Business Houses across Industries have set up Task forces and Crisis Management Teams, especially after Employees began reporting sick as the second Covid wave intensified. However, what is incredible to notice is the indomitable spirit of Unison, Solidarity and Collaboration to fight the situation together.

The first Covid wave may have overwhelmed many tentative and underprepared Organizations. But this time, the resolve and fortitude to stand together and support people & families is unmistakable. In addition to accelerating changes on the Business front, the Pandemic is also manifesting Compassion for all – not only Employees but Communities too that need help.

Colleagues, who may not have asked about each other’s families in the past, are now doing that with sincerity. Many are getting to know the filial and personal challenges their Colleagues struggle with – like ageing parents, terminally ill members of family, specially-abled children and schooling from home.

The Pandemic is making Leaders show Empathy, de-prioritize or re-arrange tasks in many cases to deploy resources to resolve the crisis. Internal Communication has intensified – one-to-many and one-on-ones. What we are watching unfold is an incredible social phenomenon of manifesting the spirit of Ubuntu – the acknowledgement of Interdependence and the spirit of Compassion & Kindness never witnessed before. The Human Connectedness is unmistakably apparent even in the most hard-nosed and mercenary. The pandemic continues to be an incredible teacher – this time evoking the spirit of Ubuntu. This is a Zulu phrase that means: ‘I am because You are”. It underlies the ethic of inter-dependence and the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all Humanity.

The Human inter-connectedness is underlined in these times by the fact that no one can feel well when the community is unwell and suffering in a pandemic. Connecting with this universal truth can change our perception of the pandemic and how our inter-connected lives and actions can impact each other.

The pandemic is also compelling many Business enterprises to seriously invest resources in health, health facilities and mental health support for the first time. Here are some inspiring Compassionate actions taken by various Organizations during these times:

  • Companies set up Covid war rooms as they scrambled to source oxygen, medicines and hospital beds for infected employees.
  • Chairmen and CEOs have taken to addressing large Town halls, assuring people of no salary cuts during these trying times and urging Employees to undertake prevention measures to avoid getting infected
  • Many Companies are offering dial-in counseling and psychiatric help to Employees overwhelmed with changes in workplaces and homes that have impacted Motivation and Morale adversely
  • Task forces are working on a range of issues, including the work-from-home policy, availability of connectivity, health & well-being across the country, providing PPE kits to Employees, masks and sanitizers to family, and coordinating internal Communication & Collaboration between Employees
  • CEOs have been urging Staff to put their health and that of their families above everything else and urging them not to leave homes without masks and maintain safety protocols, while avoiding crowds
  • Some CEOs have been urging Teams to stay alert and continue safety measures to stop the spread, and some others have been role-modelling the right Leadership in these times by remaining directly accessible to staff should they need help during this health crisis
  • With the situation in some parts reeling out of control, leading Companies have also started tapping private healthcare providers to conduct on-site and off-campus Covid vaccination drives for the entire workforce, at Company cost
  • It has been uncommon to offer Company-wide paid holidays to prioritize crisis situations or simply to catch one’s breath for those who have stepped in and taken on additional tasks to support colleagues and their families reeling under the new Covid wave. Many are experiencing fatigue and burnout and, given the grim situation, companies are reacting to this by giving people conscious breaks to refresh and rejuvenate
  • It is not uncommon to have planned cooler conversations and coffee breaks to exchange notes and offer help to each other where possible
  • Internal communication has been intensified, like it must in a crisis. Many Organizations, though, are also following a ‘No Radio’ day once a week to reduce the burden of video and phone calls, and work in the quiet instead, to allow Employees to slow down, especially those who are overwhelmed

This Commitment, Solidarity and attempts for creating security are new and much-needed actions to truly integrate the ‘Human side of Enterprise’ with Business. There is an old African saying:

“When the beat of the Drumbeat changes, the Dance steps must Adapt.”

We are not only seeing new dance steps, we are seeing Leaders, Teams, Customers and the Community adapt.

On the flip side, we know stress can alter behaviour. It is increasingly not uncommon to see High-Performing and High-Functioning Employees show burnout and confusion during these times. Many Organizations are also experiencing a parallel pandemic of short tempers, increased sensitivities and emergence of avoidable conflicts.

Kindness and Compassion are muscles that can be built and are contagious for de-escalating panic. Kindness is also teachable and an important behaviour to Role-model as Teams face unprecedented obstacles every day.

Compassion is not a Soft skill – it is a Business skill and Organizations and Leaders are now learning how to integrate Compassion with Business decisions every day.

The American author Henry James had said,

“Three things in Human life are important: the first is to be Kind, the second is to be Kind, and the third is to be Kind.”

The pandemic continues to be a live classroom…

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