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The strength of Xpand: what advantages and benefits have emerged during the crisis

Jul 19, 2023 news UAbusiness

We interviewed the HR manager Oksana Kovenya of our company about the challenges that Xpand and its employees faced during the full-scale invasion. 

  • How did the experience of overcoming the COVID-19 crisis help the company/employees adapt to the full-scale invasion?

Undoubtedly, a full-scale war in your country and a pandemic are incomparable events. However, certain aspects and lessons we learned from the pandemic have helped us adapt to the realities of war.

First and foremost, when the pandemic hit, we swiftly transitioned to a fully remote mode of operation, while also maintaining our physical offices. Like many other companies, we underwent significant technological transformations and restructured our business processes accordingly. As a result, when the full-scale invasion began, we could continue working almost without interruption. Our top priority was the safety of our people, and we did everything we could to assist in relocation to safe or relatively safe areas without disrupting our workflow.

The COVID-19 crisis forced all companies to reassess their crisis management methods and procedures. Several months before the full-scale invasion, we established a crisis response team, preparing in advance and considering various future scenarios to make informed decisions. We updated our Business Continuity Plan and revised our processes and protocols to handle unforeseen and challenging situations. We maintained clear communication with employees about the company's actions for different scenarios, providing them with informational support and security measures. Our IT team ensured uninterrupted operations by adapting all IT processes to enhance information security and business continuity.

While nothing can fully prepare you for all the challenges of war, these preparations and adaptations served as our navigational anchor when the time came.

Furthermore, we all learned to be more flexible and adaptive. The change management skills we honed during the pandemic helped us accept and adjust to the rapid and daunting changes that war brought. This flexibility applies to the company's strategies and plans and our team members' ability to adapt to changing tasks and projects while maintaining the highest quality of work.

All of this was possible due to the strengthening of our corporate culture, promoting open communication, effective teamwork, and support for every member of our Xpand family.

  • What are the main priorities and responsibilities of the HR department today?

First and foremost, it's the safety of our employees. This includes the HR team's involvement in developing and implementing emergency response plans, coordinating and formulating action plans with management during crises, and ensuring swift, timely communication with employees regarding the situation, and any necessary preventive measures.

Secondly, crisis communication plays a crucial role. It involves participating in the coordination of evacuations and relocations, ensuring that employees are properly informed about all related matters.

Thirdly, supporting and assisting our employees. Sometimes, it's significant to have conversations with individuals, listen, remove emotional barriers, offer support, guide them to relevant specialists if needed, provide counseling, and inspire. For this, we have one-on-one meetings in our company.

Fourthly, productivity and efficiency. We are all working under abnormal and extremely challenging conditions. However, we are all working to build our business, fulfill our commitments to clients, support our families, boost the Ukrainian economy, and bring victory to Ukraine. Thus, ensuring high levels of productivity and efficiency is a priority.

Fifthly, ensuring compliance with laws, regulations, and labor standards during the war, and providing social guarantees to employees.

Last, but not least, providing professional support for the emotional well-being of our employees. This is why we launched the Mental Health Program. We care about the physical and mental health of our people. The Mental Health Program provides psychological support services to employees, offering consultations with psychologists and coaches seven days a week. We believe this aspect of our care is currently one of the most crucial, as it helps Xpandians cope with the horrors of war.

  • What trends in employee performance has the company observed during a full-scale invasion spanning over a year and a half? Have there been any increases or decreases?

On February 24, 2022, we, of course, suspended our operations. On the same day, we informed our partners about this decision and ensured that our support team remained in contact with clients for critical matters. Our initial concern was to prioritize the safety of our people.

However, after the first and most critical wave of employee relocation, we resumed our work. During that time, the efficiency was not as high as during peacetime, but this decline was relatively brief.

When considering the employees' effectiveness over the year, we can proudly state that we maintained the same productivity as before the war. Those who took leaves or time off due to the war were flexible in managing their work hours and delivered high-quality performance on all their project commitments.

Several factors influenced this outcome: Firstly, work served as one of the essential pillars of support and stability amid the chaos of military actions, providing a respite from dreadful news.

Secondly, every Ukrainian, and accordingly, every member of the Xpand team, understood that supporting the home front was crucial for bolstering the frontlines and preserving Ukraine's economy, which, in turn, meant fighting for its independence.

Thirdly, our culture promotes expertise in each person's domain, individual responsibility for work and efficiency, as well as mutual support and assistance among colleagues. We have a reliable circle of friends and support, which is currently vital for every Ukrainian.

  • What do you think are the current strengths of Ukrainians and Xpand’s employees?

We are a nation that has gone through terrible events in its history and has always fought for its independence. No matter how much they tried to destroy us over the centuries, we are still independent, and free, and will continue to be so.

Therefore, in my opinion, the strength of Ukrainians lies in their resilience. When I see every Ukrainian, every Xpandian, after heavy night shelling, after news of terrible tragedies, after blackouts and experiencing incredible stress, getting up in the morning and continuing to do their work, and doing it with dignity, I believe that we are invincible.

The strength is in unity. Each of us will fight for our family, our land, our brothers and sisters, our colleagues, and our freedom until the very end. Everyone fights on their front, whether on the frontline, clearing rubble, providing medical aid, or continuously donating, it's all about unity. Similarly, every Xpandian knows that we are one team and will always support and help each other.

Therefore, we believe in our Victory. Our nation is so strong, unyielding, determined, and freedom-loving that we simply have no other path.

You have read the first part of the interview, don't miss the continuation soon.