At a time when Delhi-NCR is grappling with hazardous air quality, companies in the region are going the extra mile and implementing employee-friendly measures like flexible working hours, work from home and installing air purifiers in office to ensure staff wellness. With deterioration of the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi-NCR, doctors in Delhi have declared a public health emergency. The Delhi government has put out health advisories for high-risk groups, mainly children and the elderly, saying they should avoid outdoor activity. However, those who travel for work are the worst affected of the lot. In order to ensure wellness of their employees, companies operating in the Delhi-NCR region are offering the much-needed assistance to protect its employees against health hazards. Companies have sent out health advisories to all employees with Dos and Don’ts. Some have distributed anti- pollution masks and enlisted services of a doctor for the well-being of their employees, among other initiatives. “We have distributed anti-pollution masks to all our employees while offering flexible working hours and the option to work from home. Our office already has air purifiers installed as part of our overall approach towards the health and well-being of our employees,” said Emmanuel de Roquefeuil, VP and Country Director – India, Thales, a global technology player in aerospace, transport, defence and security.
Power automation player Schneider Electric India CHRO Rachna Mukherjee said: “The flexibility in working hours and work from home options help our employees continue to deliver best results and work efficiently, without risking their health and undergoing unnecessary stress.” Media conglomerate Zee Entertainment Enterprises has provided an anti-pollution mask to each employee and is allowing ‘Work from Home’ for employees who are suffering from severe respiratory problems. The organisation has also implemented the ‘Flexi Working Hours’ policy and has taken on board services of a doctor at its Noida office for 10 working days starting November 9. Global job site Indeed India MD Sashi Kumar said the company has provided its Delhi employees with the opportunity to work from home to ensure they can stay safe during the adverse weather conditions. IT consultancy GlobalLogic India Vice-President, Human Resources, Neeru Mehta, said “we anyhow have office transport, cabs, metro shuttles etc being provided, so we made sure we are time-bound and everyone was well taken care of. Another extra mile we’ve gone is giving our support staff breathing mouth masks”.
The smog situation is also affecting the talent landscape of Delhi and NCR. Many professionals are being hesitant to take up career opportunities in and around Delhi and those who are working in Delhi are looking for career opportunities outside the state and opting for western or southern states of the country. “A number of professionals we have spoken to have mentioned the health issues they or their family members are facing after moving to Delhi and therefore are desperately looking to move out of the city as soon as possible,” global executive recruitment firm Antal International India spokesperson said. The poor air quality has become a major concern for people working in the capital and most of them, especially the ones who had relocated to the capital for better career opportunities, are now looking to return to their hometowns or other tier 1 or tier 2 cities. Moreover, expats who had moved to Delhi are seeing it as a major health risk right now and do not want to take such a huge risk. The ones who are in Delhi are looking to move back to their countries as well, Antal International added.
The environmental concern raised by hazardous air quality in Delhi has become an annual feature now. People indulge in the intense discussion at the turn of every winter, only to forget the smog worries when the air becomes slightly breathable. But desperate and revolutionary measures should be adopted to tackle the menace, said experts. “Eco-friendly modes of transport have to be promoted and the government needs to be innovative in facilitating and incentivising the same, besides creating infrastructure. Dedicated cycling tracks are a must now. Cycling comes with a host of health benefits also. In the Indian context, cycles can solve the problem of parking as well,” said Pankaj Munjal CMD, Hero Cycles.