Spirits company gives 'Extra Miles Bonus' shares as COVID-19 incentive
Employees reallydid step up atthe height ofCOVID-19, saysHR DirectorJacquelineCuthbert.

At the start of the novel coronaviruspandemic arou nd March into April 2020, J Wray & Nephew embarked on a work-off-site programme for around 70 per cent of its staff, who were outfitted with the requisite tools to get the job done.

By providing items such as computers, desks, stationery, and assisting with telecommunications bills and lunch subsidies, the company managed to maintain output from pre-pandemic levels. But it also created a climate of self-management by employees, which the company's director of human resources has hailed as a success.

With that in mind, the spirits company, a member of the Italy-headquartered Campari Group, will continue with that model for sometime yet.

Even before another gear is engaged as part of that ongoing process though, the company has rewarded those employees who went the extra mile, in a sense meaning almost everyone, with an incentive aptly called 'Extra Miles Bonus', a one-time share offering that gained warm embrace by those who qualified.

“In recognition of how the company operated during this period when there were so many challenges and we saw that employees really did step up, in terms of a 'thank you', the company decided to award every single employee free shares at no cost to them and that amount was determined by two factors – base salary, and the share price, and all the employees had to do was sign up for it and they would receive those shares, which they are able to vest, cash in after three years, which means they would have to be in employment with the company to cash those in. Should they leave the organisation before three years, they would not be able to cash them in,” Cuthbert told the Jamaica Observer in a midweek interview.

As for the work-from-home reality, Cuthbert insists that it will be a part of the company's reality henceforth.

“Remote working is now the norm because our landscape remains the same. And even when we are back to normal, remote working will trigger for us a new way of working. We have overcome two main challenges – firstly, the connectivity, and we have a culture that it's play hard, work hard. That's what we have been able to maintain. Secondly, productivity is not being impacted. We don't have a culture where people need to be micro-managed. We tend to drive performance through targets. You don't have to beat your desk to show that you are performing, as meeting your targets is the real thing.

“We have built in a culture trust where your performance is judged on the output. For example, I do not do a nine to five. I may choose not to do the morning, and then I choose to work in the evenings and the weekends. So it empowers us to treat us alike as adults. And we have a culture that is adapting to it very well, so we are better able to manage our systems right now,” she said.

For those who need to be in physical attendance, largely production workers, Cuthbert said that a special incentive has been introduced.

“For the frontline workers who have not benefited from the remote package, we will be launching a wellness programme, because one of the drivers we have is built around the whole mind, body, and spirit focus. Leading a healthy lifestyle is expensive and at the same time we want to encourage our staff to have a healthier lifestyle.

“We recognise also that there was a portion of the company that was receiving support for remote working, so we need to also adjust the other population that we have. In a unionised population we are launching a wellness programme where every employee will be able to access up to a certain amount of money to spend or contribute to anything that speaks to their well-being. So they can spend it on membership to a gym, weight-loss programme, purchase of vitamims, a retreat ... we are making it very loose.

“The idea is not one size fits all. This is primarily given to those who are unionised at our Spanish Town Road, Clarendon and St Elizabeth locations,” she said, adding that it is an effort to allow employees to really appreciate the value of the gift.

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

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