ElringKlinger may be an international group of companies employing just under 10,000 people at 45 sites all across the world, but it has not lost its personal touch. And, when the going gets tough, the tough stick together. At the peak of the coronavirus crisis, for instance, when travel restrictions imposed by the authorities prevented a great many staff at the Chinese plant in Suzhou from returning after their New Year festivities and production was in jeopardy, an army of colleagues from Administration signed up to operate the machinery after being shown the ropes.
People from nearly 70 countries work within the ElringKlinger Group. They have different backgrounds and different walks of life. However, they are united by the same values that ElringKlinger also embodies: loyalty and responsibility, for example, but also reliability and appreciation. They treat one another with respect, offer mutual support, keep their promises, and take responsibility for their own actions. Just like in a family, in other words. This set of values counts for so much more when times are tough and is especially important for shaping team spirit when challenges can be overcome more easily by working together. And 2020 – the year of the global coronavirus pandemic – is a good example.
The employees in Asia were among the first to be hit by the impact of the pandemic. Even before the lockdown in Wuhan, where the virus is currently believed to have originated, initial measures were taken at ElringKlinger’s sites in Suzhou, Changchun, Qingdao and Chongqing to do as much as possible to prevent it from spreading within the company. This rapid response meant that the Suzhou plant only had to be mothballed for as long as the official restrictions remained in force. Production was able to resume as early as February 10 with protective measures in place. As many employees were still unable to return from their Chinese New Year holidays on time as a result of various travel restrictions in the interior of the country and production was therefore at risk, an army of staff from Administration stepped up to keep production processes going following a brief induction – similar to one family member supporting another. When the staff did come back, they were obviously tested before resuming work. These prompt and, above all, comprehensive measures were the reason that not a single employee in Suzhou has been infected to date.
Since February 2020, volunteers at ElringKlinger’s Changchun plant have been getting on the shuttle bus at the first stop every morning to take the temperatures of staff as they board. Besides the particular dedication being shown by these employees, this also demonstrates successful management work by departmental heads, who have been collecting and analyzing all coronavirus-related information and using it as a basis for recommending measures. But the departmental heads also agree that such a good result would not have been possible without the full support and extraordinary commitment shown by each and every member of staff. Last but not least, the successful efforts to suppress the virus at the Changchun site enabled a staff basketball tournament to be organized. Made possible thanks to a favorable infection situation, this sporting activity was important for employees’ health and team spirit as well as providing a welcome change from the rest of the year.
The Gumi plant in South Korea also introduced measures at a very early stage and enforced them strictly, ensuring that not a single case has been reported among staff there until the beginning of 2021. Comprehensive measures were likewise implemented in India, where coronavirus infections peaked in mid-September, to provide employees with maximum protection. For instance, most administrative staff were given the opportunity to work from home, despite the fact that India’s Internet and electricity infrastructure still has room for improvement, by providing them with hotspots. Like so many, however, our Indian ElringKlinger colleagues are not just taking care of themselves but are also looking out for others who have been hit particularly hard. One example of this came during India’s first lockdown in March 2020: so-called migrant laborers were no longer being given work by local companies, leaving them out of a job. Although ElringKlinger does not employ any of these migrant laborers itself, colleagues recognized the difficult situation they were in and supported them by making up 2,000 food parcels. They also helped a local aid organization hand out food and water to homeless people.
February and March 2020 saw the pandemic sweep its way from Asia to Europe in a wave. The sites all faced the same challenges: how can we protect ourselves while working together to curb the pandemic? Countless measures, such as temperature checks, PPE, social distancing rules and, where possible, working from home were introduced in order to keep the ElringKlinger family together and as healthy as possible. In Kecskemét in Hungary, for instance, all visitors and employees had their temperature taken and were only allowed into the building if it came up as less than 37.8°C. Many staff at the Hungarian plant spent their free time looking after elderly friends and relatives.
» As far as ElringKlinger is concerned, it is not just the company that is important – it is the whole local area the site is in. «
JORDI ARTIGAO UND ANA TRUJILO
together with all staff in Reus, largely managed to prevent an outbreak of the virus at the Spanish site by taking decisive action.
Ana Trujilo is a member of a group that does elderly peo ple’s shopping for them, while Jordi Artigao supports an organization that arran ges food for those in need.
In the Spanish city of Reus, some employees volunteered for welfare organizations or delivered food to the elderly and offered to chat to elderly and lonely people over the phone. After all, as far as ElringKlinger is concerned, it is not just the company that is important – it is the whole local area the site is in, be this Alberton in South Africa, Sevelen in Switzerland, or Dettingen/Erms in Germany. This is because people can only harness the full potential of their strengths in an atmosphere that is full of appreciation and respect. In Italy, where the pandemic had a devastating impact in March that put the whole of the rest of Europe on red alert, the plant was forced to shut at short notice to prevent an outbreak within the company. After setting up a task force that shared information and introduced measures that gave the ElringKlinger family as much protection as possible, the plant was able to resume production in May 2020.
The coronavirus situation in North and South America was also especially challenging.
As in Europe and Asia, the staff at the sites in the United States and Canada had to work together to combat the spread of the virus and its consequences. For instance, all employees and visitors in Burford, USA, were – and still are – required to pass through a full-body thermal scanner that takes their temperature. However, people are not just thinking about what is happening on the plant premises: staff are also supporting their socially vulnerable relatives and neighbors. Some are lending a hand in care homes, while others are looking after elderly relatives or helping to serve food to the homeless and socially vulnerable.
Mexico has also been affected by the global pandemic. ElringKlinger’s Toluca site has not managed to prevent infections in the workforce despite taking extensive precautions. In fact, the site was hit so hard that four employees sadly lost their struggle against the virus, a somber moment for their colleagues and a devastating blow for their friends and families. You lose a family member, a colleague, a fellow human being, a friend.
Especially in a situation like this, you stick together: to help ease the families’ pain, colleagues at the plant showed their solidarity by providing them with financial support on their own initiative. This ensured that they would not have any money worries on top of their emotional anguish.
The Mexican plant in Toluca always places great emphasis on social engagement. As in previous years, employees donated more than 200 blankets to care home residents in need to keep them warm through the cold winter. And the youngest are not forgotten either: over 1,000 toys were given out to children at Epiphany. This is how staff show what is important to ElringKlinger: each site is like a family. Loyalty, responsibility, reliability, and mutual appreciation are what counts – in Toluca just as it is at all other ElringKlinger sites around the world.
» Each site is like a family. Loyalty, responsibility, reliability, and mutual appreciation are what counts. «