Core Town Hall: The 2022 Kick-Off Q&As

To address your concerns about the organization, we asked our team members to submit our questions to our leaders. We’d like to share the full responses of our management team to your submissions:


Is there concrete or specific plans on returning to the site for the Core team?

Tim: Emapta will be true to its values with being flexible, so there is no pre-determined date as to when everyone is required to return on site. For now, Emapta will continue to operate like what we have done before successfully, and up until this date. We will have to revisit our working arrangements once more of our client teams start moving into the offices, and if we need to increase our support.

You may also watch the rest of Tim’s update here:

We see the focus shifting to global expansion. What about plans for our Philippine operations?

Tim: Essentially, our role is to be a solution provider for our clients. Sometimes our clients have requirements or questions or talent requirements that we can’t optimally complete in the Philippines. Rather than having the client go elsewhere, we can now say to the client that we can do the solution. It might be that some of the teams will be operating in the Philippines and for other specific roles, they’re going to be in Sri Lanka or Colombia, or wherever it might be. Then we ended up providing a solution to our customer, and ultimately where we want to be as an organization is we want our existing customers segment that when they come to us, we can reliably say yes, we have that talent, we can quickly source those people at high quality at a good value proposition, and we’re going to be wherever we need globally to deliver on that promise.

But that doesn’t lead to any diminishment on what’s happening in the Philippines. In fact, we only need to look at what happened when the company decided to start expanding its offices. We started expanding outside of Manila, and demand inside for the Manila growth did not reduce and actually increased because again, we’re becoming more of a first choice for customers.


What are the steps we’re taking to manage the workload of HRBPs?

Nina: We are still hiring, would like to ask for people to be a bit more patient. We’re getting there. Of course, right-sizing the team is one way of managing the workload. If we’ve got more people helping, we’ve got more hands, more people typing and answering Skype queries, more people answering employee concerns. And we’re also strengthening our HR customer service team who will be helping the HRBPs with the new structure. We’re hoping that that will also alleviate the pressure that we’ve been putting on our HRBPS and really lessening more of the employee champion and really give them the bandwidth to be more of this strategic partner.

So that we’re hopeful that we’re gonna close that off. We want to increase accountability. I’ve been standing as a substitute HRBP manager, where I’m beefing up my competency. So at least I could provide more support to the team whilst we’re waiting for the real experts in the field. The very purpose of that is to make sure that we have very strong HR team members that are really the champions to our employees, not just client staff but also core employees. So all these things we’re doing are because we also want to make sure that the HRBPs are well looked after. We enable them to really provide the best employee experience.


What are the contingency plans for employees who are waiting for their packages during the holidays and for those who have experienced having COVID-19?

Vince: We are confident that everyone in Emapta core who reported to our HRBP to be COVID-19-positive has already been sent a care package. But if we missed anyone for some reason, please reach out to Marissa Banito or to myself correctly. Regarding the year-end party raffle prizes, we apologize for the delay in the delivery of your items. The challenges that we encountered over the last few weeks have already been resolved this week.
We expect that our partner may be able to deliver it within January.

Nina: We’d like to apologize to that employee who was not able to receive our care packages. On behalf of the team, my sincerest apologies and will make sure that you know everybody who really feels not well, not just by sending gifts, it’s the genuine concern that we would like to show our employees, regardless if you are a core or client staff.


For Customer Success Organization (CSO) managers, how do we deal with account handovers which can have a significant negative impact not only on our clients and staff but also on the performance of our organization? What benefits or programs can we look forward to this quarter to drive employee retention?

Nick: One of the top things that we are reassessing this first quarter of the year is the ratio of our Customer Experience Manager (CXMs) to our clients.
It’s always top of mind to continually address the workload concerns, and that’s the main motivation why we hired additional CXMs in the last quarter. As you may have seen in our video presentation, we started 2021 with 19 customer success team members and ended the year with 29 resilient team members. We bid goodbye to a few colleagues in the first half of the year who chose to pursue other aspirations but likewise welcomed new team players all throughout the year, which mostly drove our concessions and handovers.

Now as our growth is inevitable, it’s truly important that you know, as a client-facing department, we are committed to improving the quality of work and the quality of life of our team members. Moreover, rewards and recognitions are also being progressed at this quarter, including how we would effectively master its success. So all these in more will be further discussed in greater detail during the all-hands meeting with our customer success team.


What specific trainings do we have for 2022?

Vince: For 2022, we started the year with functional and behavioral sessions, such as Time Management and Effective Communication in the Workplace.

Communications and leadership training is coming your way on a weekly schedule that may include email etiquette, business writing, English communication, MS Excel training, problem-solving, and leadership communication. We have coaching and feedback, mental health and more to be announced. We have plotted a weekly rollout of these schedules every Thursday and Friday.

Technical training certification programs are still not available at this time, but we plan to partner with other training providers for this soon. Our learning specialist, Den Yu, is working on publishing our calendars to allow employees will have a single site to find all our learning products and offerings, as well as where they can enroll in their session of interest.

Please watch out for the announcement of this site as soon as we have it set up. In the meantime, Den will send emails for the upcoming events as our temporary communication channel. Lastly, the weekly sessions mentioned earlier are all live and are based on virtual instructor-led training (VILT). We are also setting up our learning management system (LMS) as we mentioned earlier and creating learning content so our employees can have bite-sized learning and on-demand courses, accessible at their own convenience.


As our organization grows, what is the plan for an HR system that would better accommodate time amendment requests and the like?

Henry: We have been aggressively migrating all the clients and team members from ESP to the Empowerteams platform. Currently, we’ve migrated around 84-85% of the Emapta population to Empowerteams, and we target to complete the remaining 16% by April before retiring ESP. So Empowerteams will become our single system that is used by all employees. It’s our responsibility as support teams to coach the employees and highlight that it’s their responsibility and it’s them who are accountable for amending their own DTR records within the allowable time frames because that functionality is there and it’s their own responsibility to be maintaining that accurate DTR record.

Empowerteams has been configured according to Emapta’s time and attendance policy that has been published by HR. The amendment functionality is currently restricted, and in my opinion, a task like amending the DTR records is not the scope of the HRBP, but I guess if you feel strongly about that and you want to take that process on and you believe it’s going to be more efficient for you to accommodate those tasks, please do reach out to your manager. We can also look and review the policy to configure role-based access control and grant you permission to make these changes after discussions with your manager.

In 2022, Emapta will strengthen our HR operations with additional managers as shared by Nina Vince and Nick. And we’ll also be creating a project to retire the HR mailbox and use channel services for all employee HR-related concerns. So with the above development and restructuring, we’re confident that we’ll be able to address the issues that you’ve mentioned.


For everyone’s benefit, do we have a plan in creating a tool where all account and staff information are available? It would be helpful if we have a one-stop-shop tool where the core team can access information of their accounts and only the managers have the capability to see other account information under their bucket for confidentiality purposes.

Henry: Regarding a centralized system, so our a centralized system is Empowerteams and I understand the challenge that all divisions are having with managing a large volume of decentralized spreadsheets that are used to store and process client and talent data and also track the progress of critical processes. This is an outdated way of operating and one of our objectives is part of our digital transformation process.

Being led by Empowerteams is to provide a client management module that stores all the client information, including signed CSA’s, special arrangements, contractual addendums, key contacts, number of active employees, no longer connected employees, and other key data sets that can easily be accessed. They can be viewed and reported on to give us more business insights.

Empowerteams has also started development on the talent onboarding module which will automate a higher percentage of the manual tasks that are currently being performed, provide a real-time dashboard for the status of all candidates, and populate critical data sets for the employee. So we must first establish that critical data set during the onboarding process and performance management activities and also talent movement with salary and updating of PANF files and all other regulated processes we are required to perform.

Furthermore, the IT Service Centre is developing an enterprise asset management system and also an online application to store the client key information document and workstation configuration document where it defines all the IT configuration for each client. We look to integrate this data set of IT systems with empowerteams. For example, as a CXM, you would be able to log in, be able to view a client and see what their configuration is, what roles, and what IT equipment they require.

Empowerteams has released the Channel Services feature, which is a structured workflow and ticketing system module that allows clients and talents to raise support requests to our shared service teams. So with these new technology-enabled processes and solutions, we’ll empower everyone in the organization to operate more efficiently and deliver first-class support to our clients and talent.


Which is the correct data that we can rely on when it comes to leaves, our payslip or Empowerteams?

Owen: For now, the most accurate leave balance is in your payslip. Data Accuracy and accessibility are some of the areas that we are focusing on this year. Information that is properly managed can be used to enhance the experience, increase productivity and provide organizational agility. There are ongoing efforts on how to reconcile empower in our payroll system, pay processes such as leave accrual, consumptions which directly impacts leave balances will be aligned and managed. Once that’s resolved, we will be having the page also available in Empowerteams it will be visible again to the users for them to view their transactions. Once we have tightened and corrected the process regarding the balance data, we would centralize everything on Empowerteams, so that information that you would see on your platform is the same that you would see on your mobile phone and on your payslip, all of them should be uniform by then.

I’m together with each department champion. We ensure that process gaps are accounted for and resolved with the best possible solution. We will be introducing ways on how users can self-manage and share information features that will focus on collaboration and not just automation and digitalization of our services. Now to accommodate the change, Empowerteams will also be going on evolution. Currently, we are changing our development framework to address organizational challenges, provide more transparency and be more efficient. Weare also expanding our workforce with local and Sri Lankan talents to accommodate more projects simultaneously. As the population grows steadily. Everyone is part of Empower’s journey. We are one, we can bet on Emapta. Together, we’re faster. We can build anything.


Are we going to get booster shots courtesy of EMAPTA?

Vince: Yes, Emapta will be offering booster shots to our employees, but this will be subject to the availability of our current vaccines inventory. Of course. Some logistical limitations as you have known before, there’s been like limitations, and on how we can transport the vaccines to the provinces. And of course, following prioritization guidelines set by the government. That includes having those with comorbidities first, staff reporting on-site next, and so on and so forth. So you may expect official communication and how you may reserve a slot for yourself starting next week. This should not prevent you from taking advantage of the vaccines being offered by our respective LGUs. If you are already due for a booster shot, you may recall that we are organizing this with other organizations and it’s a challenge sometimes to set up the schedule. So if you need a booster shot now and there is an available booster shot within your respective LGUs please, we encourage you to take advantage of that instead of waiting for our schedule.

What are the COVID-19 and vaccination plans for employees?

Vince: Preventive safety is always our priority, so we will continue to provide booster shots to our employees. This is subject to the availability of our current moderna vaccines inventory of course, and to make certain our employees are protected from the dreadful effects of this COVID-19, our site support team, we’ll continue to ensure our offices are always safe and disinfected.

For our office or our staff reporting on-site, in cases preventive measures do not hold, we will continue to try to support our employees and their families inflicted with COVID-19 to the best of our ability as an organization. Our benefits program has been designed to ensure coverage on COVID-19 and our telehealth services are already in place. And lastly, we will keep our mental health hotline coverage and will continue to provide mental health support to our employees who need support.

Some institutions are declaring a “health break” to give opportunities for employees to rest and recover from covid and its impact especially that household members get sick too. Can we have this too?

Vince: Emapta will not institutionalize a health break at an organizational level. However, like last year or the year before that on a case-to-case basis, if you need some time off to recuperate from or to take care of a family member inflicted with COVID-19, please speak to your manager and division head. They are both in a position to evaluate your need, your requirement and to ensure business continuity while you are away addressing the pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 on individuals and families are different from each other and we will support our employees on a case-to-case basis depending on the need of our employees and our ability as an organization.

Inge: For the health break, we need to be realistic about the kind of business we are in and the environment we’re in. Our business is to make sure our customer’s business continues to operate. We are basically part of the BCP, the business continuity plan of our customers. For many of our customers, the reason why they have established teams in the Philippines is that they need a backup plan as well for their teams onshore.

So guaranteeing their backup plan is the livelihood of our business, and so that’s why we can’t just shut down parts of our business like it’s done in other industries because it just doesn’t go along with our industry. However, if anyone who’s sick needs to take sick leave and needs to take time to recover, we encourage everyone to do so. And like Vince said, make sure if you do need a break or if you’re struggling or even it might not even be about needing to take time off, but just needing more help or assistance. Please do reach out to your supervisor or whoever you feel comfortable with. We have a really great open culture, so ask for help from whoever you think will be able to help you, and that includes us in the CEO office as well as myself and the team.

Aside from the care package what other forms of assistance are we getting from the company just in case a staff gets COVID-19, especially for those with no HMO yet?

Vince: As mentioned previously, the support we will extend to our employees will be based on their individual needs, so you may reach out your manager to our Emapta core HRBP If you have been affected by COVID-19 sternly and think you need specific support from the organization, for our staff when covered by our HMO program, they have been they have access to Consulta MD S our telehealth services so they can make a consultation with private doctors if they prefer one over the health service being provided by the local health centers.

Will we follow the Philippine government’s recommendation for private sectors to give employees 10 additional leave for COVID-19 related sickness of symptoms?

Vince: The government published this as a recommendation and not a mandate, particularly because their baseline assumption is that these organizations that they’re trying to suggest the policy to are only implementing the basics: the baseline five days SIL for their employees. For employers who are giving more SIL or more leaves for their employees, they’re not being mandated to do that, not even those who are implementing the minimum requirements like in our case since we already have more than the five days. We’re looking into addressing specific concerns about COVID-19 situations on an individual level or case-to-case basis.


Are we able to increase leave conversion for those who are earning TOIL?

Vince: This is not an option that we’re looking to entertain. TOIL and SIL are provided to employees for their consumption so they can take respite from work from time to time and come back with renewed energy to deliver their best at work. So our current SIL conversion and carry-over policy already strikes the balance between a busy year and our ability to allow staff to take their lives from time to time. At the moment we’re not looking at increasing it further, we would like to encourage you to utilize your leaves wisely and in coordination with your team’s operations.

Is it possible for the people who are working on-site to get their HMO upon hiring?

Vince: We will look into that with the finance team. In that regard, if you have symptoms and you want to get tested, all you have to do is to reach out to your local health centers or local barangay health officers. They should be testing you without the need for you to shell out money so that is free from our local government units.

Under our new HMO, is there a possibility to add one more dependent even at our expense?

Vince: Our health care program does not limit the number of dependents that employees can enroll. We only have limitations when it comes to the timing on when you can add that additional dependent. If it is beyond the enrollment window, we may need to for the next enrollment cycle for you to enlist your additional dependent.

Since mental health is being talked about nowadays, are we going to have a resident Psychologist or Counselor for mental health concerns?

Nina: I believe you know that Medicard, our HMO, has a partnership with MindCare. Sometimes it’s always best to have somebody as a third-party provider because of course we want to value the confidentiality of the conversations and the quality of conversations you would have with somebody who could give you some support and guidance right from a mental health standpoint or the intervention that you would need.

While there are still possibilities in the future, I think it would be for now in the best interest of the employees to really go to mind care and utilize your benefit of up to six sessions, covered by our Medicard coverage. And secondly, it is at the top of our mind to go into an in-depth session this February and we’ll look into our OSH and mental health program, so hopefully, we could share with you more insights and details on what’s in store for everybody. This was also driven by the result of a few mental health sessions that we hosted last year and we’ve seen the support and the interests of a lot of people, and so we want to make sure that we make more of these things available to you. So watch out for our improved OSH and mental health programs for everybody this 2022.

Vince: If you are not yet covered by our HMO, you are enrolled definitely under KonsultaMD, and their specialists are well trained by the DOH to handle mental health concerns.

What other benefits would the core team have this year?

Vince: Our benefits package that includes HMO, telehealth services, mental health hotline, group life insurance, gym facilities, SIL, TOIL, de minimis allowance is one of the most competitive in the market at the moment. If you would like to suggest additional benefits which you think would be a great addition to our program, you may reach out to me directly for further evaluation.


What are the company’s plans for 2022?

Please watch the video below:

Since we’ll be in a work-from-home setup for a little while, just wanted to ask if there are plans on providing internet and electricity allowance?

As mentioned in the Town Hall, Emapta is keen to give the Core team the flexibility to work from home until a need to return on-site arises. While team members work from home and are not required to commute to report to the office, offices continue to be retained by Emapta. We do not plan to implement an internet allowance for the Core Team as the internet connection is a prerequisite to the team members’ flexibility to work from home.

Is there a possibility to have a retirement plan benefit for Core employees?

Regarding the retirement plan that we have, we partnered with Zalamea Actuarial Services last year, one of the best and most prestigious in the industry, to provide evaluation for our retirement plans. We have also partnered with the Security Bank to secure and manage our retirement funds to ensure we get the best product that will help our investment grow and to meet or surpass the minimum retirement obligation that we have as per Republic Act 7641. Please note that employees who retire, not resign, at the age of 60, and with at least 5 years of service to the company, are entitled to the minimum regulatory benefit mandated by the law. Please wait for further announcements regarding updates to our retirement plans.

Please explain the new payout dates structure.

As our organization continues to grow, we want to ensure that we can provide timely billing for our clients and accurate pay for your teams. Upon reviewing and enhancing our payroll processes, we have also adjusted our payout schedule dates to earlier dates every month to provide more time for your team and their approvers. Changing the payout schedule from the current 15th & 30th to every 5th and 20th of the month is a long-term solution that aims to reduce the need for manually filing attendance forms and give approvers additional capacity to process the increasing number of requests. For more information, you may visit our Payout Dates FAQs.

Why not hire more payroll staff to avoid disputes instead of changing the payout date? This change will greatly impact a lot of staff especially those who have a strict budget.

Please trust that we went through a change management process, including consultations and careful planning, taking into serious consideration the impact of this change on all employees and our growing organizational needs. With our 4,500+ strong workforce today, it is inevitable to implement such critical change, along with other initiatives, to ensure that our operational efficiency is moving in parallel to our scalability. In an effort to minimize the impact of this change, the Payout Dates Change announcement has been made early to allow everyone to adapt and make the necessary adjustments to our personal finances. We have also opened the [email protected] channel for employees who would be needing assistance to navigate through this change.

We have witnessed the struggles of the onboarding team, especially the recruitment team is continuously growing but the onboarding team only consists of 3 people. Thus, our hires are massively growing. We hope that the upper management will see the urgency here.

We are keen on providing support to our onboarding team with our ongoing review of our organizational structure, and this is part of the improvements under the new People and Culture division. We will also develop a talent onboarding module on Empower.

Is there any update on the company policies/handbook with regards to leave forfeiture as there are times we cannot fully utilized the leave credits during this pandemic?

You are given the right to utilize your leaves under the supervision and approval of your immediate manager. For the remaining SILs you have within the year, our carry-over policy allows for leave cash conversion and additional utilization the following year. If you have any suggestions regarding our leave carry-over policies, please feel free to share them with us.

Laptops are supposed to be deployed to some staff. However, on our onboarding, PCs were deployed because units were not yet available. Not being demanding but it adds flexibility for us to use one in case internet issues or electricity problems happen at home and we need to remain productive by finding a place to continue work. Are there updates for us?

Our IT asset and procurement team is working on securing laptops ahead of onboarding our core new staff, and there will be major updates that we can share this upcoming March since we are also looking for equipment that is optimized for the work we’re doing for the organization. We also suggest that you can coordinate with the IT team if you already have a projection in terms of how many new team members will join you within the new year.

We haven’t been receiving any HMO numbers and the use of COC is too cumbersome especially with emergency cases. We have to call Medicard first but end up wasting our time because it’s so hard to get a hold of them.

We are constantly following up with Medicard and will release the IDs for distribution of numbers and delivery of physical cards as soon as we receive new information on this matter.

Any plans in giving 14th-month pay?

There are currently no plans to include 14th-month pay in our benefits program.

Is there any group life insurance for the core team?

Yes. Aside from the HMO, we provide assistance provided to principal members (employees) in the amount of Php100,000 for natural death and Php200,000 for accidental death.

Will you provide vitamins for our core staffing reporting on-site?

This is not part of our plans yet, but we provide other medicines such as anti-histamine or paracetamol to staff who need medical attention on-site.

Do you consider giving increments to your employees once they are confirmed or upon regularization? Especially for those employees who perform well and contribute to the team?

The Annual Performance Appraisal is where your managers can recommend salary adjustments on the basis of your performance collectively assessed for the whole year.

Is there any plan to implement provide support for achieving certifications like GCP, AWS kind of amazing recognitions in Emapta Academy?

Certification courses for technical skills will eventually be part of our learning library, so please stay tuned for further announcements.