As the global disruption of COVID-19 (or coronavirus) intensifies, major tech vendors are reaching out in a variety of ways to support and engage with employees, contractors and other stakeholders. This is the first in an ongoing series exploring those responses.
While no doubt all of the superb companies in the Cloud Wars Top 10 are actively engaged in such efforts, I’ll start with a few that have been fairly visible: Salesforce, ServiceNow and Workday.
Here’s a quick synopsis of each company’s early programs. Below, I’ll offer more details on each.
- Salesforce’s efforts include donations to research into COVID-19, a commitment to continue paying the hourly workers employed by its vendors and a wide-ranging initiative to communicate openly and extensively with all employees.
- ServiceNow is making four apps available at no charge through Sept. 30 to both public- and private sector organizations to help them optimize workflows during these challenging days.
- Workday is giving bonus payments equivalent to two weeks’ salary to all of its employees under the VP level.
In a March 17 blog post called 5 Things We’re Doing Now To Help Our Employees Navigate Work, EVP of Platform, Trailhead and Developers Sarah Franklin outlined the massive questions most companies across the world are wrestling with in the wake of this pandemic: “This immediate shift at this scale poses an interesting question — how do we make it seamless for our employees to work from anywhere when everyone is everywhere? Any executive I speak to, no matter what corner of the executive office they’re in, from CEO to CIO, CMO to CTO, CRO to CPO, is asking themselves the question — what do I do right now?”
Franklin then lists those 5 steps that Salesforce is taking with compelling explanations for each.
- Create open, transparent communications channels
- Digitize processes to make “work from anywhere” easier
- Use tools that make collaboration seamless
- Make it easy to find information fast
- Taking care of employees whose jobs can’t be remote
In addition, CEO Marc Benioff has been an active and open communicator about the worldwide upheavals. On March 11, he posted a blog entry that included this outline of the company’s plans for making some of its software available at no charge through Sept. 30. He wrote:
Finally, we’re making our technology available to help our customers, partners, and communities. Through Health Cloud, Salesforce will provide free access to technology for emergency response teams, call centers, and care management teams for health systems affected by coronavirus. Tableau has developed a free data resource hub to help organizations see and understand coronavirus data in near real-time. This includes case data compiled by Johns Hopkins University as well as data from WHO and the CDC. To help teams collaborate while employees are away from the office, Quip Starter will be available for free to any Salesforce customer or non-profit organization through September 30, 2020.
Making four new “community apps” available to customers at no charge, ServiceNow said its intention is to help both government agencies and private enterprises “manage complex emergency-response workflows.” More information on those can be found at servicenow.com/crisisresponse.
CEO Bill McDermott, who joined ServiceNow in January just as COVID-19 began to draw worldwide attention, described his company’s efforts as part of “this battle to flatten the COVID-19 curve.” The four new apps will let customers handle emergency outreach, self-reporting and exposure management. Such capabilities “are precisely what organizations need to do right now to help people get through this crisis,” McDermott said in a press release.
Adding that he is “particularly proud” to have created the emergency-response app with customer Washington State Department of Health, McDermott said the app is “available to all government agencies fighting this pandemic. This is all about sharing best practices, which is why we’ll do everything we can to get the Washington State app in use everywhere.”
Here’s what the CIO of that state agency had to say about the collaboration.
As the epicenter for COVID-19 in the U.S., the State of Washington’s agencies, emergency responders and public health professionals had to rapidly assemble an incident management structure to lead outbreak response and mitigate the spread and impact,” said Jennifer McNamara, Chief Information Officer, Washington State Department of Health.
Leveraging ServiceNow’s Now Platform, we were able to digitize processes that allowed us to quickly resource critical Incident Management Team positions. This automated a manual and labor-intensive process that was fraught with errors while also providing real-time visibility into resource allocations.
Widely recognized since its founding 15 years ago as an outstanding company to work for, Workday shared these thoughts in a March 16 blog post about its one-time payment equivalent to two weeks’ pay for most employees, as well as other plans.
At Workday, we have a set of core values that guide us, and our employees—without exception—are number one. We want to support and protect them during this challenging time so they can take good care of themselves, their loved ones, our customers, and communities.
As part of this, we have made the decision to extend our work from home guidance through April 17 for all our global office locations. In addition, we have announced several employee relief initiatives and benefits, including:
- A one-time payment—equivalent to two-weeks pay—for the majority of employees to help accommodate any unforeseen costs and needs at their discretion. With schools and support services moving to virtual experiences or being temporarily suspended, we know our employees need the additional financial support and flexibility. We hope this additional pay will help alleviate some of the pressures. You can read more about it in our financial disclosure.
- We are setting up a relief fund to help employees who may need additional support and have significant hardships that go above and beyond.
- We’re expanding our Care.com benefit from 10 to 15 days to help source and pay for back-up childcare providers.
- We’ve arranged one-year access to Headspace—a research-backed app that offers meditations on everything from stress and anxiety to focus and sleep.
- We expanded our paid sick leave policy for any employee who becomes infected with COVID-19.
We feel that by taking care of our employees, we are in turn helping take care of our customers, who are relying on us during this difficult period. These are unprecedented times and we feel it’s important that we do what we can to protect and support our workforce and community.
Subscribe to the Cloud Wars Newsletter for in-depth analysis of the major cloud vendors from the perspective of business customers. It’s free, it’s exclusive, and it’s great!
Disclosure: at the time of this writing, Workday was among the many clients of Cloud Wars Media LLC and/or Evans Strategic Communications LLC.