Jodie Tan, Asia Operations Manager: “It’s a challenging time, but consideration and collaboration will bring us further together.”Servicing China during the start of COVID-19, Jodie’s team quickly learned to think on their feet and improvise. Their experience dealing firsthand with the situation in China helped them deal with other regions in Asia when the virus spread in later weeks.
“We learned from the China experience, and we adapted the same approach in other countries,” Jodie said. “It helps to have that firsthand experience. The main thing we’re focusing on is contractor care — to let the contractor know that we are here to support you."
From monitoring health statuses and travel histories to educating about symptoms and preventive measures during weekly calls, every detail is covered: “We’ve improvised along the way as the whole situation’s evolved. We provide an emergency number to call in case of illness and give them tips on how to utilize their health insurance, how to get their policy number, things like that.”
Answering the hard questions
“When COVID-19 started in China, we started to see a lot of contractors and clients asking about medical insurance support, if they’re covered should the contractor get infected. We work closely with local health insurance partners to clarify these. Some contractors also ask about medevac, asking, ‘In this part of China, if I get sick, will I get medevaced back to my country?’”
“Some of them are being put on a sub quarantine. If they cannot go to work, of course they will have concerns about pay — whether their leave will be deducted or be hospitalization leave or sick leave — they have concerns about this, which we understand. We work very closely with the different clients depending on the policy and approach, and some clients look to us for advice.”
“In Singapore, for example, the ministry of health offers guidance: if some employees have to be on a 14-day quarantine, they will advise the employer and contractor to come to a mutual agreement and use their hospitalization leave first, because then you have more days and are not deducting their pay. It’s a difficult time for everybody, including the clients.”
Transparency and open communication are key“This situation requires us to react very quickly,” she said. “Things change day-by-day, especially when it first surfaced in China. Our clients didn’t know initially the best way to approach it, but we learned that partnering very closely with open communication and transparency is actually beneficial for everybody.”
“We can be very direct that we don't have the answer for everything, but we are exploring with the client and contractor to know what’s the best next step. People appreciate the transparency — even if we tell them we don't have the answer right now, we’re working on it and will update you. It’s all about managing expectations, and it's all about people, contractor care. This is what we learned over the last 2-3 months.”