L&T Walks Extra Mile to Retain Large Workforce. Even as the country is reeling under the adverse impact of the 2nd wave of the pandemic and facing the threat of a 3rd wave, several of Larsen & Toubro’s project sites and manufacturing facilities have maintained progress as their labour force has chosen to stay back with the company, thanks to the Company’s several initiatives to keep them safe, healthy, engaged, and motivated.
The diversity of businesses and the scale of operations, with its wide array of high and mighty complex engineering, construction, technology, defence projects, requires L&T to engage skilled and unskilled labour on contract for specific projects from time to time. Their numbers vary as per the demand from the projects or seasonal activities such as harvesting season or the current pandemic.
By March 2021, for the small and big projects, the company had about 245,000 contract laborers on its rolls. Unlike the first COVID wave when a large scale exodus of workers was experienced by all construction and infrastructure companies including L&T, this time the company was able to successfully retain around 70% of their contracted workforce at project sites.
The retention of workforce during second wave was made possible by ensuring proactive medical care, provision of hygienic facilities, setting up owned quarantine centres for mild COVID infected, hospital tie-ups, doctor on call, availability of nursing and care, supply of healthy and nutritious food and finally consistent communication campaigns such as #L&TCares #SafewithL&T #YourChoice to keep them informed and motivated.
Facilities to help and cure
A measure of the stringent implementation of COVID protocols, is that even as the number of infections has spiked all over, the infection numbers at L&T sites & facilities have been negligible. The Company has even started distributing oxygen concentrators to some of the sites.
Apart from educating the workmen about the ills of the pandemic and precautions to be taken, the Company has organized for vaccinations of the workmen, either by tying up with local hospitals and health centres or on the strength of their relationship with the local authorities. A high percentage of L&T’s workmen across sites have received their first jab.
Communication to the fore
In tough and testing times, it pays to remain connected, to maintain the flow of communication, both upward and downward to ensure that all are on the same page.
Various modes of communication have been developed and deployed including a robust SMS campaign in various Indian languages that reaches out to nearly 4 lakh workmen appealing them to do the right things along with a set of health advisories.
Social media has come in handy to communicate as the HR and IR teams use WhatsApp, a favourite App amongst the workmen, to spread positive messaging. “Our effort is to spread positivity among the workmen and quell their fears and anxieties,” explains the Project Director of a sensitive Defence project in the southern part of the country. “All our measures to sustain the health, safety and welfare of our workforce, augments our strong, positive internal communication.”
Health advisories and ‘Do’s & Don’ts’ posters in various languages have been designed and put up at sites and labour camps targeting areas where workmen congregate like at the canteens and medical centres. At some project sites, food is being delivered to the workmen in their rooms to avoid crowding in eating areas.
Films and a recorded video messages from the Company’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Divyang Shah, are regularly played across sites and facilities to small groups of 20-25 highlighting the safety precautions to be taken, symptoms of the viral infection, steps to be taken if infected.
Help in deeds, not just words
In the present prevailing situation, it is very easy to feel down and right from the beginning, the effort of site leadership and project teams have been to keep the workmen in good health and cheer. Daily pep talks, counselling sessions and awareness programmes have proven to be effective ways to reach out to them.
An important step the Company took very early in the piece was to reorient the labour accommodation to maintain social distancing. Staggering work timings, starting fresh shifts and introducing more bus trips that carry less workmen have been more steps to ensure that less people work at a place at the same time.
L&T has gone many an extra mile to ensure that their people remain safe and healthy in the face of the pandemic. The efforts are paying dividends as project milestones are being attempted and L&T is continuing to build India’s infrastructure.
Quote by Mr SN Subrahmanyan, CEO & MD, L&T
“There have been some people who have gone back home this time as well. But with huge effort, I can talk about Larsen & Toubro, we brought many of them back. We have intensified huge campaigns at all our sites, especially the labor camps and the workforce, to tell them that they are safe with L&T”.
Quote by Dr C. Jayakumar, Chief Human Resource Officer, L&T
“In almost all our labour habitats, medical facilities are available with a doctor on call 24/7 that they find extremely reassuring. We have converted our Construction Skills Training Institutes, some of our apartments, our training centres into centres as also tied up with hotels for rooms that have beds equipped with ventilators”.