South Africa’s recent lockdown is just the beginning of an uncertain journey into the future, but the principles of every responsible business should remain unchanged.
This is Weir Minerals Africa’s key takeout from the rapid changes and innovations it has put in place in recent weeks, according to regional managing director Gavin Dyer.
“We took a proactive approach to reposition our business for the lockdown period,” says Dyer.
“This ensured that employees were safe, and that we stayed in close contact with staff and customers – making communication a central focus.”
Under the potentially stressful lockdown conditions, the company’s long-established Employee Wellness Programme has been further adapted for remote use.
Its counselling hotline has been particularly well used, helping employees as they deal with a range of issues from childcare to financial management.
In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the company put in place various hygiene measures and standard operating protocols at its offices and manufacturing facilities, and was able to equip about 40% of staff to work remotely.
It has leveraged the power of digital communication platforms to both provide information to stakeholders and to gather their input and ideas. Live webinars and online video conferences have ensured that there is constant contact with employees and customers.
“Not only have we managed a high level of business continuity for our customers, but we have also encouraged our employees to consider how we can contribute to broader society,” he says.
“Our holistic business approach is based on our responsibility to a wide range of stakeholders. This continues to apply even – perhaps especially – under the current coronavirus conditions.”
Discussions within the business have raised ideas about how Weir Minerals Africa can make the country’s workplaces, homes and public spaces safer in the world where virus infection is now a constant threat.
“We will apply our engineering and design expertise to the best ideas, and hope to encourage some useful innovations,” he says.
The company is also supporting South Africa’s Solidarity Fund with a corporate donation of R1 million. Dyer says another step has been to challenge other members of his executive team to follow his example of making a personal donation to the fund.
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Looking ahead, he says Weir Minerals Africa will be making more use of online communications channels in its various interactions with customers, helping to ensure close compliance to coronavirus-related regulations.
The knowledge-sharing webinars offered to customers during the lockdown period showed the potential for value-added services that the business can offer to customers, in the safety of their own office space.