Our employees’ health and well-being has always been one of our top priorities. Now more than ever, Santander is working to ensure the well-being of its across the world.
The lockdown measures triggered by the coronavirus outbreak have made it necessary for the organisation to quickly adapt in response to this global challenge. This can be seen in the increased capacity for remote work, with 115,000 employees working from home each day and continuing to support our branch networks and customers. Similarly, protection measures have been put in place for the small number of employees who have continued to work in branches and contact centres, including with masks, gloves, partitions and special customer service hours.
The various geographies have introduced numerous initiatives to ensure our employees’ well-being during this period of crisis and to help them adapt to the new situation. Our Group executive chairman, Ana Botín, has maintained open communication channels with Group employees through periodic meetings via videoconference at which people are encouraged to ask questions. Hence, "Ask Ana" has become a space for addressing questions of interest and sharing current information.
In Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Chile and Mexico, the bank has stated that it is committed to maintaining employment during the crisis.
Initiatives common to most geographies include newsletters with up-to-date information on the health crisis, tips for achieving a work-life balance and various virtual leisure options. One of the most popular options in every country is online learning courses to promote project management, leadership and efficiency in remote work.
Given that many employees may be experiencing difficulties during the crisis, in some countries the bank is offering various financial facilities consisting of flexible loans or advances on salary payments to those in need.
Below we list a series of unique measures in each country where the bank operates:
Not only have our branches changed, but various initiatives have been transformed and adapted to an online format to enable them to continue. Volunteer programmes such as "Speaking without frontiers", created to improve participants’ English through conversations with students with disabilities, or the "Woman to Woman" mentoring programme, for victims of gender violence, have been quickly adapted to the online format.
Another noteworthy initiative is a service to deliver medicine at home to employees so as to make it easier for them to go outside as little as possible.
Santander Mexico has set up a space for questions and answers between its CEO, Héctor Grisi, and employees to discuss matters of general interest.
In addition, through a series of memos, advice has been given on hygiene in the home and at the supermarket, and a number of recipes have been provided to help employees with preparing meals during lockdown.
An initiative in Poland has created a social network called SantanderGO, a space to bring together employees who are alone during the lockdown, so as to allow them to interact and share their experiences and sentiments.
Another initiative is the creation of an internal portal exclusively for managers. The portal has made learning materials on leadership available to managers, in addition to online consultation sessions with human resources experts to discuss matters relating to team management during difficult times.
In Peru they have produced a children’s story entitled “The protective shield against King Virus” for the unit’s employees to explain what is happening to their children more easily.
Argentina has created a guide with different proposals, all aimed at making confinement as enjoyable as possible for employees. The topics discussed range from nutrition to cooking to art to décor.
In addition, employees have access to mindfulness programmes to help them manage stress and increase resilience, along with a counselling and assistance service on subjects related to psychology, parenting, breastfeeding, and non-employment-related legal matters.
Santander Portugal has joined the initiative to create content to promote employee well-being. The unit has created a medical and psychological hotline for its employees to receive telephone assistance when needed.
Santander Chile is collaborating with the "Share" campaign, which supports employee efforts to send food to the families most affected by the health crisis.
In addition, through agreements with various companies, the unit has obtained discounts on essential pharmaceutical and medical products for its employees.
One of this unit’s most important actions was to offer its employees mental health apps with meditation, breathing and mood control exercises. The app also offers access to live chat with psychologists who can provide counselling on mental well-being.
In addition, Santander Mental Wellbeing’s network of professionals has been very active in supporting and promoting activities to help all employees.
This unit has reorganised its commercial branches, allowing many employees to work from home.
Another important initiative has been to give time off during the workday to people whose work-life balance has been complicated by the closing of schools or other centres, as a result of which they need to devote a large part of their time to caring for children or other dependants.
The distribution of masks to branch employees and the provision of a telemedicine service by the Albert Einstein Hospital have played a key role during the crisis in Brazil, the Group’s largest geography.