Updated: Aug 21, 2020
Interviewed: Karen Lai, President and Peter Sie, VP of Finance of KPM Power Inc.
How did KPM Power Inc. keep business going with the outbreak of COVID-19? Read about how this company took extra measures to put their employees first.
I've heard stories of how companies have approached the new challenges that come with COVID-19 but the stories that stick out are the ones that are backed by solutions that are inspired by genuine care and support for their teams in this crazy time. How do you handle a global pandemic that prevent your workers from coming to work?
As news broke out that the province of Ontario was going into the inevitable quarantine with "stay-at-home" orders due to COVID-19, Karen Lai, President of KPM Power Inc. sent everyone home and told employees to take anything they needed to ensure they did not need to come into the office. As screens, printers and even lab equipment were unplugged and taken home, this was just the beginning of the shift KPM Power Inc. was about to take.
Being a company who specializes in power and battery solutions, the work would eventually require team members back in the lab. They started with allowing 1-2 employees to come in but how would this work moving forward? With no hesitation, KPM put into motion their expansion plan that was originally scheduled for 18 months to 2 years from now and leased next door to ensure social distancing would be able to occur when bringing back employees. By July, walls were taken down, construction began and a brand new extension to their lab was in progress!
Of course with this quarantine, there will be employees who now have to navigate this new normal with their children at home. With no school and day cares, "how could we expect our employees to still perform at their highest when it was understandable that their attention would be torn?" In June, the Ford government slowly allowed child care centres to reopen and allowed babysitting services to resume with very specific safety protocols in place. It's important that parents are supported at this time, so what did they do? Within a week, they decided to hire and create an on-site daycare where a handful of their children created their bubble.
KPM Power Inc. has built a reputation for having a very strong co-op program; hiring students to provide experience and the ability to take on larger roles on important projects (click here to see their coops take the lead). Many of the students did not drive or own a car so KPM started to approve the expenses of Uber rides to come into the office. This would alleviate the need to commute on public transit. But it didn't stop there, as the weeks progressed, they eventually decided that they needed to purchase a car to support their team to ensure they were safe and limit their exposure on public transportation. WHAT?! I asked why they decided to do this and Karen simply said, "I wanted to make sure they were safe".
Week after week in this pandemic, KPM's leadership showed their compassion for their team, understanding that everyone has a different situation, a different challenge that they're all experiencing. When I sat with Karen and Peter (VP of Finance), they spoke as if all these changes were small adjustments and it was the natural move to make. I asked - why? how? Not all companies would make those decisions.
They both said, look at our values. Integrity, Customer Focus, Social Responsibility and Work Life Balance.
"What better way to show our integrity than to support employees how we, as leaders, would want to be supported. Consider every single struggle they may be facing when attempting to support the success of our company, how can we really ensure that we're all safe -- we follow through when we say we're going to support them.
What better way to show social responsibility than making positive changes to our policies, understanding the work we do and the environment we create will impact the lives of our employees AND their families.
And what better way to demonstrate work life balance by promoting growth and development in this crazy time and ensuring everyone is happy, at work and especially at home."
Be sure to follow KPM Power Inc. on LinkedIn and Instagram to stay up to date with all the positive and strategic leadership policies they've implemented, not only in this pandemic but in their continued growth.
They've also launched their newly designed website - check them out here!