COVID-19: HR's main challenges revealed

Most leaders believe they're only 'somewhat ready' to deal with the outbreak

COVID-19: HR's main challenges revealed

Almost 7 in 10 HR leaders cite crisis management or business continuity planning as their top challenge during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Close behind on their list of priorities include managing flexible work arrangements and employee communications to increase awareness.

When asked whether they believe the HR department has been adequately trained, equipped and ready to deal with the challenges posed, a majority (42%) believe they’re only moderately ready.

About 8% believe they’re sufficiently ready, while a mere 5% cite feeling completely ill-equipped.

However, most leaders (88%) said the outbreak has allowed them to effectively demonstrate the importance of HR strategies towards mitigating people risk.

Main challenges faced by HR:

  • Business continuity plans (67%)
  • Manage flexible work arrangements (64%)
  • Manage employee communication (56%)
  • Address employee concerns on workplace policies (53%)
  • Implementation of preventive measures (43%)
  • Review of current welfare policies (25%)

READ MORE: Coronavirus: HR's role in business continuity plans

The AON study surveyed over 304 companies in the Asia Pacific region, ranging in size from small, medium-sized firms (under 500), to large corporations (more than 5,000). They also found how leaders have responded to manage the impact of the global crisis.

How employers are communicating with employees:

  • Provide updates regarding measures adopted by the company (90%)
  • Issue guidance to travelling employees (76%)
  • Share updates from business leaders via email or video (65%)
  • Share verified and trusted links to external sources of information (62%)
  • Provide ongoing communication on HR policies related to outbreak (61%)
  • Offer education through health talks (31%)

As for employee safety, travel restrictions were a priority measure taken by most (89%). Others focused on voluntary work from home (57%) and forming a response committee for prompt decision-making (56%). About a third implemented split-working arrangements for specific functions and roles.

READ MORE: Why strong leadership is crucial to manage a crisis

Across the region, employers have been offering differentiated measures to boost employee welfare. Top priorities have been providing employees with protective equipment like masks (70%), family care support like flexi-work for staff (45%) and Employee Assistance Programs (40%).

One organisation surveyed said its insurance companies have simplified the claims process and provided customer service hotlines for assistance if needed.

A Hongkong and Taiwan-based technology organisation has offered paid leave for employees who have children below the age of 12.

A financial services organisation has started sharing food coupon e-vouchers with employees to order their lunch at home. While other organisations have offered employees free vitamin packs to help them focus on their health.

Regardless, an overwhelming majority of leaders (72%) believe their organisations will need to reassess their Duty of Care obligations to employees after the crisis settles.

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