Company News

How to support your team members who have been affected by the crisis in Ukraine

We highlight what you can do and resources you can provide.
February 24, 2022
Oyster Team
How to support your team members who have been affected by the crisis in Ukraine

We’re actively monitoring the situation in Ukraine and will be updating this resource as needed in the coming days. 

As companies expand their teams across borders, many People leaders are finding the need to support their workforces in ways they may not have been challenged to do before. As tensions escalate between Ukraine and Russia, it’s important for employers to consider the impact on their Ukrainian workforce and provide resources as needed. 

As a global employer ourselves, we understand the need to balance empathy and support with feasibility and flexibility. Not all employees will need the same kind of support, and it may not even be possible to offer every kind of support you’d like to provide. With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of things you can do to take care of your team members in Ukraine right now.  

Check in with your team members

First and foremost, it’s important to check in on a one-to-one level and let your Ukrainian team members know that you’re conscious of their situation and are there for them. In these conversations, it’s integral that you lead with empathy and compassion, reminding your employees in Ukraine that their personal safety and wellbeing comes over anything else. 

We recommend having your team members’ managers, as well as someone from your People or leadership team, reach out regularly to make sure that they’re okay and create an open dialogue for them to ask for support if and how they need it. 

Focus on flexibility

In a situation where so much is uncertain and circumstances can change by the hour, it’s essential that you remain flexible and ensure this is communicated to your team. Whether that means offering time off, shifting hours, reallocating tasks, changing priorities, or all of the above, being flexible in your approach to accommodating your team member’s needs right now is vital.

We should also recognize that two individuals in the same situation may need different levels of support, or have different ideas of how involved they’d like their employer to be in a very challenging personal time. It’s important for us as People leaders to remain nimble in how we’re taking care of your Ukranian workforces and adapt as the situation and their needs evolve. 

Prepare for payment delays

Be mindful that during an extremely unpredictable time such as this, payment delays could be a possibility, especially if your team members and contractors are paid in Ukrainian Hryvnia or Russian Ruble. When supporting your team members in the event of delayed payments, it will be helpful to consider alternatives and have backup plans in place.

For instance, with team members employed through Oyster’s global employment platform, we have made the following adjustments to team member payroll: 

  • For full-time employees, we are routing payment to another international entity in order to prevent any impact to their payroll
  • Contractors from Ukraine and Russia who are employed through Oyster are paid in USD, EUR, or GBP and will continue to be paid in these currencies.

At this time, your payment providers may have shut down local currency payments to Ukraine (Ukrainian Hryvnia) and Russia (Russian Ruble). Be sure to check this if you haven't already. In response, your payment providers may also wish to route payments to other international entities in the meantime to mitigate the impact on your team members.

Have additional resources on-hand

While being caring, supportive, and adaptable are the first steps you can take to let your Ukrainian colleagues know you’re there for them, there are also services you can offer to aid during this time. 

Remember that such resources should be made available as options, and you shouldn’t force or make assumptions on what any of your team members need. 

Offer relocation assistance 

Relocating can be a daunting task under the best of circumstances, so providing access to relocation services for employees can be immensely helpful. If your employees express their need to relocate themselves (and their families) elsewhere, you can step in and connect with them with a service that can help facilitate: 

  • Visa sponsorship 
  • Immigration process assistance
  • Temporary housing
  • Permanent housing
  • Healthcare registration
  • Opening a bank account
  • Family relocation assistance

If you need help getting started, we offer relocation support through our partners, Jobbatical, Perchpeek, and Relokate, to help with everything from opening bank accounts and arranging accommodation.

Cover lodging costs

In order to keep your team members and their families safe, offer to cover the lodging costs of anyone who needs to relocate—either locally or to another country. While this will largely affect your colleagues in Ukraine, be mindful that bordering countries may be impacted as well.

Make salary advancements available

To alleviate any financial pressures in an already difficult situation, you may wish to offer your teammates in Ukraine salary advancements. This can help cover emergency costs and relocation expenses as they move to safety.

Provide access to mental health resources 

Living in a precarious situation such as the one in Ukraine is emotionally and mentally tolling. Giving your employees access to counseling is a way you can offer an additional pillar of support to your Ukrainian teammates and their families. At Oyster, we offer employees mental health resources through our partner, Plumm Health. You can learn more about Plumm Health here.

Consider implementing an emergency assistance program 

With a growing workforce in all corners of the globe, People leaders may want to think about creating an emergency assistance program to encompass natural disaster, war, political instability, and infrastructure disruption. 

In a situation such as the one in Ukraine, employees may require urgent coverage. An emergency assistance program would typically include extended health or financial care to help your employees through or out of their emergency state. 

Encourage time off as needed

During difficult times, time away from work allows your employees to focus on what’s truly important. Let your workforce in Ukraine know that they can take off the time that they need to. Consider adding an additional bank of paid time off for emergency leave, so that employees do not feel they have to ration their vacation or sick leave days.

If you don’t already have a policy in place for mental health or personal days, this would be a good time to implement one that empowers your team members to take time away from work when they’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or attending to personal matters. 

Help with necessities

If your company’s budget allows, consider covering the cost of grocery delivery, emergency supplies, or cell phone service during this time of instability.

How we’re supporting Oyster customers with affected team members

At Oyster, people are the driving force behind everything we do. We have been in communication with our customers and with team members employed through the Oyster platform to let them know we are here to support them during this time. As the risk level in Ukraine is now critical, safety is a priority, and we’ve advised that anyone in Ukraine and affected surrounding areas move to where they are safest. With the help of our partners, we’re offering relocation support as needed.

We know that safety is just the first step, and many customers and team members are concerned about any negative impact on their payroll.  As mentioned above, many payment providers have shut down local currency payments. To prevent any impact on our customers’ payroll, we’re continuing to route payments to other international entities. All contractors employed through Oyster in Ukraine and Russia are paid in USD, EUR, or GBP and will continue to be paid in these currencies. 

We’re actively monitoring the situation and working to provide access to more resources and information as both become available. We encourage any customers with concerns to reach out to us or our support team at support@oysterhr.com. 

Be compassionate and adaptable

When your employees are navigating a rapidly evolving and potentially dangerous situation, the most valuable thing you can do is make it clear that their personal wellbeing is the number one priority. Flexibility for the individual, and some parameters around what your company can provide, is vital in this situation, and is the key to making your workforce in Ukraine feel supported. 

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