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Holcim sustains HELPS campaign amid pandemic, assists over 160,000 in 2020

Holcim Philippines assisted more than 160,000 people in 2020, diverting more resources to community health and sanitation projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Holcim Philippines assisted more than 160,000 people in 2020, diverting more resources to community health and sanitation projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 on its business and the challenges on bringing out support to local communities due to safety, the Company continued its corporate citizenship campaign Holcim HELPS, which benefitted 164,913 individuals in 2020. Community Health and Sanitation projects accounted for 35% of total Holcim HELPS expenditures as the Company focused more on this area to help strengthen host communities against the disease. The company leveraged on its strong partnerships with stakeholders and regularly consulted with communities to deliver the needed support. Infrastructure projects, which previously cornered the biggest allocation of the Holcim HELPS budget, slid to second in 2020 with 26% share followed by Community Donations (21%), and Community Water Projects (11%).

Holcim Vice President for Communications Cara Ramirez: “Our Company remains committed to support in any way that we can the communities that have been home to our people and facilities for decades especially during challenging times such as 2020. With the assistance from our partners and great dedication from our people on the ground, we provided much needed support that responds to our communities’ needs. As we grow our company, we will continue and strive further to support the sustainable development of our communities through the HELPS campaign.”

The centerpiece of this year’s Holcim HELPS campaign is on water access, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for schools and communities in partnership with the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) and the Manila Water Foundation. Through these partnerships, Holcim Philippines communities received 5,300 information and education materials on proper hand washing and COVID-19 prevention, as well as 800 hygiene kits and children’s storybooks on WASH.  The initiative benefited 78,698 individuals in Bacnotan, La Union, Norzagaray, Bulacan), Mabini, Batangas, Lugait, Misamis Oriental, and Bunawan District, Davao City.

Another Holcim HELPS highlight was its donations to fight the COVID-19 pandemic that benefitted 45,901 community members and government and medical frontliners.  The Company distributed more than 15,000 food packs, 10,000 masks, 300 face shields and goggles, and 50 liters of soap and sanitizers to various stakeholders nationwide. 

Since the Holcim HELPS’ campaign launch in 2018, more than 770,000 community partners have benefitted from the social development initiatives of the Company through its cement plants and terminals nationwide.  For the next ten years, the company intends to help and an additional 1.6 million people.

Other Holcim HELPS highlights in 2020 were its partnership with the Manila Water Foundation to build 45 lavatories for an Aeta community at Sitio Monicayo, Mabalacat, Pampanga. This program provided water for waterless communities and sanitation facilities to promote proper hygiene and eliminate open defecation.  

For infrastructure, Holcim’s Bulacan plant supported the road and pavement improvement of host community, Barangay Matictic in Norzagaray so people can more easily access social services. Since 2017, the program has improved three kilometers of roads and pathways benefitting more than 6,000 residents. In 2020, the company’s Davao Plant turned over its second water system project that will provide clean and safe water to communities in the Bunawan District of Davao City. The two facilities now provide close to 500 households sustainable access to water and a future source of livelihood.

Meanwhile, the Company’s terminal sites in Calaca, Batangas is nearing completion of an artificial coral reef project developed in consultation with the local government and fisherfolk community.  Over the past two years, the terminal supported the fabrication of 145 concrete artificial corals to invigorate the marine life in the area. Two hundred households will benefit once these artificial corals are deployed in the site to be selected.

Finally, more than 260 houses for families displaced by the conflict in Marawi were built in 2020 under Holcim Philippines’ partnership with the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to support the rebuilding of the city.

Close to 45,000 bags of Holcim Excel cement were used to build the structures assisted by the 116 workers who underwent masonry training under the company’s ‘galing Mason program. This is part of the Phase-1 of the project the UN-Habitat in partnership with the Government of Japan, the Task Force Bangon Marawi, and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development. The next phases are set for this year.

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Toxic workplaces increase risk of depression by 300%

Love thy employees; as evidence shows that companies who fail to reward or acknowledge their employees for hard work, impose unreasonable demands on workers, and do not give them autonomy, are placing their staff at a much greater risk of depression.

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Photo by Bethany Legg from Unsplash.com

A year-long Australian population study has found that full time workers employed by organisations that fail to prioritise their employees’ mental health have a threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with depression.

And while working long hours is a risk factor for dying from cardiovascular disease or having a stroke, poor management practices pose a greater risk for depression, the researchers found.

The University of South Australia study, published in the British Medical Journal today, is led by UniSA’s Psychosocial Safety Climate Observatory, the world’s first research platform exploring workplace psychological health and safety.

Psychosocial safety climate (PSC) is the term used to describe management practices and communication and participation systems that protect workers’ mental health and safety.

Lead author, Dr Amy Zadow, says that poor workplace mental health can be traced back to poor management practices, priorities and values, which then flows through to high job demands and low resources.

“Evidence shows that companies who fail to reward or acknowledge their employees for hard work, impose unreasonable demands on workers, and do not give them autonomy, are placing their staff at a much greater risk of depression,” says Dr Zadow.

Internationally renowned expert on workplace mental health, ARC Laureate Professor Maureen Dollard, says the study found that while enthusiastic and committed workers are valued, working long hours can lead to depression. Men are also more likely to become depressed if their workplace pays scant attention to their psychological health.

Due to the global burden of depression, which affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide and shows no sign of abating despite available treatments, more attention is now being paid to poorly functioning work environments which could contribute to the problem.

High levels of burnout and workplace bullying are also linked to corporations’ failure to support workers’ mental health.

A second paper co-authored by Professor Dollard and published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology earlier this month, found that low PSC was an important predictor of bullying and emotional exhaustion.

“Lack of consultation with employees and unions over workplace health and safety issues, and little support for stress prevention, is linked to low PSC in companies.

“We also found that bullying in a work unit can not only negatively affect the victim, but also the perpetrator and team members who witness that behaviour. It is not uncommon for everyone in the same unit to experience burnout as a result.

“In this study we investigated bullying in a group context and why it occurs. Sometimes stress is a trigger for bullying and in the worst cases it can set an ‘acceptable’ level of behaviour for other members of the team. But above all bullying can be predicted from a company’s commitment to mental health, so it can be prevented,” Prof Dollard says.

The global costs of workplace bullying and worker burnout are significant, manifested in absenteeism, poor work engagement, stress leave and low productivity.

The extent of the problem was recognised in 2019 with the International Labour Organization (ILO) implementing a Global Commission on the Future of Work and calling for “a human-centred approach, putting people and the work they do at the centre of economic and social policy and business practice”.

“The practical implications of this research are far reaching. High levels of worker burnout are extremely costly to organisations and it’s clear that top-level organisational change is needed to address the issue,” Prof Dollard says.

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Is there a good reason online retailers should invest in physical stores?

By directing new customers to purchase a “deep product in-store” as their first purchase from a new retailer, they are more likely to: 1) buy deep products in the future online, indicating that they generalize trust across channels; and 2) buy adjacent categories online, indicating that they generalize trust across categories.

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Photo by Clay Banks from Unsplash.com

Researchers from Colorado State University, Amazon, and Dartmouth College published a paper that examines the role of physical stores for selling “deep” products.

The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled “How Physical Stores Enhance Customer Value: The Importance of Product Inspection Depth” and is authored by Jonathan Zhang, Chunwei Chang, and Scott Neslin.

While some traditional offline retailers are struggling and are closing stores (e.g., Macy’s, Walgreens), online retailers are opening them (e.g. Amazon, Warby Parker). This conflicting trend raises the question, what is the physical store’s role in today’s multichannel environment?

The research team posits that products differ in the inspection depth – “deep” or “shallow” – customers require to purchase them. Deep products require ample inspection in order for the customer to make an informed decision. We propose that physical stores provide the physical engagement opportunity customers need to purchase deep products.

To test this thesis, the researchers conducted three studies. The first used transaction data from a national multichannel outdoor-product retailer. Two lab experiments demonstrated the same effect.

The large-scale transactional data involving 50,000 customers show that by using a “deep products in-store” promotional strategy to migrate new customers from a “low-value state” to a “high-value state,” average spending per trip increases by 40%, long-term sales increases by 20%, and profitability increases by 22%.

The lab experiments show that:

  • By onboarding new customers to purchase a “deep product in-store” as their first purchase from a new retailer, their re-patronage intention for this retailer increases by 12% compared to all other product/channel combinations.
  • By directing new customers to purchase a “deep product in-store” as their first purchase from a new retailer, they are more likely to: 1) buy deep products in the future online, indicating that they generalize trust across channels; and 2) buy adjacent categories online, indicating that they generalize trust across categories.

The last decade has witnessed a marked increase in the opening of physical stores by online retailers, despite myriad changes in the retailing environment. This attests that these findings are not ephemeral. Zhang says “The general lesson of our research is for retailers to create a concrete, tangible, and multi-sensory experience for customers buying products that require this physical engagement. This sets the stage for favorable experiential learning and increased customer value.” Retailers can do this in numerous ways:

First, when retailers find that a customer is buying deep products online but their spending is decreasing in value, they can provide a promotion for deep products in-store. This can increase customer value.

Second, retailers need to enhance physical engagement for deep products through merchandising and training sales personnel to walk customers through the engagement – e.g., by helping customers try and use deep products in-store.

Third, retailers cannot infer product inspection depth solely from predefined product categories because there is much variation in inspection depth within a particular category. Rather, management should infer inspection depth using the proposed measures, or expert, independent judges.

Fourth, retailers should use a deep/offline onboarding strategy for new customers. That is, they should use acquisition channels that encourage the first purchase to be deep/offline.

Zhang adds that “We also discuss related issues such as using stores versus showrooms; fielding full or limited staff; selling private label goods; designing loyalty and buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) programs; and leveraging technology to create physical engagement in online settings.”

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Xendit launches payment gateway services to individual business owners

When individual sellers integrate their business with Xendit, their customers can make direct payments via direct debit through Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and UnionBank of the Philippines (UBP), e-wallets such as GCash, GrabPay, and PayMaya, or Over-the-Counter via 7-Eleven and Cebuana Lhuillier. Meanwhile, sole proprietors, corporations, and partnerships can also process credit card payments.

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The ongoing pandemic has brought out the creative side of many Filipinos, who have found ways to supplement their incomes by selling various products or services on social media. Xendit is making it easier for individual business owners to settle payments with access to a world-class platform that makes billings simple, secure, and easy.

“The pandemic has seen a rise in individual sellers who utilize social media to sell their goods and services. The digital nature of transactions means payment methods need to adapt. We want to empower these rising contributors to the Philippine economy with a platform that handles payments for them while they focus on their business,” says Alyzza Acacio, Philippine SME Task Force Lead of Xendit Philippines.

When individual sellers integrate their business with Xendit, their customers can make direct payments via direct debit through Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and UnionBank of the Philippines (UBP), e-wallets such as GCash, GrabPay, and PayMaya, or Over-the-Counter via 7-Eleven and Cebuana Lhuillier. Meanwhile, sole proprietors, corporations, and partnerships can also process credit card payments.

Since Xendit handles payments on the individual seller’s behalf, entrepreneurs can focus on fulfilling orders and growing their business. They no longer need to coordinate with each customer for payments because transaction statuses are updated in real-time on the Xendit dashboard. 

Xendit’s mission is to make payments simple, so that even entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) unfamiliar who are not as technically savvy can integrate with the platform easily. Xendit is available in platforms such as Wix, Shopify, or WooCommerce. Those who rely solely on social media for business can generate payment links that customers can access. Sellers also have access to their transaction history on a centralized dashboard to monitor sales and payments.

“We need to continue to support the Filipino micro-entrepreneurs and small business owners to embrace the digital age; they have experienced the ease that online selling and marketing and smartphones have brought them closer to their customers. The next step is to help them grow their business by helping them manage day-to-day tasks in their enterprise and improve their financial literacy as they experience and use fintech products and platforms more and more,” says Ana Mijares, Senior Trainer for the Go Digital ASEAN initiative.

To welcome SMEs, Xendit is offering up to P1.6 million worth of waived transaction fees for new sign-ups. The platform is also waiving P1 million in fees for individual sellers.

Opening its platform to individual sellers is just one of Xendit’s many ways to empower SMEs using technology. Its Level Up accelerator program supports entrepreneurs through masterclasses and challenges that give them the tools and know-how to scale their businesses. The program also includes giving P3.5 million in free transactions for 1,000 startups for one year through its video challenge

Xendit is the simplest and most trusted name in digital transactions in the region. It powers SMEs as well as the Philippines’ largest enterprises. Xendit is committed to building a solid payment infrastructure for the country and the rest of Southeast Asia.

“We launched an SME task force at the beginning of the year to help create solutions for Filipino businesses that may have been affected by the pandemic. We hope to continue our support for Filipino MSMEs so they can grow their business and help the Philippine economy,” says Yang Yang Zhang, Managing Director of Xendit Philippines.

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