Basil Reekie – Managing Director At Clientèle Life Shares With CSRNEWSSA What Losing Employees To Covid Means

In early July, two employees of the financial services group, Clientèle Limited Group passed away due to COVID-19. “This is an extremely difficult time for all of us, and we know it’s especially difficult for our employees,” says Basil Reekie, the Group Managing Director.

According to Reekie, the first employee had not tested positive for COVID-19 at the time she fell ill. This was only confirmed by the family a week later.

“Once we were aware that she’d tested positive for COVID-19, we immediately offered all employees in her department, the option of going for a COVID-19 test at our expense,” explains Reekie.  

“The second employee, who sadly passed away, went for a COVID-19 test. Her results came back positive and shortly after, she was admitted to hospital.”

Reekie explains that from the onset of COVID-19, Clientèle, has taken the implementation of all regulations very seriously and has gone above and beyond to minimise the spread of infection and to do their utmost to protect their employees and their families.

“In particular, we have adhered to all health and safety requirements regarding COVID-19 across the entire company. This includes requiring staff members to self-quarantine immediately should they test positive for COVID-19, contact tracing of any positive cases, regular deep cleaning and additional SABS approved fogging of the relevant office space, as well as all the necessary COVID-19 safety related protocols,” says Reekie.

Helping employees cope

To help employees cope with the passing away of their colleagues, Clientèle provided them with compassionate leave to help them grieve. “We are aware that these types of situations are tough on employees, especially their mental health and we offer counselling services to all employees. When we were made aware that COVID-19 had spread to South Africa, we worked with The Careways Group, to provide COVID-19 specific counselling to our employees,” says Reekie.

Measures implemented to curb the spread of infection

Clientèle has implemented (amongst others) the following measures required by law, including some additional measures:

  • Establishing a COVID-19 Committee who meets regularly and looks at the challenges of COVID-19 and how this affects staff members;
  • Instituting shift working for their sales force at the office park in order to ensure social distancing;
  • Where possible, allowing, facilitating and encouraging staff to work from home;
  • Providing face masks and hand sanitizer to all employees and additional face shields to those working in call centres;
  • Enforcing social distancing for all staff. In the sales call centres this has meant that staff only sit at every second desk;
  • Implementing additional restrictions in the kitchens, for example, no sharing of utensils, all staff to wash their own cutlery, only two staff members allowed in the kitchen at a time;
  • Perspex screens have been added in any area where staff need to interact with clients;
  • Regular cleaning of all surfaces happens throughout the day;
  • Screening of both employees and visitors who arrive at the office park is carried out every day, and additional screening happens throughout the day by nurses or selected members of management;
  • COVID-19 managers have been appointed for each department with the responsibility of ensuring that all rules and procedures are complied with. The COVID-19 managers are supplied with information that they can share with staff regarding free testing sites, what to do if you or a family member tests positive, and how to self-monitor for symptoms.

Making a difference

Clientèle, who aims to be recognised by all stakeholders as a company that makes a significant contribution to the sustainable development of the communities that they operate in and serve, has recently donated around R4 million to the Solidarity Fund to assist with the fight against COVID-19.

Clientèle has also made a number of changes to benefit and safeguard their clients during this time, including:

  • Removed waiting periods on their Funeral products for COVID-19 claims;
  • Enhanced Clientèle Rewards by including more virtual benefits (including virtual education) in the rewards program;
  • Enhanced the functionality of the Clientèle App to allow more self-service functionality via this digital channel;
  • Included a COVID-19 hotline for Clientèle Rewards members;
  • Offered certain Clientèle Rewards benefits for free to policyholders during this difficult time.

“Our staff and clients are extremely important to us and, as a company, it is important to do everything we can to support them,” says Reekie.

Corporate Social Responsibility News (CSRNEWS) is South Africa’s leading Corporate Social Responsibility news, media and publishing firm. We create content on social responsibility, helping government, corporates, consultants, NPOs and NGOs to reach their target markets through appropriate, targeted development news.

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