It’s pretty much impossible to go anywhere without hearing something about the havoc that COVID-19, or Coronavirus, is wreaking on the world. At the time of writing this article, there have been 121,739 active cases reported and 4,382 deaths that have been officially linked to the illness.
The outcomes of the virus affect more than just individuals, however. Businesses have had to adapt to new conditions in order to deal with both safety protocols and decreased demand for some products/services.
Here’s how some major companies have responded:
McDonald’s has not taken action yet, but hourly employees are demanding paid sick leave as well as a refresh on the safety protocols.
Microsoft seems to have started a wave of compensating for the effect that the virus has on hourly workers; they announced that they will continue to pay 4,500 hourly workers their regular wages regardless of how much time they are actually able to come into work, due to office closures. They’ve encouraged other big companies who have the ability, to do the same in order to decrease the detrimental effect on the economy.
This move by Microsoft seems to have inspired other large companies to follow suit. Facebook said that they will continue to pay contingent workers who can’t work due to diminishing staffing requirements, office closures, being sent home, or sick leave. At the same time, they have pulled their participation for six major events.
Tech companies such as Google, Lyft, and Square have implemented a work from home policy. The temporary (maybe?) move to remote work has been made to limit employees’ potential exposure to the virus.
Darden, the chain which claims popular restaurants such as Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, and Bahama Breeze, began offering sick pay for hourly workers.
Walmart, the biggest private employer in the U.S., decided to offer up to two weeks’ pay to hourly employees who either contract Coronavirus or are quarantined. They are also limiting international corporate travel to strictly “business-critical” trips.
It’s clear from all of the boomer vs. millennial travel memes that the airline industry is pretty wonky as a result of the Coronavirus. Flights are getting canceled, ticket prices are being slashed, and planes with hardly anyone on them are being flown. Airlines have said that they are prepared to handle this situation, though. At an online investors’ conference, airline execs said that deep cuts in the number of flights, overall spending, hiring, and even personal salaries will allow them to remain afloat. But, it’s worth noting that they were saying this to investors, so of course they’d want to paint the prettiest picture possible.
Tons of major events have been either canceled or postponed due to the anticipated health issues with lead participating or sponsoring companies to drop out early and cut their losses. This has a major impact on both the hosting companies as well as the tourism industry in those areas. Among the list of canceled/postponed events: South By Southwest, Coachella, and Tokyo’s Cherry Blossom Festival.
What do most companies have in common?
Overall, the overwhelming responses by companies have been paid sick leave, compensation for contract workers, suspending non-essential travel, and remote work. Some experts theorize that it’s possible one of the lasting impacts may be telecommuting becoming more popular overall.
Some lawmakers are attempting to mitigate the effects on workers. 2 Democratic lawmakers are proposing a revised bill that requires companies of all sizes to provide sick leave and two weeks paid time off during public health emergencies. Though this would be great for workers, it seems that small businesses who don’t have as much cash to blow as large corporations are would feel this hit hard. For now, though, the bill is stalled.
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Hannah Michelle Lambert is the Social Media + Events Coordinator at Worthix, as well as the host of the monthly CX News Recap segment. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan.