Time for earth and its inhabitants to heal?

March 30, 2020 by

The earth is healing

In the midst of the horrible nightmare that is the COVID19 disease, which has so many sick and so many dying all over our world, we do need to raise our heads and wonder is there some greater purpose to all of this?

My initial thoughts were that our precious earth has needed time to heal itself for such a long time, and “we” were never going to allow this to happen due to our greed and the crazy pattern of living that we have all adopted as the norm. Has nature found a cruel way of saying STOP, while us humans have to just take our place in the queue before we start to abuse it all over again?

In the last week or so my thoughts have moved on as I observe how we are changing – I’m believing that humanity is also healing itself as we have to stop being selfish and self serving. We have been forced to jump off our respective treadmills and focus on survival and on the things that are really important.

I am seeing kindness, friendship, togetherness, sacrifice, humour, generosity and lots of love.

Do things work this way or is this all a big coincidence?

While I was living with these thoughts a friend of mine shared a post that supposedly came from Bill Gates, which pretty much captured what I was thinking in a way that I could never have:

Message in the letter:

I’m a strong believer that there is a spiritual purpose behind
everything that happens, whether that is what we perceive as being
good or being bad.

As I meditate upon this, I want to share with you what I feel the
Corona/ Covid-19 virus is really doing to us:

1) It is reminding us that we are all equal, regardless of our
culture, religion, occupation, financial situation or how famous we
are. This disease treats us all equally, perhaps we should too. If you
don’t believe me, just ask Tom Hanks.

2) It is reminding us that we are all connected and something that
affects one person has an effect on another. It is reminding us that
the false borders that we have put up have little value as this virus
does not need a passport. It is reminding us, by oppressing us for a
short time, of those in this world whose whole life is spent in
oppression.

3) It is reminding us of how precious our health is and how we have
moved to neglect it through eating nutrient poor manufactured food and
drinking water that is contaminated with chemicals upon chemicals. If
we don’t look after our health, we will, of course, get sick.

4) It is reminding us of the shortness of life and of what is most
important for us to do, which is to help each other, especially those
who are old or sick. Our purpose is not to buy toilet roll.

5) It is reminding us of how materialistic our society has become and
how, when in times of difficulty, we remember that it’s the essentials
that we need (food, water, medicine) as opposed to the luxuries that we sometimes unnecessarily give value to.

6) It is reminding us of how important our family and home life is and
how much we have neglected this. It is forcing us back into our houses
so we can rebuild them into our home and  to strengthen our family unit.

7) It is reminding us that our true work is not our job, that is what
we do, not what we were created to do. Our true work is to look after each other, to protect each other and to be of benefit to one another.

8) It is reminding us to keep our egos in check. It is reminding us
that no matter how great we think we are or how great others think we
are, a virus can bring our world to a standstill.

9) It is reminding us that the power of freewill is in our hands. We
can choose to cooperate and help each other, to share, to give, to
help and to support each other or we can choose to be selfish, to
hoard, to look after only our self. Indeed, it is difficulties that bring out our true colors.

10) It is reminding us that we can be patient, or we can panic. We can
either understand that this type of situation has happened many times
before in history and will pass, or we can panic and see it as the end
of the world and, consequently, cause ourselves more harm than good.

11) It is reminding us that this can either be an end or a new
beginning. This can be a time of reflection and understanding, where
we learn from our mistakes, or it can be the start of a cycle which
will continue until we finally learn the lesson we are meant to.

12) It is reminding us that this Earth is sick. It is reminding us
that we need to look at the rate of deforestation just as urgently as
we look at the speed at which toilet rolls are disappearing off of
shelves. We are sick because our home is sick.

13) It is reminding us that after every difficulty, there is always
ease. Life is cyclical, and this is just a phase in this great cycle.
We do not need to panic; this too shall pass.

14) Whereas many see the Corona/ Covid-19 virus as a great disaster, I
prefer to see it as a *great corrector*

It is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have
forgotten and it is up to us if we will learn them or not.

Note: It turns out that this “letter” is fake and didn’t come from Bill Gates at all but because his name was on it, it did the rounds with many high profile people sharing it.

I don’t really care who wrote this piece, I applaud them.

After this time, however long it lasts, the scientists will be able to come to us with definite proof about the damage that we are causing this earth by our actions (and inaction) and how it can be healed and what we need to do once this period is over to achieve this.

In the meantime, let’s pray for everyone who is suffering greatly at this time and for everyone else to do the right things to ensure that the hardship is minimised and that we can recover as soon as possible.

Thank you “pretend” Bill for making sense of this…

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Not all heroes wear capes, some wear a press badge.

March 27, 2020 by

Media

I am very proud of Ireland and how we are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Doctors, pharmacists and nursing staff are heroes and showing up to fight this crisis day in, day out, Ireland Vs Covid. As our Taoiseach said, “not all heroes wear capes”. Corny, but also very true.

The less championed hero is the media.

The Irish media are doing a stellar job. Behaviour change is essential in Ireland’s response to this pandemic and the press are key to this. They are the ones that set the tone and keep the message relevant and fresh in the public’s mind. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, keep your distance.

The media are also front line workers and putting their health and in some cases, lives, at risk in order to save lives.

On top of all of this, they have been forced to learn new ways to do their job.

From Newstalk’s Ciara Kelly reporting from her hot press, Claire Byrne hosting her show from her garden shed while at home suffering from Covid 19, to Ryan Tubridy presenting the Late Late Show to an empty audience.

This is all a stark reminder of the new reality of our lives. News media has been forced to work remotely and adapt and innovate in ways they never have. Print newspaper teams are working from home and are still managing to deliver breaking news and put together a daily paper from multiple locations.

Who said print news is dead and can’t adapt?

These are unprecedented times, and we all need to become accustomed to a new way of living.

It has been said several times that this is the calm before the storm. It is possible that we may all forget the new behaviours that have become our new normal as we settle into new patterns and routines. We may stop singing happy birthday every time we wash our hands. We may forget that touching our face is not allowed, or get sick of staying inside in a few weeks.

But it is the media who will ensure this does not happen by reinforcing the message and continuing to remind us that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We must all play our part.

The next time you are washing your hands for 20 seconds, think of the heroes reporting from around the country who are making sure you don’t become complacent and are who are literally saving lives by helping a nation to change its behaviour. The media play a key role in our society, and this crisis demonstrates that.

Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear a press badge.

#JournalismMatters

Ciara Jordan - Fuzion CommunicationsCiara

Ciara Jordan is an Account Director with Fuzion Communications and she leads the media training team, from our offices in Dublin and Cork.

Top tips for Remote working – for leaders and their teams 

March 26, 2020 by

Working from home

If you are fortunate enough to be able to work from home during this time, we wanted to share with you a few top tips to be as productive as you can be and also bust a few myths about working from home too. 

In a lot of companies the idea of remote working can seem daunting and a lot of people are very skeptical of it. “How do you know people aren’t slacking off?” is a common question people ask when the topic of working from home comes up. But effective remote working starts at the top with the leaders. 

There is a perception that if you can’t see your team working, then they are slacking off but any worker regardless of where they are working from can slack off if there isn’t proper communication in place. If someone understands clearly what work they are responsible for and works accordingly, they should be able to get the job done no matter where they are located. 

So the first tip is of course Communication! 

Communication is key. 

Offline working – A lot of remote workers might feel they need to constantly be online and show they are working at all times but if you need to delve in to a big task – communicate this and let your team know you might be offline working on a project for a few hours, add it to your calendar or your chat status. 

Speak in person – Hold a catch up call with your team and keep in touch, it’s not as easy to have a quick chat with your co-worker when you’re working from home but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Check in with your teammates and see how they’re getting on – just make sure to brush your hair before the video call! 

Chat tools – Use chat tools like Google Hangouts, and Zoom. These tools can really make working from home and communicating with your team a lot easier. 

Track your workday as you normally would – set tasks and take breaks.

Task planning – It’s really easy to get distracted when working from home, so assign yourself a few big tasks you need to get done that day and try your best to get the worst one out of the way first.

Take your breaks – Working alone at home can be hard so take a coffee break/lunch break as you normally would – walk away from your work station/go to a different room and take a break, pet your dog, talk to you mom, call a friend, go for a walk or maybe even do a quick stretch but be sure to assign yourself a time to come back to your desk at, as it’s very easy at home to take too many breaks and get distracted so keeping yourself accountable will do wonders for your productivity. 

Remote working

Get dressed and set up a workstation away from your bedroom if you can. 

Sitting in your PJ’s all day will not help your productivity…as tempting as it is! 

Fuzion Cuppa

Create a remote team culture

Your company culture doesn’t have to take a hit during this time. Implement a fun way to stay in touch with your co-workers. For instance here at Fuzion we have our Fuzion Cuppa everyday at 11am where we make a cup of tea/coffee and catch up with our colleague and see how everyone is. This is a fun way to let everyone know it’s business as usual and we’re all still staying connected with each other. 

Exercise 

If your day looks something like bed to chair to couch to bed then make sure you get outside and get some fresh air and some steps in. It’s not only important for you to get some exercise, but it’s also important for your mental health to get out of the house at least once a day. 

Have a dance party at home(sure nobody is watching anyway!!)

Know when to log off 

This can be one of the most challenging aspects for remote work, as the world is becoming increasingly connected but it is important to develop a habit of setting a time when you officially “log off” for the night. 

And last but not least: 

Embrace the perks of working from home. 

This is a tough time for us all, but if you are able to work from home enjoy the positive side of it. No morning commute, endless cuddles with your pets, nice views, midday dance parties, the memes, the tiktok’s, more time spent with our loved ones – the list is endless!

Michelle

Michelle Harrison is part of PR team at Fuzion Communications, working from our Dublin office

Managing Remote Working Effectively

March 26, 2020 by

remote-work-tips

 

Some very practical advice on working from home from our good friends Laura & Frank – HR for Better Workplaces

 

With working from home being a key means for many workers and organisations to keep going during the Corona Virus outbreak, we have collated some top tips to help you and your team get the most from remote working whilst looking after employee well-being.

 

Managing Communication

  • Be very clear on agreeing ways of working
  • Ensure everyone is well informed and aware of company expectations
  • Have very regular meetings to check progress and communicate effectively
  • Embrace the use of technology to communicate on a daily basis.
  • Operating this way helps to maintain and improve communication whilst also creating social interaction to help combat isolation  
  • Having phone, video or group conferencing is an effective and easy method  
  • Test some products like Zoom, Skype, Loom, Webex and there are many more

 

Managing Well-being

  • Try working in different areas of your house until you find the most comfortable setting
  • Adapt your working space from time to time to allow change in your usual routine
  • Make sure you set a daily routine and take regular breaks
  • Set working hours and stick to them
  • Get showered and dressed every day
  • Take regular daily exercise, joining an exercise group online can be motivating and provide interaction with other people
  • Create a healthy eating plan and be organised around preparation of this
  • Go outside in the garden for a break and plenty of fresh air
  • Join remote working communities online for support and social interaction

 

HR for Better Workplaces provides a bespoke consultation service, with over 50 years combined industry experience. They specialise in practical advice and offer a wide range of HR and well-being services.  Laura or Frank can be contacted through their website https://www.hrforbetterworkplaces.ie/

 

Social Media and Punk Sanitiser in the time of Coronavirus

March 24, 2020 by

Punk Santiser

For years, we have been encouraging small businesses to build a social media presence through our training sessions, client meetings and even networking events.

This is now that time where having that online presence can be really useful for your business. We’re being encouraged to socially distance, which all of our team are doing by working from home, but if you’re a retail or hospitality business who relies on face to face customer interactions these coming weeks are going to be hard to manage.

Here are a couple of simple tips that might help you:

Don’t Hide!

Up until now you might be afraid of saying the wrong thing, so you’ve been keeping your head down – now is the perfect time to make the most of your social media presence. Your audience want to hear from you so they can understand what’s happening with your business at this time.

Engage

Engage with your customer base by communicating your messages but also listening to their queries and empathising where possible. Let your customers know what your business and your team are going through and even share the positive things that you are witnessing in your community – we need hope! 

What you can say?

Spend a bit of time to figure out what the messages are that you want to share online, whether it’s that you can offer an online service, deliveries or a call & collect service.  Your audience at this time are looking for authenticity so don’t be afraid to share a message that might be personal, it will help humanise you and your business.

Tip: We always advise before jumping in that it is best to do an exercise with your team to decide what the key messages of the business are – your content should deliver on these key messages, which is a great way of keeping you on track.

Empathise

Before posting always try to put yourself in the mindset of the reader – people are in unusual circumstances, many of them are worried and try to take this into account when you post.

Is there a way you can help?

Your business may not feel like it’s relevant at the moment but is there anything else you can offer your followers or your community?

A fantastic example of this is many of the distilleries across Ireland and the UK who are now making much needed hand sanitiser to provide to the HSE and the NHS.

Is there any way we can help?

If you need a hand to get up and running let us know and we can get you trained up with a training session online.

For more social media advice keep an eye on our channels over the coming weeks, as I’m sure to have much more to say now that I’m trapped indoors!

Be safe..

Alma Brosnan Social Media Consultant, Fuzion CommunicationsAlma

Alma Brosnan is a social media consultant with Fuzion Communications who operate from offices in Dublin and Cork and sometimes from home!

Just call me Sarah!

March 23, 2020 by

Sarah Connor

I love a good apocalyptic film – correction – I even like the bad ones!!

I hate the gory bits, where instead of the Covid-19 virus, it’s flesh eating zombies coming to harm us, or a Robot from the next Century, but what I do love is seeing how ordinary people, like you and I, cope with whatever is thrown at them.

Worldwide pandemic, mass unemployment, billions self isolating, panic buying, some healthcare services in doomsday scenarios.

We are all in that “movie” now – so how are we coping?

Can we be the superhero, the Rick Grimes (Walking Dead) or the Sarah Connor (Terminator) for our business? 

Here is how I am becoming my own Superhero:-

  • Checking in with my really great team to keep them together and motivated while working remotely. It’s lonely working on your own so we have found some fun ways to stay connected. Check out our Twitter feed @FuzionComms to see for yourself,
  • Make decisions not based on emotions but on what’s good in the long run for the business, the team and the clients
  • Take solid (fighting) advice from people I trust, both colleagues and other business leaders
  • Constantly check in with my clients – I want to be there to fight in their corner – so we walk towards the dawn together when the nightmare/film is over
  • Look for Opportunities for Fuzion and for our clients – it’s a great time for taking a fresh look at business, how we do business and how we tell our story
  • Check in on my friends and family – let them know I love them and I’m there for them – even if I can’t hug them in person
  • Stay healthy, happy and safe – so I can be strong and fit for whatever curve-ball the “script” throws at me

If you are a business owner, feeling on your own with things, you need to put on your gloves and come out fighting and be your own Superhero. 

If you need help, call me, I’ll be in your corner 🙂

Deirdre 

Deirdre Waldron - Network Ireland PresidentDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

An Innocent Rebrand?

March 18, 2020 by

Innocent’s social media team is back at it again, with their genius PR stunts.

After their ‘Pancake Tuesday‘ craze encouraging the public to use their lemon and lime sparkling drink rather than lemon on their pancakes, Innocent have hit us with a branding stunt. In terms of social media engagement and key messaging innocent hits the nail on the head with this stunt.

Innocent rebranding

Posting on their social media platforms, the juice brand announced new shiny labels for their smoothies, claiming the drinks are now boosted with even more vitamins than before. What looked like packaging created from WordArt, followers were left rather confused about their new, unoriginal designs.

As the online community often does, individuals quickly became critical of the new packaging, pointing out obvious errors.

Between the misuse of upper and lower case letters and simple spelling mistakes, not to mention the use of the comic sans font, the new labels were a complete disaster.

However, Innocent used the increased engagement to their advantage. Responding to one commenter ‘We wanted a fun font with a lot of energy. It might not be for everyone, but we think it really packs a punch, like the extra vitamins in our drinks.’ They were promoting their key messaging in their replies.

As more opinions flowed in, Innocent continued to announce more rebrands and new labels, exaggerating the comments they had received. When one individual said there weren’t enough pictures on the labels, Innocent came back with packaging with only pictures. Several joked that there wasn’t enough comic sans so Innocent went full throttle with the font and so on.

Innocent rebranding

Innocent re-branded a total of 12 times within 24 hours, with each rebrand as ridiculous as the next. 

While Innocent’s designs continued to receive a bashing, followers were delighted their opinions were being considered. The social media team continued to respond to their audience and made fun of the rebrand in the process mentioning over and over that their smoothies contained more vitamins, again reiterating their key messaging.

The stunt was completely genius! 

Some LinkedIn followers also copped on to their clever strategy “Looking at their Twitter, the Innocent team are responding to the hate with even more terrible designs, generating even more engagement. They know people love a moan and are quick to share their dislike so well played, as always innocent drinks! Great way to showcase the brand and flavours and get people talking!

Both rebranding and PR stunts can be risky business and are often open to backlash however, Innocent executed this stunt perfectly using the wit and satire, they are typically known for as well as running a clever experiment that showed them how people felt about their brand!

Niamh 

Niamh Lawlor is an Account Executive with Fuzion Communications, a full service PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork.

Taking away the fear and the power of great communications the KLM way

March 13, 2020 by

KLM Airlines - Coronavirus

I just received a very clever piece of personalised email correspondence from the President and CEO of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Pieter Elbers, which was designed to reassure anyone contemplating a flight with them that they are to be trusted during these worrying Coronavirus times.

It was really clever for a number of reasons..

It was Personalised

The email used my name…us customers love that!!

Really understanding the Customers Frame of Mind

The email understood my frame of mind perfectly and took me through a thought process step by step addressing my concerns and “What Ifs”.

The story in my head is that getting on a plane in a confined space with other people at the moment is one of very worst possible things that you could do. How can planes be cleaned between flights efficiently, what about all the places that a person will touch on the plane and what about the air circulation?

As a frequent traveler with KLM, you trust us to not only take you where you need to go, but to do so safely, comfortably and responsibly. Today, as the world comes to terms with an unprecedented health scare in COVID-19 (Corona virus), these values are more important to us than ever

His email addressed my fear and it reassured me step by step what they are doing at KLM to make sure that it is a safe environment.

He spoke about Safety and Hygiene procedures in very specific detail

  • Thorough cleaning and disinfecting before each departure itemising
    • Cleaning of galleys, carpets and toilets
    • Cleaning of tray tables, armrests, headrests and seatbelt buckles
  • Continuous cleaning by cabin crew in the air
  • Cabin air is continually refreshed with outside air
  • Using hospital-grade HEPA filters that are 99.99% effective in preventing airborne bacterial and viral organisms such as COVID-19
  • All flights have special Corona-kits and the team are trained in containment measures
  • Hygiene extends to catering, ingredients are fresh and locally sourced, strict guidelines to preparation

There was a link in the email to a video, which provided more information about hygiene at the airline.

While I was reading this impressive list of hygiene steps I was thinking of course that KLM would say this because they are protecting their interests and spinning the risks in their favour.

This was addressed:

“I fully understand the hesitation many people feel at the moment when deciding whether to book a flight or not. But you can feel secure in the knowledge that KLM has taken every precaution necessary to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.

In this emotional time, you can be assured that we are guided and consistently act by fact-based, circumstance-driven decision making. On a daily basis, we work closely with the top experts at the World Health Organization and Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) in the Netherlands”

Beyond the Airline

And what about the other things that can go wrong about a journey that might have you unable to take the flight?

I also understand that your concern may not be about your journey with KLM, but about the many unknowns about the situation on the ground at your destination. That’s why you can book your KLM flight with the confidence of being able to change your booking without a change fee

It’s not exactly a refund but ..

Practical Information

The email provided practical information and demonstrated the professionalism of the airline

“We are in constant touch with all the relevant authorities to adjust our network as required. This means that we can immediately respond when new travel restrictions are announced. For the latest information on flight status, please visit our travel advisory page or use the KLM app and let us keep you posted 24/7 with push messages

Proud History and Customer Service Ethos

The email went on to highlight the history of the airline, the number of employees and the customer care ethos

“In 100 years of operations, KLM has faced many challenges and always emerged stronger. We were able to do so because we put you, our customer, at the heart of our operation. With that commitment in mind, I am confident that we will overcome this challenging time as well. As you know 33.000 KLM staff will go further to recognize your concerns and take care of you.”

We always preach to our clients that in their communications that they should weave in their ‘Key Messages’ – this was done here in a very clever, natural way.

Trust, Care, History, Customer Focus, Scale …. many boxes ticked!

Tone and Language 

All of the language used was appropriate, non-corporate and very down to earth and the tone was caring and inclusive, which was sealed in the email sign off

“Thank you for choosing KLM, and safe travels”

A Great Excuse to Communicate with Potential Customers!!

The most clever aspect of all with this email correspondence is that the Coronavirus, despite the horrible scenario, gave KLM a reason to reach out to all of their customers and remind them about their brand and prompt them to possibly think about them when booking flights in the future when things are hopefully back to normal.

It was a really long time since I flew KLM (I’m not sure what the GDPR police would be saying about this!!) but they have made me think about them in a really positive light which brings me to my very last point.

This is Positive PR

KLM have taken the opportunity (in awful circumstances) in a really nice, caring and soft way to reach out and tell a lot of people just how great they are!!

I’ve just told you about them..

So, a huge well done to KLM and their team for a really clever and well timed piece of correspondence that reminds us all about the power of great communications!

Can you do something similar with your customers today?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Managing Covid-19 from a HR Perspective

March 12, 2020 by
Laura powney

Laura Powney, HR & Employment Law Consultant, HR for Better Workplaces

 

We just received an ezine on advice for businesses on how to manage Covid-19 from a HR Perspective from our great friends in HR for Better Workplaces and wanted to share it with you .   It’s written by two well respected HR Professionals, Frank Scott Lennon who has over 40 years experience in HR and is a well renowned author on the subject of HR, and his colleague Laura Powney, who has vast experience as a HR and Employment Law Consultant across a wide range of sectors.

Practical Preventative Advice

  • Produce & display signage encouraging all to wash hands in the correct manner
  • Produce & display signage for the signs and symptoms of corona virus and practical advice on how to limit spreading and contracting it
  • Please ensure any signage you begin to use is from a reputable source, i.e. HSE or WHO
  • Provide sanitizer all around the workplace
  • Nominate a coronavirus (Covid19) Go-to-Person as the link person for your organisation
  • Identify any employees who might be ‘high-risk’ and therefore vulnerable, and put specific plans in place for protecting them

 

Business Continuity Plans

  • Ensure that you have an assigned a Steering Group to develop or oversee a plan for the business in all possible scenarios.
  • Now is the time to begin stress testing plans instead of perhaps waiting until forced to put plans into action and then not being able to fix the issues that arise.
  • A good example of this is perhaps stress testing working from home on a rotational basis by staggering groups of employees now, this to assess the effectiveness and to control the amount of people who remain in contact within the business.  It is also a good rule of thumb to assign these groups so they have a good mix of skills and relevant decision makers in each group.

 

Coronavirus and Illness Benefit Temporary Changes

COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is a new illness that can affect your heart lungs and airways.

The Government has announced that the rules for Illness Benefit and Supplementary Welfare Allowance will be changed to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus. The changes mean that if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19 and are medically required to self-isolate, you can get income support. 

Legislation is required to implement these changes and emergency legislation is being prepared.

The main changes are:

  • You will not have to wait 6 days before you can apply for Illness Benefit. This means Illness Benefit can cover the first week of a COVID-19 diagnosis (or medically-required self-isolation) and any subsequent weeks.
  • The personal rate of Illness Benefit will increase from €203 to €305 per week for up to 2 weeks if you are medically required to self-isolate, or for the duration of your medically-certified absence from work with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • The normal social insurance requirements for Illness Benefit will be waived, if you are medically required to self-isolate or diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You can get Supplementary Welfare Allowance without having to pass a means test, if you don’t qualify for Illness Benefit and you are medically required to self-isolate or are diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Government has also stated that self-employed people will be able to get either Illness Benefit or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

If you have coronavirus symptoms or you have been medically required to self-isolate, you should not visit an Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office. You can get information about applying for social welfare payments through My Welfare and you can call 1890 800 024 or (01) 248 1398.

If you are already getting a social welfare payment or you are on an employment programme such as Community Employment (CE) and Tús or a funded training and education programme, you do not need to apply for Illness Benefit. Your existing payment will continue to be paid if you are affected by COVID-19. 

You can find information for employees and employers and income supports on gov.ie.

 

Payments relating to coronavirus (Covid-19)

Employee self-isolating by their own choice and not government guidelines or medical requirement:

No payment is required by law as this is the employee’s own choice

Employee self-isolating by government guidelines or medical requirement:

Illness benefit would be payable to the employee from day 1

Government have now urged all employers to support national public health objectives by continuing, as a minimum, to pay employees who cannot attend work due to Covid-19 illness or self-isolation the difference between the special Illness Benefit rate and their normal wages. This may be achieved through the employer considering a range of flexible working arrangements with their employees such as:

  • compassionate leave
  • allowing the employee to work remotely
  • allowing the staff member to ‘work-up’ any time taken at a future date 
  • allowing the employee to avail of annual leave entitlements
  • rearranging parental leave

A number of income supports are available from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for people whose employers do not continue to pay them during a COVID-19 (coronavirus) related absence or temporary lay-off from work.

Employee self-isolating because employer requests when government guidelines or medical requirements do not exist

Full payment to the employee would be required by the employer

 

Other methods of Leave

If you are considering the option of lay-off or short-term working please observe all points below and consider carefully:

  1. It may not be seen as the most supportive measure
  2. It has to exist as a policy in employees signed contract or handbook
  3. If it exceeds a 4-week period an employee can apply to seek redundancy

This measure is a little less appealing in our opinion and should only be used as a last resort when the organisation has explored all other options.

HR for Better Workplaces provides a bespoke consultation service, with over 50 years combined industry experience. They specialise in practical advice and offer a wide range of HR and well-being services.  Both Laura and Frank have been great friends of Fuzion, supporting and working in partnership on many projects and we couldn’t recommend them highly enough.   Laura or Frank can be contacted through their website https://www.hrforbetterworkplaces.ie/

 

 

Covid-19 Communications and Staying Safe

March 10, 2020 by

The recent news of Covid-19 or coronavirus coming to Ireland is of concern to us all. I am sure you are as glued to the quickly evolving story as we are. 

The HSE is advising the risk of catching Covid-19 in Ireland is still low to moderate, but this may change. However, most people continue to go to work, school and other public places, as usual.

While this advice is still in place, it is best practice to introduce some measures in your workplace such as hand sanitiser at entry points and clear advice about hand washing,  to keep your team and workplace visitors safe and to avoid any possible spread of the virus.  

It is also advisable at this stage to review contingencies around remote working, if this is feasible for all or some members of your team. Another practical approach would be considering remote business meetings, using tools such as Skype, Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams, so that travel is kept to a minimum. 

Our design team in Fuzion have created an infographic based on the HSE advice that you can use in your office to encourage good hand hygiene. You can get a high resolution version of this poster here

Covid-19 infographic

As well as the potential health impact of Covid-19, we are already seeing economic implications of the virus and your business could be affected during this time of uncertainty. 

The Department of Business, Enterprise  Industry have developed a Business Continuity Checklist that is well worth checking out here.

The Role of Communications

If your business is at risk of being affected, you may have a possible communications crisis issue. In this scenario it is best to ensure you follow the below important steps that we have shared with all of our clients. 

When a crisis occurs, the need to communicate is immediate. Simple steps to ensure this happens can streamline this process:

1- Agreed Spokespeople

When a crisis occurs, it is best to choose spokespeople most suitable for the situation. Identify your key spokesperson and brief them on what’s happening as well as how your organisation is going to move forward. Then move quickly to respond internally with those messages to your employees. The point here is to quickly alleviate any internal fears or concerns in the workforce. 

2– Set up a group on email or Whatsapp only reserved for the crisis with key spokespeople

Crises tend to happen when you least expect them so Whatsapp is recommended so spokespeople can be contacted out of office hours. This group should only have the spokespeople and appropriate decision makers. 

3- Act as soon as possible

If it is not possible to give a comment immediately, ensure the journalist is asked for a deadline and the organisation will get back to them asap. 

If required, Fuzion can assist you with the response to a crisis, or act as a “gatekeeper” for you with the media.  The earlier Fuzion is contacted, the better in order to effectively respond to a crisis or a journalist query for a statement and minimise any damage a crisis can create. 

4- Agree a response/Statement as soon a crisis occurs

In the case of Covid-19, it is best to have a statement prepared so your business demonstrates it is ready and prepared for such a serious issue. This statement should outline how the business has prepared for the crisis and plans to move forward. 

5- Social Media

If appropriate, share your statement on social media and if a crisis happens on social media, it is advised where possible to take the conversation offline and discuss matters either on direct mail or email. 

6- Create a means for monitoring

Once you’ve determined the channel of distribution for your message, monitoring responses is equally critical. 

Careful planning and preparation should encourage readiness for any possible crisis.

However, situations will arise in organisations that may require expert advice and in this case, you can contact Fuzion’s Crisis Communication team here

 

Advice on Covid-19

Advice on Covid -19 from Public Health bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) is to minimise infection risk thorough hand-washing, isolating ourselves if we are ill, and avoiding touching our faces. More information on personal care can be found here.

While the period ahead is uncertain, if we can calmly prepare for the unexpected we will be in a much better position to face any possible escalation of the crisis. 

Stay safe and with best wishes

Ciara Jordan and Deirdre Waldron on behalf of The Fuzion Team

 


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