SHANGHAI, China — It was 5:50 pm on Tuesday, August 7, when the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau warned that a super typhoon was on the way to Shanghai – home to Ford’s Asia Pacific and Africa headquarters. The Chinese government had just raised its typhoon warning level to orange– one below the highest – and Ford’s leadership needed to make some quick decisions.
“We were closely monitoring Typhoon Haiku overnight to determine if and how it would impact our operations and more importantly, our people. While we are committed to working hard to deliver the APA better plan to the organization, our top priority is always the safety of our employees,” said Julie Lodge-Jarrett, director, human resources business operations and salaried personnel, Ford APA.
“Almost 700 employees in Ford’s Shanghai office commute from the four corners of the city via bus, boat, subway, bike and car; given the severity of the storm, we were very concerned for their safety and the well-being of their families.”
At 8 pm Ford APA decided to close the office the following day.
“In these instances, it is always best to err on the side of safety,” said Lodge-Jarrett.
To ensure employees were informed about the plan, the company sent emails, text messages, made phone calls and posted notices on social media corporate accounts to reach out to as many as possible. The Human Resource department also set up a small team in the office building to take care of colleagues who missed the announcement and turned up early in the morning.
“I first saw the office closure announcement on Chinese Twitter, Sina Weibo, even before I received the text message from my supervisor, “said Carolyn Yang, a Ford China employee, “It’s very good that our company values employee’ health and safety the most. My friends and family who were not given time off during the typhoon were very jealous of me. I am proud that I work for a company that cares for us.”
“As more and more people spend time on social media websites, it has become a very effective way to communicate with our employees and customers,” said Ian Xu, manager of digital communications, Ford China.
“Five hundred new followers were added to our corporate Weibo account on August 8 and 9. It is not usual to have that number increase so much just within two days. Ford’s quick and caring response obviously touched people’s hearts. The comments generated from the online community were very positive and the brand image has been promoted through word of mouth on Weibo,” Xu added.
“Ford rocks!” said @TallyBaby, “My employer didn’t care a thing about us, I would be happy to work for a company like Ford.”
@zhifengyu said, “I’d like to be part of Ford!”
“We are glad to see a strong endorsement of the decisions we’ve made over the last 72 hours to proactively keep our employees safe! Many in our community have shown their respect for how we’ve handled the situation, and this can only help Ford’s brand in China – both in recruiting talent and selling vehicles,“ said Lodge-Jarrett,
“It’s also very touching to see many of our employees work from home voluntarily despite the bad weather, and return to work today fully dedicated to make up any lost productivity. There is great deal of camaraderie and mutual support among colleagues. China’s ‘Go Further’ spirit this week has been inspiring, and I’m confident that by working together we will continue to create a culture we’re all proud to be a part of,” Lodge-Jarrett added.