Proactive employee engagement key to allaying Covid19 uncertainty

Covid-19’s arrival in Namibia last week turned the country upside down with emergency measures announced and implemented to prevent the spread of the virus within the borders of Namibia.

27 March 2020 | Short News

Stephanie Viljoen



General uncertainty as to the impact the pandemic will have on our daily lives was prevalent, leaving many with more questions than answers about what the new normal will be.

By its very nature, Covid-19 has created a crisis for both the government and the private sector, who immediately had to activate their contingency action plans to start mitigating the expected disruption such a pandemic may have on daily business.

From a human capital perspective, employees are the core of our business, and they had many questions and understandably fears and anxiety. Not because they did not know what Covid-19 entails but rather what the impact will be on their personal and daily work lives.

With schools and aftercare facilities announced to be on lockdown, many employees were left in a predicament when they had to arrange for the care and supervision of their children on short notice.

One of the key success factors in dealing with crisis is proper and rapid communication to your employees.

What we did

Conscious of the fact that Covid19 was approaching our shores, Capricorn Group communicated to all its employees in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia and South Africa preventive measures to be taken, including travel advisories. Awareness of identifying symptoms and general preventative techniques also formed part of the communication.

Yet, emails and WhatsApp groups alone were not enough to keep our employees up to date after the first cases in Namibia were reported over a weekend.

This is when our internal employee mobi site MyCapricorn was utilised to inform and update employees in all four countries on what Capricorn Group was doing to respond to the imminent crisis.

MyCapricorn is Capricorn Group’s exclusive employee mobi site where employees can register to view and take part in internal initiatives. Though still in its infancy, it served as a universal platform for all our employees to stay abreast of latest developments and proactive measures we were taking to allay fears and uncertainty. Employees were alerted to important updates by way of SMS. By logging in via their mobile devices, employees could read what management had decided before they returned to work on Monday and were prepared as to what was expected, what help was available and what needed to be done. The site also allows employees to ask questions relating to aspects they may be unsure about including how to inform their supervisors of travel arrangements, emergency numbers and frequently asked questions.

Capricorn Group activated the Covid-19 Communication Hub to ensure that communication and information to employees and other stakeholders are planned and that efforts of Capricorn Group and all its subsidiaries are coordinated. The company’s intranet also serves as a central information point where employees can access the latest updates, advisories and ask questions relating to remote working and medical aid assistance.

In making use of online technology that is easily accessible and understood by our employees MyCapricorn serves as an innovative tool for communication to employees now that some have to work remotely.

The magnitude of what the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will have on Namibia is still uncertain. But what is certain is that pro-active communication with employees plays a key role in how we will deal with the pandemic and most importantly, how we will deal with its aftermath to mitigate negative impacts on our organisation.

*Stephanie Viljoen is the group executive for human capital and citizenship at Capricorn Group

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