Taking the pandemic by the horns is how Pragma’s employees tend to address the challenges that Covid 19 has caused in the workplace. While stringent lockdown measures have been successful at curbing the spread of the virus, many families are devastated as a result of partial or total income loss.
While the company has stood firm during this time, Pragma has not been unaffected. The impact of losing clients as a result of downscaling or their doors closing made for an uncertain road ahead.
“The silver lining to this very dark cloud that we are still battling to fly through is our people and group culture. While faced with many challenges, our people still want what is best for colleagues. It is with this spirit that two projects were launched to assist employees as far as we can. One initiated by Strini Naidoo on the SED Committee and The ISIKOBEAT Care Fund, by another passionate employee Rudolf van Wyk,” says Stéphan Pieterse, Pragma Chief People Officer.
With schools closing even more pressure was placed on parents who relied on schools for a meal for their children. The realisation prompted Strini Naidoo, one of Pragma’s client service representatives, to petition the SED Committee to get involved with the community.
“My initial idea was to work through an NGO to continue to provide learners with that daily meal. With all the rules and regulations in place, getting involved at this level as I initially intended were very difficult. But the SED team put together a remarkable plan to assist the parents who are employed with Pragma for school fees payment based on qualifying criteria.” says Strini.
Pragma’s SED spend is governed with strict guidelines. But the SED Committee decided to make these guidelines work in favour of fellow Pragmatarians. An invitation went out to the entire group, requesting employees, struggling to fulfil all their financial commitments as a direct result of the pandemic, to apply for aid with their children’s school fees.
“From a SED perspective, we must still adhere to specific guidelines. In line with these, we identified school fees as an element in which we could assist Pragmatarians, but still allows us to get the SED points needed to qualify as SED spend,” explains Stéphan.
Some private individuals also decided to contribute to the cause, which enabled the SED Committee to assist 19 families.
Yet, Rudolf van Wyk, an asset care centre manager at Pragma, felt more could be done.
“It dawned on me that, while there are people in desperate need for financial support, others are looking for ways to assist. I have come to know Pragma as a company who practice what they preach. Starting an internal crowdfunding campaign was an obvious move. The ISIKOBEAT Care Fund was launched in a time where all Pragma employees experienced a salary cut which makes every single pledge truly heart-warming. The ISIKOBEAT Care Fund is the cherry on the cake of what has been an inspiring display of camaraderie and care by the people of Pragma.” says Rudolf. After receiving Rudolf’s request, the SED Committee agreed to assist with the governance of the project, although this is not part of the company’s SED spend. At the same time, Distance For Difference, an NGO managed by Pragma’s Stéphan Pieterse, decided to assist as a funnel through which the funds would be collected and distributed.
“A number of our colleagues in the oil and gas sector are facing an uncertain future with potential job losses. It’s been agreed that the objective of this fund will be to financially support fellow Pragmatarians who might be without any income in the near future. To date, more than R80k has been pledged to the fund. We’re thankful for every employee who is going out of their way to support each other. I’m blessed to work with such a group of committed and caring team members.” concludes Stéphan.
When people stand together and support each other, it is phenomenal how much lighter a burden becomes.
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