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These Southeast Asian Startups Pledge to Help Their Employees Amidst the Unemployment Crisis

05 May 2020 | Deridian Nurhalim

As a wave of ripple effects from the coronavirus pandemic plummet the global economy in every sector, many companies have been faced with a staggering number of layoffs and furloughs to conserve business operations.

To ease this uncertainty, there are some companies that have been holding off on job cuts at least temporarily or offering other benefits to cushion employees during this situation. Here is the list of startups and small or medium-sized businesses that have made a pledge to their employees to protect their jobs amidst the situation in Southeast Asia:

Singapore

With the government announcing the latest measures to control the outbreak of COVID-19, many companies were not deemed as an essential business, hence, this resulted in the increase of business units’ non-operational costs.

Due to this, one of many Singaporean companies that guarantee to continue employment includes Motorist.sg, the first digital-first auto concierge company in Singapore, which has shifted its focus to sustain the entire team by generating sufficient revenue online. Along with the government’s support for SMEs through a 75% wage subsidy in all sectors in order to help businesses retain workers in the city-state for training, the company is also able to maintain the operations without reducing wages despite the forecasted 80% drop in revenue.

“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,” said Damian Sia, Founder, and CEO of Motorist.

Malaysia

Like most companies, iPrice Group, an aggregator e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia, has experienced some difficulties in operations due to the simultaneous lockdowns and strict movement control that affected the supply chain in several SEA countries.

In conjunction with the Malaysian government’s regulation, it is not in the company’s consideration to sacrifice any of its employees at all. Instead, the company’s higher management took certain actions such as 25-40% pay cuts to ensure that their employees did not.

Even prior to the restricted movement order in Malaysia, iPrice Group has subsidised Grab rides to avoid public transportation to ensure their employees’ safety. During the work-from-home period, iPrice’s Human Resource checks in on everyone’s welfare through weekly surveys and conducts AMA sessions with the CEO to maintain transparency every week.

“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,” said Putri Fadhila, an Operations Manager for the Categorisations team at iPrice Group.

In a bid to aid Singaporeans, iPrice aggregated all deals provided by e-commerce for consumers to easily access vital resources for necessities on “Stay Home Promos” during this lockdown period.

Indonesia

The Indonesian coffee beverage retailer, Kopi Kenangan, aims to bridge the gap between cheap street vendor coffee and drinks at the higher spectrum from international chains such as Starbucks. This startup was also affected by the global pandemic.

Given the nature of the business in the F&B industry, the CEO & Co-founder of the company has allocated IDR 15 billion funds to support workers, maintain hygiene at the workplace, and support frontline workers and hospitals during this tumultuous situation.

“As a leader in Kopi Kenangan, I will make the sacrifice first, from now onwards until the crisis is over, I will be taking of IDR 1 salary. Employees’ salaries and bonus (THR) will proceed as normal,” said Kopi Kenangan CEO and Co-founder Edward Tirtanata on his LinkedIn page.

Vietnam

With the consumer behavior shifting online, Loship, the aspiring unicorn startup that operates Vietnam’s e-commerce platform, had to bear with the increasing costs from the current situation. However, the company has made similar commitments to ensure no retrenchment and maintenance of its delivery services for the people in Vietnam.

“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,” said Nguyen Hoang Trung, the CEO of Loship.

The company recognizes the importance of people’s safety and security at work during this challenging situation. However, their level of caring does not stop there as the online e-commerce platform also provides precautionary equipment such as face masks, hand sanitisers, and body temperature checks at the office to protect their drivers and customers from the virus.

The Philippines

As the leading green technology that provides a healthier life through a cleaner environment, Star 8 Green Technology Corp. 's operations have already been affected due to the enhanced community quarantine.

With the goal to provide the country with a greener and healthier environment using alternative fuel and renewable solar energy, the ceasing of public transport does not stop the company to provide financial assistance to employees who are in need of work from home devices. They believe that the current situation allows them to keep productive at home even during the crisis.

“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,” said Star 8 Green Technology Managing Director Ronald V. Laurel.

Insights & information aggregated by iPrice Group.

About iPrice Group:

iPrice Group is a meta-search website operating in seven countries across Southeast Asia namely in; Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. Currently, iPrice compares and catalogues more than 500 million products and receives close to 20 million monthly visits across the region. iPrice currently operates three business lines: price comparison for electronics and health & beauty; product discovery for fashion and home & living; and coupons across all verticals.

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