CSR projects and other support during COVID-19

Singapore government is giving many businesses various support during this crisis, but there are still a lot of gaps in the system, and many people are still struggling to make ends meet.

There are a lot of community CSR projects that were halted during this COVID-19 period. Those that engages the community or run activities for low income families were all cancelled due to social distancing rules. If your company have been engaging in some of these activities previously and stopped due to the new normal, you can actually relook at it again to see how you can restart these initiatives.

Many people lost their jobs during the current crisis, and every little bit helps. An executive that lost their jobs will appreciate produce that would support his family for a few meals, and this may also mean more nutrition for the family with a wider selection of vegetables of fruits.

Some companies support the food rescue movement in Singapore. Regardless of situation, people still have to eat. In Singapore, food is imported and the perishable food do have a certain lifespan, and cannot be sold when the condition of these food is not as good.

Businesses engage various local community groups to support these initiatives to:

  • Reduce food waste
  • Feed the community

When done as a corporate CSR, the sponsoring company can request their corporate logo to be on the marketing materials, in exchange for some support that they offer. These projects often require a few things:

  • Volunteers
  • Transport
  • Storage space

For businesses that want to support, they usually provide some volunteers, a transport and storage space. Usually, a truck, a driver and a storeroom.The dried food is either sponsored or collected from the Foodbank and stored in a facility (Store room, or on the truck itself). Then the truck will pick up the local volunteers to go to the wholesale market to collect the produce which are not viable for sale, and brought to a facility to sort, before distributing it to the community.

The local food rescue volunteers usually will have some manpower for the distribution, but may not have enough volunteers, vehicle and storage space for the whole project, this is why corporate support is needed.

Other supports during crisis.

There are a few groups of people who are at risk during this crisis. Remember, your staff would also need support during this crisis.

  • Freelance workers
  • “Deskless” workers

For freelance worker, there will be more competition for them as people get retrenched. If you company hires some of these workers for short term projects, exploiting them by reducing the amount you would pay would not be ethical.

For “deskless” workers — employees working in restaurants, retail, hospitality, and other “non-essential” services can’t do their jobs from home — safety would be a big concern. As they are facing customers directly, they are all are all putting their health on the line to keep the world afloat.

They should be treated like the heroes they are.

The following recommendations can minimize their exposure risks and create a safe and appreciative environment.

Safety first.

Make it easy for unwell workers to stay home, until they’re well again. Have extra staff to ensure shifts can be covered and safety maintained. Extra staff may also be necessary for disinfecting, take temperature or ensure social distancing. Telling existing workers to cover additional duties like cashier and taking temperature may create safety lapses.

Better communication with staff

There are a lot of uncertainty as the economy is uncertain, and this creates a lot of anxiety for the staff. Constant communication with the staff and opening up new direct feedback channels are important.

As government policies change when the crisis evolves, rumours and predictions can be found online, and some “fake news” will affect the morale of the employees. A mobile communication platform is a highly effective tool for communicating with offline employees in a timely way. This can be a one stop shop so that the critical information can be conveyed as soon as possible to keep the business running smoothly.

Proactively support employees

There may be other issues which arise from the current crisis. Your employees may have friends or families who are badly affected by the crisis, or working from home may have caused more tension and problems at home.

Managers may also be at risk. Sometime, you may just need to take a walk in the middle of the day, having a therapy appointment, or prioritizing a staycation (and actually turning off email) so that you don’t burn out.

Intentionally checking in with each of your direct reports on a regular basis is more critical than ever. That was important but often underutilized in pre-pandemic days. Now, with so many people working from home, it can be even harder to notice the signs that someone is struggling. Allow employees to share issues or concerns, they may not always do so, but knowing that they can is what matters.

Offer flexibility and proactively be inclusive. The team’s needs, and your own needs will continue to change as schedules of childcare and other rules change and evolve. Being accommodating doesn’t necessarily mean lowering your standards. Flexibility can help your team thrive amid the continued uncertainty.

It is important that we come out of this crisis stronger, together. We are all in this together, and we can take the lead to show more compassion. This may not be a good time to beat the competitors, but we can definitely find more ways to collaborate with others and together, we can emerge stronger.