Imagine a global multinational mining company with 90,000+ employees and contractors spanning more than 18 operations, 13 countries and 5 continents with a matrix of business units each with their own unique culture, languages and functional requirements.
COVID-19 pandemic hits
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down operations as well as just about every country in the world. All over, frontline workers were sent home, some traveling miles to reach remote locations uncertain when they’ll be able to return and fearful for their health and future.
As governments struggled to decide between economic activity and public health and safety, companies had to grapple with trade restrictions and new compliance requirements. It took weeks for some semblance of production to resume at operations, and even then, business was far from usual. They needed to comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines, conform to a stringent list of new rules, limit the number of employees on site, change processes to maintain social distancing and a sterile workplace, and keep abreast of a myriad of changing regulations. But how does one get frontline employees back onsite amidst travel restrictions? How were they to capture and process thousands of compulsory COVID-19 screening forms? How should they coordinate business ramp-up? Anglo American were quick to respond to questions from workers all over the globe, such as: Do I still have a job? When will I be paid? When can I return? What if I get sick? How will I keep my family safe?
The Solution In 2019, Anglo American had begun to roll out a digital means of communicating with their global frontline workforce. After progressing through a competitive tender process competing against global service providers, Anglo American chose Wyzetalk, a leading global employee experience solution with more than 650,000 users across the globe in various market verticals including Mining, Retail, FMCG, and Hospitality.
The Wyzetalk solution for Anglo American, called Engage, and for its subsidiary De Beers, also called Engage, has provided the company a direct digital channel of communication to its entire workforce with communications being delivered to any mobile device via a company branded mobi-site and mobile app for smartphone users and a text-based USSD channel for non-smartphone users.
Having this mobile-first communications ecosystem in place proved invaluable at the start of the COVID-19 crisis for Anglo American in helping them reach their frontline employees wherever they were in the world. But more than that, Wyzetalk was able to share time-critical information, and health and wellness information that these frontline workers could share with their families and communities.
Working with Wyzetalk’s expert team of software developers and communications professionals, Anglo American undertook these critical steps to respond to the crisis:
1. They shared accurate messages and content to all employees, establishing Anglo American Engage as a trusted source of COVID-19 information. Considering the amount of sensational and inaccurate news that was circulating it was critically important for Anglo American to keep open communication channels, which also meant allowing employees to ask questions of the business.
2. Needing to expand the Engage platform’s reach, they opened up registration to contractors too, where it was originally limited to employees only. While working with each of the Business Units and sites, and while complying with regulations, the uptake of members radically increased.
3. They responded to the new COVID-19 safety requirements which required critical, manual HR processes to be redesigned and digitised. They fast-tracked this digitisation, starting with personalised messages to employees to return to work, and incentivised those who worked through the shutdown, with electronic vouchers.
4. Working in collaboration with Anglo American, Wyzetalk enabled a shift from paper-based daily COVID-19 screening assessments to a digitised process that links directly with the time and attendance system. This digital process has also helped connect Anglo American's health team to employees that are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
5.Lastly, the company used the Engage platform to activate their business continuity framework in order to minimise losses and get production up and running quickly, while caring for the health and well-being of the workforce, their families and communities.
By rolling out Wyzetalk’s digital employee experience solution, Anglo American has been able to achieve the following (see table below):
Since the digitisation and integration of communications and HR business processes through their Engage platform, Anglo American employees are more informed whilst the company has saved time and money through eliminating manual processes. By digitising and automating the self screening requirements, Anglo American is now able to manage the crisis better by preventing workers who are displaying symptoms from coming to work, and accurately mapping COVID-19 levels per operation, per region and per country.
By capitalising on the crisis to drive communication, innovation and accelerated digitisation, Anglo American was not only able to support their frontline workers through crisis but also work towards coming back from a global economic crisis, building better, building stronger and laying the building blocks for years of prosperity to come.