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6 Startups And SMEs That Take Care Of Their Employees Amidst The Coronavirus Crisis

You would expect these altruistic efforts from big corporations, but there are also a few startups and small/medium-sized enterprises that prioritize the wellbeing of their employees

Photo by Jopwell from Pexels

This year, Labor Day doesn’t seem like a cause for celebration. Due to the coronavirus, one of the biggest drawbacks faced by the working force has a lot to do with the halting of business operations, which consequently affects their job security and financial stability. Countless people lost their jobs after social distancing measures to contain the pandemic, or are at the very least suspended until lockdowns in each state start to ease.

However, there are a few fortunate ones who work for companies that find ways to keep their employees. You would expect these altruistic efforts from big corporations, but there are also a few startups and small/medium-sized enterprises that prioritize the wellbeing of their employees.  Here are 6 startups and small/medium-sized businesses that are doing everything they can to take care of their human resources in the Philippines: 

Star 8 Green Technology. Founded only in 2016, Star 8 Green Technology Corp. is already leading the country’s application of green technology by providing green solutions that benefit everyone’s daily lives. They are the leading provider of modern and green Public Utility Vehicles under the government’s PUV modernization program which aims to provide the country with a greener and healthier environment through the use of alternative fuel and renewable solar energy. Due to the enhanced community quarantine, the ceasing of public transport inevitably affected the startup.

“Since we supply electric vehicles and solar lights, and are also delving into an automated fare collection system and a fleet management system, the lockdown has affected our operations. However, amidst the crisis, our company is still paying full salaries to its employees. The management also gives financial assistance to employees who are unable to work from home due to certain limitations such as poor internet connection, or to those whose work used to require them to be onsite,” said Star 8 Green Technology Managing Director Ronald V. Laurel.

Even during the crisis, the company still provides free online training to enhance their employees’ knowledge and skills. They believe that this will keep them productive during quarantine. However, the startup’s compassion doesn’t stop with its employees. 

“In partnership with the government and some of our clients, we provide free transportation to frontliners using our solar electric PUVs. We also give financial support to transport cooperatives and transport corporations. Lastly, we designed a clip that you can attach to any cap or hat to create a face shield, and we shared a file online so that other people with 3D printers can create their own DIY face shields,” said Laurel.  

iPrice Group Sdn Bhd. Being a startup, iPrice Group is only a few years old but it is Southeast Asia’s leading E-commerce aggregator by allowing shoppers to find the best prices and deals in just one site. It operates in several Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines. Although it is based in Kuala Lumpur, it has employed 11 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from different regions such as Davao, Cebu, and Metro Manila. Like most companies, iPrice has experienced some difficulties in operations due to the simultaneous lockdowns and strict movement control that affected the supply chain in several SEA countries. However, it is not in the company’s consideration to sacrifice any of its employees at all. Instead, the upper management of the company took 25-40% pay cuts to ensure that their employees did not.

“The leadership team believes that in order to maintain productivity, layoffs and unpaid leaves are not the solution to keep the business going. With this, the company is subsidizing mobile data usage because of work and still pay full salaries to their employees to which I am thankful for. The leadership team also took a step to ease the monthly expenditure by decreasing their monthly salaries in exchange for shares; a program that is also extended as an option to employees voluntarily. During Covid-19, I am thankful to be in a company that cares for its employees,” said Marjorie Mae Mendoza, an OFW who works as Content Team Lead in iPrice. 

Even before the movement control order started in Malaysia, iPrice Group has already taken measures to ensure their employees’ safety by subsidizing Grab rides to avoid public transport for its employees. Since the movement control order in Malaysia, iPrice’s Human Resource checks in on everyone’s welfare through surveys and conducts AMA sessions with the CEO to maintain transparency every week. 

“iPrice has always been a people-centered company in many aspects. From the values and processes, it has always centered on people. The leadership emphasizes that by keeping their employees happy and fulfilled, you can achieve better productivity. I joined the company when it was just months old and it has always been like that. They have always emphasized your career growth by sponsoring in-house and external training, coaching sessions, and more,” said Mendoza. 

iPrice also offers “Stay Home Promos” to the public for discounted groceries or delivery fees during the lockdown.

Esports International, Inc. a medium-sized enterprise that aims to promote the culture of wellness and active living in the Philippines, Esports International, Inc., was also affected by the worldwide pandemic. Esports mainly supplies, installs, and maintains facilities with quality sports surfaces (such as the oval track used for the SEA Games 2019) and gym equipment. Given that their nature of business involves a lot of construction and installations, a big part of their operations is on hold. Nonetheless, they still ensure that their employees are well taken care of amidst COVID-19’s muddle. 

“When the lockdown began, the company advanced a month’s salary for everyone so employees can purchase and comply with the enhanced community quarantine. On April 15, the upper management took a pay cut to advance our 13-month salaries. This May, we are scheduled to receive unused sick leave and vacation leave pay,” said Esports Customer Support and Service Manager Jasmin Joseph.

Esports is constantly looking for more ways to keep supporting their employees despite the business being on pause. The administration and finance team have contacted DSWD, DOLE, and SSS for assistance. 

“Charity always starts at home. Our CEO has always been transparent with me when it comes to helping her employees or contractual laborers. For instance, I am aware that a handful of our contractual laborers have been given a budget to buy food and essentials,” said Joseph. 

Outside of the company, Esports took the time and effort to donate to affected communities. Some of its managers have also voluntarily donated PPEs to frontliners and packed relief goods for those in need.

InterAsia Outsource, Inc. Before the lockdown, InterAsia Outsource, Inc., a Philippine overseas land-based manpower company, deployed Filipino workers from various fields in countries like South Africa, Panama, Australia, and Japan. Since then, their operations to safely deploy OFWs have stopped due to travel restrictions caused by the pandemic. The business’ employees still worked from home with full pay despite the drawbacks. 

“We are monitored closely by our HR department by way of bi-weekly questionnaires regarding the status of our household. Due to the difficult food procurement situation in the country, the company has made it a point to provide all its employees with a monthly supply of rice worth Php2,000.00, which are delivered straight to our doorsteps. Financial support is also constantly being offered to any employee in need, especially those who have been hit the worst by the crisis,” said InterAsia Outsource Business Development Officer Miguel Querubin.

The business also ensures that the OFWs they deployed are safely repatriated back home during this crisis. They secure the workers’ flight tickets and coordinate with their families on the proper repatriation protocol based on their consultations with POEA and OWWA.

Transglobe Logistics International, Inc. Transglobe Logistics International Inc. is a total logistics provider that delivers any type of cargo and freight – from land delivery (trucking, motorcycle, etc.), to air freight, sea freight, and even warehousing in the Philippines. Due to COVID-19,  95% of the medium-sized business’ clientele had to temporarily shut down which inevitably affected the company.

“We still made it a point to still be able to pay our employees as long as we can, including the few that are “on-call” even if there is practically no work to be done. We have realized through the years that beyond the services we offer, it is our people that are of utmost importance to us and to the company,” said Transglobe Logistics Business Development Manager Timothy Kairuz. 

The company recognizes the people’s dire need to receive assistance and compensation during a crisis like this. Many do not receive enough assistance from the government and rely on other sources such as their employers. 

“Knowing that our employees’ families are able to receive substantial help gives us fulfillment,” said Kairuz.   

Geographic Resources United Pan Pacific, Inc. GRUPP Inc. is a process engineering business specialized in electrical and mechanical works. Their services include the manufacturing and installation of equipment for food and beverage industries, heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems, fire detection, wastewater treatment, and many more. Due to the enhanced community quarantine, the business is faced with zero operations. 

“Over the years in the industry, we have always treated our employees as family and valued their loyalty as they have been with us during the ups and downs of our company. We made sure that despite the zero operations due to our site lockdown, they are still compensated every cut-off period. Aside from that, we provided them with financial loans and allowances for their essential needs,” said GRUPP Inc. Chief Operating Officer Anthony Laborte. 

The engineering company also provides food and shelter to their employees who are unable to go back to their provinces due to the strict lockdown restrictions. However, their generosity does not stop within the business. They were also involved in the construction of an emergency quarantine facility in Manila City’s Araullo High School, which aims to provide 50 rooms to extend assistance to the rapidly growing number of COVID-19 cases. 

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