Early Internal COVID-19 Initiatives Continue to Keep Univision Employees Informed, Prepared, United and Safe 

A picture containing person, clothing, person, smiling    Description automatically generatedIn early 2020, while most of America was not yet familiar with the emerging health threats posed by the COVID-19 virus, Univision, the leading Hispanic media company in the U.S., had already activated the Univision Crisis Response Team (CRT), comprised of company leaders from Human Resources, Legal, Global Security, IT, Facilities and Communications, to keep employees informed, prepared and, ultimately, healthy and safe.  This early step became one of many transformative and responsive measures put in place to safeguard Univision’s workforce and ensure the company continued to inform, entertain and empower audiences nationwide. 

The CRT, led by Aida Perez, Chief Global Security Officer, acted swiftly and quickly during those early days, meeting daily to establish protocols and procedures in response to the rapidly evolving pandemic and provide leadership to the company’s nearly 3,500 employees. The CRT positioned the company to be proactive in identifying and mitigating potential health and operational risks. 

Univision shifted most of its U.S. workforce to a remote work scenario and activated tools to enhance connectivity and collaboration. Employees were given additional guidance on these temporary arrangements through Univision’s newly developed COVID-19 Work from Home (WFH) policy. The policy provides guidance on how employees can remain productive and efficient while offering details on work schedules and standards, technology and equipment, and data security.  

For some, however, working remotely was not an option. Univision’s essential personnel across its news, broadcast operations, digital teams and others ensured the continuous broadcast of television and radio content – vital touchstones for Hispanic communities in need of critical information and news, and a source of much-needed entertainment.  The CRT instituted guidelines significantly restricting non-essential business travel, eliminating in-person group meetings and implementing a rigorous protocol of continuous office cleanings. The company also sourced and procured bulk orders of personal protective equipment (PPE), including hand sanitizer, face masks and shields and disinfectant wipes, and sent robust care packages of supplies to every employee in all its markets, domestic and international. 

Univision also established a Coronavirus Resource Page on the company’s intranet, which quickly became and continues to be an important resource portal for employees. The page features videos with Univision’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Juan Rivera, who gives recommendations and practical tips to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The page also features the many protocols, policies and guidelines developed by the CRT which are regularly updated based on guidance from the CDC, federal and local authorities and other expert sources. Univision launched a digital health screening tool in partnership with Appian which allowed essential personnel to be cleared for worksite access. Through Appian, employees respond to questions and enter necessary information which determines if they may enter Univision’s workspaces, advises managers and then delivers a personalized QR code access pass.  

Aside from the Coronavirus Resource Page, Univision established a regular cadence of internal communications from senior leaders, most notably its Chief Human Resources Officer, Margaret Lazo. These often-heartfelt messages remind employees that their health and safety are the company’s highest priority and provide updates on evolving protocols and available resources. One such resource is the free and anonymous National Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which offers year-round online and live phone support. Throughout the pandemic, EAP has hosted webinars addressing the emotional health and well-being of employees and their families, in addition to offering 24/7 counseling services. 

Yet another, and most critical, resource is the company’s Disaster Relief Fund, which Univision made available to employees adversely impacted by the pandemic. Those suffering hardships and in need of financial support are eligible for one-time grants to help ease their burdens.

As a mission-driven company, Univision reminds employees to take great pride in the role they play to consistently entertain, inform and empower the Hispanic community, especially during these uncertain times. One employee communication noted: 

“As one of the most significant media companies and most trusted source of information for our community, we are hard at work providing even more live content to our communities at a time they need us most.” 

This is especially true in Univision’s Local Media division, where the company’s television, radio and digital properties constantly interact with the communities they serve. Within one week of the first stay-at-home order, Univision established company-wide protocols to mitigate risk and provide for the safety of its teams on the front lines. Univision teams worked arduously to create and build new support mechanisms to ensure that on-air talent had access to top-notch audio-visual technology while broadcasting from home. Meanwhile, production control rooms and studios remained open with limited staff wearing PPE, exercising social distancing, and implementing rigorous disinfection protocols to ensure audiences received relevant, timely information. 

The local markets collaborated and worked across cities, culminating in what eventually resulted in a COVID-19 Action Plan, prepared by Univision’s production, engineering and operations teams, which paired stations together to ensure that each had redundancy in their operations should they need it. For example, if the local station in Miami was directly impacted by a positive coronavirus case and had to cease broadcasting from their location, their “partner” station in Houston could provide alternate network and local news productions and operations support. This scenario came true to life just as the teams were preparing to test their new framework. 

A positive test case at Univision Miami’s news stations forced staff to evacuate the building immediately. Local leadership quickly moved the studio to the building’s parking lot where the staff created a makeshift, multi-camera set up where even the city’s mayor was interviewed live. The audience never experienced an interruption and through sheer collaboration, dedication and communication, the team seamlessly went live in just 90 minutes.  

On a national level, Univision’s daily morning show, “Despierta America,” was forced to shut down production for a day. The very next morning, the team was on the air live, broadcasting remotely with anchors reporting from their homes. Similarly, Univision’s teams pivoted to broadcast its annual live awards show, “Premios Juventud,” which became the very first live music awards show to air during the pandemic, breaking new ground in innovating on-air productions. 

This type of above-and-beyond teamwork became a hallmark of Univision’s employees and inspired an uplifting, hopeful series of employee profiles featured on the company’s intranet and in its weekly employee newsletter. Among the stories told were that of an employee recycling water bottles to make face shields for frontline workers in her community; another essential employee who began making facemasks with his family from his living room to share with local hospitals in need; the New York team who gathered voluntary donations and partnered with a local organization to deliver pizza to frontline workers; the incredible work done by the IT team to quickly deploy hundreds of laptops and set up additional servers to support the remote workforce; and the company’s Global Security and Facilities departments who rolled out new pre-screening procedures, designed new workplace office spaces to ensure social distancing and performed round-the-clock deep cleanings and sanitizations. 

Today, as news about vaccines provide people with hope, America, like most of the world, is still deep in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Univision, as it does for its loyal audience across all its media platforms, is continuing to provide its employees with the latest information to be productive and remain healthy and safe.