsidiaries.

Advans Pakistan and Advans Myanmar organised dedicated training sessions that provided staff with guidance and tools over online platforms to enable them to work from home. Advice focused on how to create a good working environment, manage working hours and staying motivated. In addition in Pakistan a session for managers focused on best practices in managing teams remotely was held.

In Tunisia, trainers have been working along with the group to conduct virtual class sessions on key operating principles and processes relevant during the crisis. Virtual sessions through Zoom include interactive group discussions, quizzes and home assignments. Live online training sessions have received very positive feedback so far with a subsequent increased demand on personal development sessions. The crisis also encouraged Advans Tunisie to accelerate the implementation of a new e-learning platform to increase its remote training capacity. These first examples of successful training sessions will be capitalised on to further develop remote learning practices across the group.

Positive feedback from staff…

So far Advans has received very positive feedback across subsidiaries, with the actions implemented helping to maintain a feeling of unity within teams and a reinforced feeling of belonging across the group. Thanks to different communication and training initiatives, staff have remained mobilised and dedicated to Advans’ overall mission. Staff have especially appreciated being able to ask questions, give feedback and discuss their personal situations with Advans.

Advans’ teams around the globe are closely collaborating and we continue learning from each other’s experiences while improving our ways of working and staying in touch.