Aboitiz fosters team member engagement & empowerment amid ECQ woes

Aboitiz fosters team member engagement & empowerment amid ECQ woes

It has been nearly two months since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was imposed in Luzon to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). With this ECQ came the mandate for the Aboitiz Group to have the vast majority of its existing workforce work from home (WFH). And since day one, the Aboitiz Group has ensured that its team members (Aboitiz refers to its employees as team members) remain engaged and empowered, with their mental health,  continuous learning, and overall well-being prioritized.

“With the global fight against COVID-19, we are truly living in uncertain times. We, however, still have the power to choose to embrace a positive attitude and to strengthen our adaptability to change,” said Sabin M. Aboitiz, Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

For one, the Aboitiz Group managed to digitally welcome its new team members on board with the very first Aboitiz Virtual New Hires Orientation, beginning with a business unit onboarding followed by a Welcome Aboard hosted by no less than CEO Sabin Aboitiz. This move made the process of joining the company much easier and less stressful despite the ECQ, making new team members feel they instantly belong.

Mentimeter, an interactive presentation software where qualitative feedback can be immediately given during a presentation showed that the Aboitiz Group’s new hires collectively described the session as informative, helpful, and interesting.

And in line with the company’s core value of innovation, the Aboitiz Group’s learning resource, Aboitiz Academy, has ramped up its online learning and development initiatives. Throughout the ECQ, Aboitiz Academy has continued to offer practical e-learning courses, either in-house or through partners such as LinkedIn Learning. This initiative helps team members remain knowledgeable and productive, and helps satisfy any educational needs during the ECQ.

Meantime, with the digital takeover in the day-to-day activities of the rest of the team members, various business units across the group, including holding company Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. maximized the digital platform, planning and implementing numerous initiatives per business unit that would help the team members cope with the anxiety and stress attached to the crisis.

AboitizPower president and chief operating officer Emmanuel V. Rubio praised AboitizPower’s team members’ resilience amid the ECQ with some of them working on a two-week rotation to help keep power plants running. “It is a real human tragedy as it involves the health and well-being of our team members but those remain our utmost priority.”

Social creatures

AboitizPower holds “E-Zoomba“ sessions (Zumba done over Zoom, a video conferencing software) while AboitizLand’s The Outlets at Lipa shares online yoga classes in the Aboitiz Group Online Resource Application (AGORA) – the group’s online communication platform. 

Infrastructure business unit Aboitiz InfraCapital has its “Infra Social Board” where team leaders–led by president and chief executive officer Cosette Canilao–post encouraging messages to “energize” its team members. Canilao said apart from a skeleton workforce for unit Lima Water Corporation, the rest of the team members in the infrastructure business unit are on WFH arrangement.

While it is key in keeping team members at a heightened level of collaboration, it is also important to ensure that their engagement is not limited to work.

“We cannot forget that human beings are very social creatures. I think it is important to also ensure that we stay engaged outside office hours,” said Tristan R. Aboitiz, Pilmico President and CEO. 

Also on AGORA, to lighten the mood of team members, Aboitiz Corporate HR, the Aboitiz Digital team, and the Aboitiz Foundation launched “Bare Your Hair: #NoShaveChallenge,” an activity encouraging team members, at home since March 16, to post selfies showcasing their facial hair for reactions, with each reaction corresponding to a donation amount. 

All donations will be turned over to the COVID-19 fundraising campaign Help Our Health Workers Fight COVID-19 which was set up by the Aboitiz Foundation through the online donations platform KINDer by Aboitiz (KINDer.aboitiz.com).

This donation page will help raise funds for personal protective equipment for medical frontliners in coordination with the University of the Philippines Medical Foundation and The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service Foundation.

Clear communication

Online town hall sessions between the team members and their leaders proved to be an effective way to keep the former in tune with the business direction, ongoing initiatives related to the COVID-19 crisis, business continuity management plans, as well as ensure that all their concerns and issues are being addressed.

“Communication is key,” said Union Bank of the Philippines president and chief executive officer Edwin Bautista, emphasizing the need to have a proper, working structure that gets the information from the top down to the team members.

This was echoed by AboitizLand president David Rafael: “See the situation as a challenge, not a paralyzing tragedy,” noting the importance of “regular and transparent communication on everything that matters.”

To directly gain feedback on the status of team members, the Aboitiz Group also initiated COVID-19 Pulse Check, an online chat-survey conducted from March 23 to 27 to ask how the team members and their families are holding up with the ECQ in place. Aboitiz team members working from home reported they “feel safer because they are home and working comfortably” while team members on-site reported they are “doing well, feeling safe, and have their daily supplies provided for.”

The Aboitiz Food Group (consisting of Pilmico and Gold Coin) has also held digital town halls across various operating units in South East Asia, while Aboitiz Construction, which has several project sites nationwide, conducts daily virtual check-in sessions–which Albert A. Ignacio, Jr., Aboitiz Construction President and Chief Operating Officer has described as “very helpful.”

Online consultations

To assist team members with urgent medical needs such as medicine prescription and home remedies, Aboitiz Group retained the services of its corporate doctors and nurse in Manila. They have been available for online consultations since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. A registered online counselor is also available to help team members with specific counseling concerns.

The Aboitiz Corporate HR also initiated an information session last April 1 entitled “Managing Stress and Anxiety in Times of Crisis (COVID-19)” featuring Dr. Joyce Maglaque of The Medical City. Dr. Maglaque gave useful and concrete tips on handling a stressful environment amid the threat of COVID-19, and also answered questions from team members after the session.

The company also set up last April 7 a Mental Health and Well-Being Page on the COVID-19 Aboitiz Group Microsite. The page contains articles, courses, and other digital materials — including a “good vibes” music playlist — all dedicated to raising awareness and commitment to Aboitiz team members’ health and wellness.

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