Why resilience rests on workers’ wellbeing

With the ongoing social distancing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, connectivity is a lifeline to our friends, family and jobs. This couldn’t happen without the frontline workers who cannot work from home lest the entire country grind to a standstill. There are the health workers, of course, but also employees of companies deemed essential services, such as supermarkets, banks and mobile operators. On the occasion of International Worker’s Day 2021, dtac spoke to some of our frontline heroes who work tirelessly to connect Thai society to what matters most. 

Risk Exposure

Prateep Yingyong, a field network officer at dtac, performs network installations and maintenance. His job requires him to be on the ground every day, traveling from one cell site to another across Bangkok and its vicinity.

Fieldwork is inherently dangerous. Working with tools, working at heights and working in remote areas requires strict guidelines to avoid injury. For example, fieldwork employees like Mr. Prateep are required to wear safety shoes at all times while performing site inspections and are not allowed to be on sites after 6 pm except in the event of an emergency. 

During the spread of COVID-19, Mr. Prateep sometimes travels to so-called red zones, where COVID-19 cases are the highest. For these jobs, dtac provides protective equipment such as face masks, gloves, alcohol gel and even PPE suits in some cases. Workers with exposure risks can also access COVID-19 tests for free.

“Of course, I’m anxious when I work in high-risk zones. But with safety measures in place and support provided by dtac, frontline employees like me can feel confident at work,” said Mr. Prateep. “I also appreciate a sense of value associated with my role. Our job helps keep thousands of healthcare professionals connected at work and with their loved ones.”

As a customer service officer at dtac Hall, Chamchuri Square, Waraporn Hengwan, doesn’t risk falling off a ladder or a snake bite. But she encounters countless customers in a day. During the crests of the successive waves of COVID-19, Ms. Waraporn and her colleagues feel particularly anxious. But their morale is lifted by the company’s support. Sales teams are equipped with protective gear, from face masks and visors to partitions. As all dtac employees, they are also covered by a specific COVID-19 insurance.

“My role requires me to be physically present at work, but I have become more confident seeing how dtac put in place various measures and practices to avoid infection. It allows me to perform my job at 100 percent and without worry,” she said.

At present, employees at dtac service halls are also divided into two teams to avoid crowding, rotating between serving customers from a service hall and doing so via online channels including Line and Facebook. This also ensures service continuity for customers: if one team is quarantined, the other can continue to operate the shop.

Building a Resilient Future

Nardrerdee Arj-Harnwongse, Chief People Officer of dtac, emphasized that people are the key to operational resilience. “At dtac, we always see the importance in promoting employee wellbeing and safety, reflected in many of our initiatives and benefits. Our generous leave policies, particularly our six-month maternity leave, are some of our highlight benefits,” explained Ms. Nardrerdee. “We believe employee wellbeing and strong mental and physical health are the foundation of labor rights.”

In 2020, dtac was the first organization of its size to announce flexible work is permanent. Under normal circumstances, the company headquarters aims for 70 percent of employees to work from home, although this figure reached 96 percent during the third wave of COVID-19. And according to the latest employee survey, more than 90 percent of them are happy with flexible work and prefer to freely rotate between home and office settings.

“The nature of labor rights will be changing significantly in the post-COVID era as the value of work shifts towards flexibility. Freedom to work from anywhere is becoming a new norm. This is both a challenge and opportunity for human resource management,” she explained. “Leaders need to be very clear on the ambitions and targets but empower their teams to work on those ambitions flexibly. And then they need to be very precise in measuring outcomes against their targets. At dtac, we call this management style ‘tight-loose-tight’.”

Since the first wave of COVID-19, dtac has been implementing crisis management and business continuity plans. Employees are either working from home continuously or separated into teams A and B, taking turns to come into the office on alternate weeks. In addition to the COVID-19 health insurance, dtac has ensured that employees who choose to get vaccinated in private hospitals will be covered by their health insurance.

Aside from physical measures, dtac also organized training courses with medical professionals, to provide knowledge about the virus and proper use of protective equipment. The company also keeps employees informed and updated on the COVID situation through online channels.

Finally, dtac provides mental health hotlines where employees can consult with therapists and psychiatrists without charge. 

“dtac is committed to good governance and a strict code of conduct, complying with Thai law and universal human rights. We operate with a meaningful purpose, which is to empower millions of customers with mobile connectivity,” said Ms. Nardrerdee. “In doing so, we believe it improves our productivity, performance, and resilience in times of crisis.”

ขณะเดียวกัน การรักษาสุขภาพใจของพนักงานให้แข็งแรงนั้นถือเป็นอีกองค์ประกอบสำคัญ ซึ่งที่ผ่านมา ดีแทคได้จัดให้มีบริการสายด่วนสุขภาพจิต โดยพนักงานสามารถโทรปรึกษากับผู้เชี่ยวชาญและจิตแพทย์โดยไม่มีค่าใช้จ่าย

“ดีแทคเป็นองค์กรที่ยึดถือหลักธรรมาภิบาลเคร่งครัด อันเป็นไปตามกฎหมายไทยและมาตรฐานสากล เราดำเนินธุรกิจอย่างมีความหมาย เพื่อให้การดูแลลูกค้าและพนักงานของเราอย่างดีที่สุด เราเชื่อว่าการปฏิบัติเช่นนี้จะช่วยส่งเสริมการดำเนินงานของบริษัท และท้ายที่สุดแล้วจะทำให้เราสามารถดูแลบุคลากรของเราได้เป็นอย่างดี แม้ในยามวิกฤต” พี่กุ้งทิ้งท้าย