Companies with employees who have been affected by the war in Ukraine and/or the enormous number of refugees fleeing from the fighting can take several steps to address this crisis. Here are three recommendations:
1. Listen: So many people are experiencing real trauma and life-changing experiences, with circumstances still changing rapidly on the ground, that it is best to start with careful listening before determining next steps. Several questions to ask include:
2. Take a Values-Based Stance: The war in Ukraine has become a test of every organization’s values and their implications not only for employee welfare but also for broader social values such as democracy and personal and economic freedom.
3. Build a Flexible Action Plan
Company Example: Cisco
Cisco is a networking hardware and cybersecurity company. Its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been substantive and multi-dimensional. Members of Cisco’s corporate leadership team traveled to company sites in Krakow and Warsaw as well as to the Polish/Ukrainian border to view the refugee crisis firsthand. Early efforts to move Ukrainian employees to safety have been augmented by company support for their resettlement—largely in Poland with the assistance of local staff members there. Company employees now hosting displaced people have been granted an extra 80 hours of paid leave under Cisco’s Time2Give program, which normally allocates two weeks per year of paid time for those who choose to volunteer and help others in need and times of challenge.
Worldwide, more than 9,000 Cisco employees have donated funds, matched by the company, to nonprofits providing assistance to Ukrainian refugees, and Cisco is also equipping these nonprofits with communications infrastructure in locations where they are setting up new operations. Meanwhile all company operations in Russia and Belarus have been halted, while the Cisco Talos cybersecurity team has been protecting critical governmental and corporate Ukrainian networks from Russian attacks.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to how an organization should handle this crisis, the most immediate thing you can do is to support your employees. Remember, different employees may desire different kinds of assistance—or none at all. The key is to make available the resources that your organization is able and willing to provide, and then make sure employees are able to use them.
Aperian Global is offering free GlobeSmart access to NGOs and other organizations supporting Ukraine, to help them better understand Ukrainian culture. Please contact us if you know an organization that could benefit from a GlobeSmart Grant.
Ekaterina von Gertten is a Senior Consultant and Learning Solutions Architect for Global Mobility at Aperian Global. She partners with clients around the world, with a focus on the EMEA region. Ekaterina has served as a key resource in Aperian Global’s work with Fortune 100 companies in a variety of sectors including energy, pharmaceuticals, technology, automotive, finance, and food and beverage.
Connect with Ekaterina on LinkedIn.