In a letter to all employees of Network18 and Viacom18, Rahul Joshi poured his heart out to all the frontline news personnel who are constantly reporting on Covid-19 and assured everyone that safety and securities of all employees is his utmost priority.
Read on as is…
It is two months since the Janata Curfew when we began giving up a normal life and its freedoms to fight and prevail against the coronavirus. In this time, our topmost priority has been and will continue to be, the health and well-being of each and every one of our colleagues. I have written often to share my thoughts and our company’s actions in this regard.
First, my heartfelt gratitude to all colleagues, who have kept calm and carried on tirelessly in the face of enormous adversity. Many of you have shown exemplary courage, fortitude and presence of mind to keep yourselves and your families safe and India were well-informed about the story of our times. I am proud to lead this team.
I am also proud of the fact that we reacted early and have in place a comprehensive set of measures to keep ourselves and our families out of harm’s way. We have also drawn extensively upon the resources and expertise of our parent, Reliance Industries, to implement a plan of action that has served us very well so far.
Over the past two months, we have tested more than 700 colleagues and their immediate families. Because of the strict work protocols, we have put in place, the cases that have been detected have not spread the infection in the workplace. From among the more than 7,000 employees across the length and breadth of India, only 16 colleagues have tested positive. Most of them have recovered and many are asymptomatic. We have tested most colleagues at Reliance facilities and treated them and their families at RIL’s hospitals.
I would like to list some of our key initiatives here to reassure colleagues of our preparedness and planning as we deal with this epidemic:
My mantra from day one has been Safety First. The protection of our colleagues is at the heart of our strategy. Ratings may have suffered in some weeks for some channels, but we know our priorities. There can be no compromise on the safety of our people.
Except for those at the frontlines of a TV news broadcast, all others are working from home. We have made arrangements so that those working from home can do so as if it were business-as-usual.
Teams are working in batches that don’t come in contact with each other. Employees also take turns working alternate weeks. Although this has meant that we are operating with much smaller teams than our regular strength, this practice has the merit of safety.
In most cases, we have established or used alternate facilities to stay safe. We work apart yet stay together.
All employees are equipped with masks, gloves, sanitizers and immunity-boosting vitamin pills. Many reporters in the frontlines are armed with PPE suits. Every square-inch of our facilities is disinfected with anti-viral treatment and cleaned daily, and deep-cleaning takes place several times a week. All mass-contact surfaces are cleaned with disinfectants many times daily. Many of you have given feedback that our hygiene standards are the best in the news industry.
Reporters and camerapersons never enter the news floor, or indeed the office premises. All outdoor equipment is disinfected daily, and so are cabs. Reporters and camera teams are being equipped with protective kits.
The Covid tracker application, an early innovation from Reliance, has been keeping a close eye on symptoms. If there is the slightest hint that someone is unwell with signs of coronavirus, Reliance doctors take charge. They have been on call for any emergency and continue to provide consultation. This has helped in tracing a few colleagues early on, which has helped in early isolation and treatment.
Every positive case has been followed up with meticulous contact-tracing. We have tested more than 700 of our employees in the past couple of months. Sixteen have tested positive, but in the circumstances, it is an extraordinary statistic and a testament to all our efforts.
Where possible, all those who have tested positive, and their families, have been cared for at Reliance’s facilities.
Because of all this, our styles may have gotten a bit cramped but there was never a day any of our channels could not go live.
Our organization and our people have reacted to this crisis in a manner that is worthy of emulation and admiration. I have heard colleagues tell me of editors and proprietors of competing channels calling us to learn about our best-practices so that they could implement these themselves.
Thank You Messages from Network18 employees
I want to share excerpts of thank-you messages from our colleagues, not for any other reason but to give you comfort that we place the safety of our colleagues ahead of everything else.
Manish Jain, who works with tech ops in Mumbai and has recovered from Covid, wrote into HR to convey this:
“Please accept my deepest gratitude for your support in that difficult time. Your support has been invaluable to me and I could not imagine how would I be able to survive in those critical days without your help. I remember Sanjeev sir’s effective steps helped me to get admitted in the hospital quickly when my test result came positive. The organization also arranged medical check-ups and sample collection for my family at home on the same day and sent necessary medicines to them. This effort was speechless.
I would like to take a special moment to thanks all HR team, Teleport team, Reliance hospital team, and in last but not least RELIANCE FAMILY for being with me and my family in those days.”
Shrikant Parab, a colleague in News18- Lokmat in Mumbai, had to endure several family members coming down with Covid and sadly even lost his father. He wrote these lines:
“Aapne meri har kadam par madat ki.Kathin samay mein mera pura ssath diya.Suna tha ki insan mein Bhagwan hota hai..Aapke roop mein mujhe bhi mila. Mera poore parivaar ko aapne fir se zinda kiya. Jitnabhi thank you likhu, kam hai”
Mazhar Khan from the Mumbai creative team was diagnosed with Covid positive, as was his entire family. They have been discharged and he had this to say:
“I want to sincerely express my gratitude and thanks to you… I cannot tell you how much this has meant to my family and me. We were not sure what we were going to do because of our situation, but your help and assistance came just in time for our family to get back on track and we thank you all very much. It is greatly appreciated.”
These snippets are just a snapshot of the numerous such messages our HR colleagues have been receiving in the past few weeks. Team HR, admin, and facilities have been the silent warriors, working days, and often late-nights, to ensure that the rest of us can work without difficulties. Please join me in thanking and clapping for our own Covid Warriors.
Finally, it’s not the time to let our guard down; rather we must be much more vigilant and faithfully follow all the protocols that we have put in place. Let us continue to wear masks and insist that our colleagues also do so. Gloves should be worn, too, and we must be scrupulous about social distancing. No risks, please.
As we enter the crucial phase in the fight against the coronavirus disease, let’s continue to fire with the same zeal and passion but take even more care to stay safe. In the coming weeks and months we will also face the challenge of rebuilding our business. Network 18 needs all your strength and support.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and take care of your family and friends.