MANILA – Ayala Corporation’s Managing Director JP Orbeta bares how company’s human resources units address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and fulfill their commitment as responsible employers at the panel discussion “The New People People” hosted by The Economist.
Ayala Corporation is one of the three Philippine corporations that made it to Forbes’ 2021 list of the World’s Best Employers. This recognition follows Ayala’s merit of excellence award from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and another gold from Gawad Pandayon by PANA, the country’s biggest advertiser group.
Speaking alongside HR leaders from another ‘best employer’ Standard Chartered and tech startup Zilingo, Orbeta said Ayala has always had a people-first perspective in addressing the COVID-19, prioritizing the health and well-being of employees across the group.
“There was never a question about making sure that we continue to pay our employees despite them not physically coming to work. The true north for leaders is ‘What is the right thing to do here?’” Orbeta said.
Beginning March of last year, Ayala empowered its personnel to work efficiently and effectively under a remote setting and in the workplace which it calls ‘Work Where Effective’ weeks before government announced the nationwide lockdown.
Ayala also rolled out a groupwide COVID response package, covering all employees, business partners, customers, and the broader population. As of October 2021, Ayala Group has allocated over P19.5 billion for this response package.
- Groupwide emergency financial response package for direct and indirect employees’ salary continuance, leave conversions, and loan deferments;
- A quarantine facility for employees called Ayala Group Employee Care Center;
- A dedicated healthcare hotline and teleconsultation service, including an in-house bot called Assistant during Crises and Emergencies (ACE) for daily health and risk assessments to monitor employees and household members;
- Work-from-home arrangement and online resources for re-tooling and upskilling, as well as shuttle services for essential workers who needed to be physically present at work;
- A re-entry plan that included redesigning the workplace and providing tools and protective equipment;
- Administration of one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for employees and their registered dependents and business partners; over 500,000 doses have been administered to date; and
- An all-in-one healthcare app called HealthNow, which offers teleconsultation, online medicine ordering and delivery, and clinic and diagnostic testing booking.
According to Orbeta, Ayala also prioritized employees of vendor partners given their crucial role to the value chain. From 60,000 direct employees, Ayala Group extended its service to its 120,000 indirect employees.
Inspired by the group’s caring gesture, Ayala employees gave back to vulnerable communities by raising over P149 million through an internal program called Project Pananagutan, which benefitted staff under no-work, no-pay arrangement, public hospitals, and vulnerable families in Metro Manila and Cavite. Some employees also donated to Project Ugnayan, a private sector consortium-led response to feed the hungry, which raised P1.7 billion and distributed grocery vouchers to over 2.8 million families or 14 million individuals in Greater Manila Area during the first months of the lockdown in 2020.
For Ayala, the overall well-being of the people within and outside its companies is at the center of its operations. At the core of Ayala’s pride is its HR departments organized to manifest the company’s commitment to its primary asset – its people.
“When they know that your company will put the people above everything else, it sends a huge message across that this is a place that really takes care of its people,” Orbeta noted.
John Philip S. Orbeta has been recently appointed as Chief Administrative Officer and Chief HR Officer of AC Energy. He served as Chief Human Resources Officer of Ayala Corporation for 16 years.
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