September 28, 2021
By Jennifer C. Yates
Leah Davies was pleasantly surprised by the knock on her door. But it was what was waiting on the other side which really made her smile: A delivery of a basket filled with wrap sandwiches, fresh fruit, cheese, crackers and sweet tarts.
It was a pandemic picnic basket, courtesy of Viatris Australia Country Manager Sylvain Vigneault and which Davies, an associate product manager, and her fiancée enjoyed outside on their veranda.
“I felt so appreciated by Sylvain and the wider organization as we’ve been going through lockdown here since June, and it’s been tough,” Davies said. “To see a company prioritize mental health, time with family and our general wellbeing is really amazing and very important. It makes me very proud to work for Viatris.”
As some lockdown restrictions were eased in parts of Australia recently for those who have received the vaccination, the Viatris team led by Vigneault decided to celebrate the new freedoms for its colleagues. Hundreds of employees in New South Wales (NSW) received a surprise picnic basket – or hamper as the locals say - and were encouraged to eat outside with family and friends.
With Melbourne having experienced almost 230 days of lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic, Viatris employees in Victoria also received a basket to enjoy outside, in line with the new applicable restrictions from the government that took effect Sept. 17.
“Ensuring our employees feel connected, supported and safe during lockdown has been our priority. We wanted to thank our team for their hard work and resilience during the extended lockdown, we know it’s been a difficult time,” Vigneault said.
In partnership with small, local business Pretty Picnics, the NSW picnic hampers were tailored to colleagues’ dietary requirements and included an assortment of savory and sweet goodies.
“It’s been a challenging time for everyone affected by the lockdowns, including small business owners. As an Italian caterer, food is how I connect with those I love. I was thrilled to work with Viatris on this employee picnic initiative. Food is connection and connections are exactly what we need right now,” said Jo Rapisardi, Pretty Picnics founder.
Employees shared photos of their hamper and enjoying time with family and friends in the sun on LinkedIn, using the hashtag #ViatrisPicnicDay.
Viatris employees in Sydney and Melbourne have worked from home for many months during the pandemic. This has accelerated the introduction of new employee benefits and wellness initiatives, to support physical and mental wellbeing. In July, employees received a voucher to support a local business and in August the team Colleague Appreciation Afternoons, which gave employees in lockdown two afternoons off.
“Throughout the pandemic we have offered our employees access to our COVID-19 ambassadors, made up of employees who have been through the vaccination experience, to answer any questions regarding the process,” said Vigneault.