The ripple effects from the COVID-19 pandemic have caused many companies to conduct layoffs and furloughs to save the business.
That said, there are still companies that have been holding off on job cuts (at least temporarily) or offering other benefits to cushion employees during this situation.
According to iPrice Group, here are some startups and small or medium-sized businesses (SMEs) that have made a pledge to their employees to protect their jobs amidst the situation in Southeast Asia:
1. Motorist.sg (Singapore)
With Singapore's Circuit Breaker in place, many companies not deemed as essential businesses are unable to operate, resulting in an increase of non-operational costs.
However, many Singaporean companies continue to guarantee employment. Among them is Motorist.sg, a digital-first auto concierge company in Singapore.
To sustain the entire team, the company shifted its focus, generating sufficient revenue online. Along with the Singapore Government's support for SMEs through the Jobs Support Scheme, the company is able to maintain the operations without reducing wages despite the forecasted 80% drop in revenue.
Damian Sia, Founder, and CEO of Motorist, said: "However, the disappointment phase has passed, and my management team is focused on the survival of the business so as to support our team of over 40 employees without having to resort to any termination or pay reduction. Hence, our mindset has shifted from a 'growth' mindset to 'survival' mindset now.”
2. iPrice Group (Malaysia)
During Malaysia's Movement Control Order (MCO), many companies have faced difficulties in operations, including iPrice Group, an aggregator e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia
In conjunction with the Malaysian government’s regulation, the company did not consider sacrificing any employees. Instead, upper management took the initiative including 25-40% pay cuts to ensure that employees were not affected. Even prior to that, in consideration of employee safety, iPrice Group had subsidised Grab rides to help staff avoid public transportation.
While employees work from home, the Group's HR carries out weekly surveys to check on employee welfare. AMA (ask me anything) sessions were also conducted with the CEO every week to maintain transparency.
Putri Fadhila, an Operations Manager for the Categorisations team at iPrice Group, said: "During this period, there is one value resonating even more at iPrice than ever, which is transparency. As employees at any level in iPrice, we are aware and understand the reasoning behind why we as a team we shifted our focus on certain projects or new policies being introduced.
"Yet, transparency does not come from the leadership team only, teams are openly discussing the challenges they have encountered during work-from-home and finding ways together with their team or line manager to overcome it. Looking at this, I feel iPrice is closer together as a family more than ever. We are much more open and honest with one another."
3. Kopi Kenangan (Indonesia)
The Indonesian coffee beverage retailer, Kopi Kenangan, which aims to bridge the gap between cheap street vendor coffee and pricier drinks from international chains such as Starbucks, was also affected by the global pandemic.
CEO & Co-founder, Edward Tirtanata, allocated IDR 15bn to support workers, maintain hygiene at the workplace, and support frontline workers and hospitals during this tumultuous situation.
He said in a message posted on LinkedIn: "As the leader of Kopi Kenangan I will make the sacrifice first, from now onwards until the crisis is over I will be taking Rp1,- salary. Your salary and bonus (THR) will proceed as normal."
4. Loship (Vietnam)
With consumer behaviour shifting online, Loship, an e-commerce startup in Vietnam, had to bear with the increasing costs from the current situation. However, the company has made commitments to maintain its delivery services for the people in Vietnam and ensure no employees are retrenched.
Nguyen Hoang Trung, the CEO of Loship, said: “People are our most valuable asset and we will not cut or fire people to respond to a pandemic. We and our partners have come together and we are overcoming many challenges during the previous period. This COVID-19 pandemic is no exception as we will still go together."
The company recognises the importance of safety and security at work during this challenging situation. Hence, it provides precautionary equipment such as face masks, hand sanitisers, and has implemented body temperature checks at the office to protect its drivers and customers from the virus.
5. Star 8 Green Technology Corp (Philippines)
With Star 8 Green Technology Corp's main business being providing electric vehicles and solar lights, the ceasing of public transport has greatly affected the company's performance.
However, that did not stop the company from providing financial assistance to employees who are in need of work from home devices. The company believes that the current situation allows them to keep productive at home even during the crisis.
Ronald V. Laurel, Star 8 Green Technology's Managing Director, said: "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."