La Aurora Cigars is once again among the best companies to work for in the entire Northern Region of the Dominican Republic. After climbing three places, it is now in the top 5 of the Best Companies to Work For in the Northern Region (MEPT) ranking, conducted by Mercado magazine.
We must highlight that La Aurora, the oldest tobacco company in the Dominican Republic, is the second largest employer of women (805) in this ranking of Cibao companies. It also ranks second in terms of trained staff (845), with a total of 29,273 hours of training (fourth place).
“With a clear orientation to values, a diversified offer, enormous prestige and a presence in the world market. Its growth has been continuous and sustained since its inception, its strategy in this area has been very clear, with a committed staff, highly trained and passionate about excellence, good business practices with adherence to the business vision of the company,” highlights the Mercado magazine.
Substantial transformations at La Aurora facing Covid-19
Like all sectors and companies, La Aurora had to face the new challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of the pandemic outbreak in March, we had to deploy our Special Situations Committee and this committee, in turn, implemented the Emergency or ContingencyPlans.
This initiative has been carried out thanks to the Special Situations Committee, which consists of several representatives from different areas of the company who analyze all the needs and work to optimize all plans, as our Human Resources Manager, Nora Colón, explains.
In addition, La Aurora has developed a complete infrastructural change to comply with the protocols from the Ministries of Public Health and Labor. Specifically, the company has designed a series of protocols to be compliant with:
- Sanitization of the buses in which the employees arrive at the factory.
- Expanding the fleet of buses that carry workers, to prevent traffic jams.
- Delivering of a hygiene kit to employees to take home each month.
- Mandatory use of masks and screens in the facility.
- Weekly PCR testing of employees suspected of being infected. They are also provided with support for medical appointments and access to medication.
“We can say that, as a company, we have it well in hand,” says La Aurora’ Human Resources Manager, Nora Colón. And she adds: “The commitment we have made with our employees has been based on their participation and involvement.”
As a company, we not only care about our employees, but also about their families. That is why we have launched an information program to train our employees for this new situation. We have also been constantly surveying and asking our employees how they feel. “Not only because of the illness as such, but also to know how they feel, because some people have developed anxiety issues,” explains Nora Colón.
Telework and gradual return to the factory
All these deployed tools have been the result of daily meetings, as well as constant monitoring to ensure compliance with all measures. “It has been a hard work, but it makes the vast majority of the committee proud of what we are doing. We have been learning as we go and we have achieved a lot,” says Nora Colón.
Although La Aurora is an 100% industrial company in its primary activity and continuous work (24/5), at the beginning of the crisis, almost all the administrative staff was working hard from home, thanks to the work of the IT Department. To this day, there are still people in telework.
On an industrial level, we have undergone a gradual return to the workplace. When the factory resumed activity on April 13, there were about 300 employees in the factory. This staff was increased on a weekly basis with additional groups of people. “The company allowed employees at the plant level to choose whether they felt comfortable going to work or wanted to stay home. For four months, many workers chose to stay at home and the company kept their jobs. It was voluntary,” explains Nora Colón.
In her opinion, the biggest challenge after the crisis onset was to think that even if we were not one hundred percent present in the factory, the work had to be done. We also had to be able to comply, in a limited time, with all the protocols, and we worked hard to achieve this. “We are a company that welcomes foreigners and we have more than 2,000 employees. And we had to ensure that all areas were clearly marked and that all protocols were followed,” recalls La Aurora’s Human Resources Manager.
As for the future, Nora Colón points out that La Aurora has decided to continue incorporating the new working methods available. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages of telework are being analyzed. “I understand that the new modality is already part of our way of working,” she concludes.
Year after year, La Aurora receives numerous acknowledgements as a company
This acknowledgement is not new to our company. Last year, La Aurora Cigars was among the most admired companies in the Dominican Republic in 2019. It also ranked first in the tobacco factory sector in “Mercado” magazine. Also, in 2018, it was the most admired tobacco company in the Dominican Republic.