Boss gives staff Netflix subscriptions, early salaries to ease lockdown stress

25 March 2020 - 12:36 By Naledi Shange
A digital marketing company is sending employees home with an early payday and Netflix subscriptions to help ease tension during the coronavirus lockdown.
A digital marketing company is sending employees home with an early payday and Netflix subscriptions to help ease tension during the coronavirus lockdown.
Image: 123RF/pixinoo

As many businesses panic about surviving the coronavirus lockdown, a digital consultancy and marketing firm in Johannesburg has sent staff home with an early payday and Netflix subscriptions to keep them occupied for the next 21 days.

The country goes into lockdown at midnight on Thursday, until April 16.

Rebecca Karlovic, who joined the company in Fourways at the beginning of March, shared the good news on social media.

“My boss has decided to move payday until tomorrow and offered to pay for people’s Netflix accounts so they stay sane during this time,” she tweeted.

TimesLIVE contacted her boss, Petar Soldo, the CEO of Digital Republic Consulting.

Soldo, whose act received a thumbs up from rugby player Bryan Habana, said it was a natural thing to do.

“I’ve always viewed business as an extended family, so anything that I can do from my side to help people [I do]. We also tend to have very young staff in the company. We have 15 people and 12 or 13 of them are under the age of 30. This [the lockdown] is something I have never experienced and I am a little bit nervous about the lockdown and the virus, so I can just imagine what younger and less experienced people are feeling. It was about doing anything for people to feel comfortable,” he said.

Soldo said just as he would offer assistance to his family, he would do the same for staff.

Digital Republic Consulting team members at a team-building session.
Digital Republic Consulting team members at a team-building session.
Image: Supplied / Petar Saldo

“Looking after people is the best thing to do ... and as a business, you get the best out of them.”

Saldo said employees spent a great amount of time working and it was therefore always best to ensure their work fulfilled them.

“At the end of the day, work is still work, but whatever we can do to make it feel less like work, we try to do that,” he said.

The Netflix subscription, he said, was  something the company offered employees during the festive season last year.

Even before lockdown, his company was finding ways to make life convenient and happy for employees.

“A lot of people don’t come into the office every day to avoid traffic, so they are only in the office once a week, together, so they can bond with the team. Some people live in Pretoria, some in the East Rand, so to spend two and a half hours every day in traffic getting to and from the office doesn’t always makes sense,” he said.

The seasoned businessman told TimesLIVE that for him it was also about hiring the right people for the job.

“When we interview people, yes we look at CVs and do some screening, and depending on the job, do an assessment of what your work looks like, but we also do what we call a culture-fit interview,” he said.

Saldo said in his business a 'cultural fit' is key.
Saldo said in his business a 'cultural fit' is key.
Image: Supplied / Petar Saldo

“So, in the final interview, [the prospective employee] meets three or four people in the team and, at the end of the day, I ask the people who have met them to forget about their CV, education and all of that. [I ask], 'Would you like this person to be part of the office? Do you see yourself going for a cup of coffee with this person if it's not work related?' That's an important thing,” said Saldo.

He said his business would undoubtedly feel the affect of the lockdown as some of its clients may not want social media and marketing services during this period.

His advice to other employers was to remain honest with their employees to minimise uncertainty, explore ways of working from home and check on their wellbeing.


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