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Aon survey highlights steps companies taking to accelerate workforce resilience and agility

Aon plc has released the results of a new global pulse survey focused on how companies are rethinking their human capital strategies in response to the humanitarian and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aon conducted the study, ‘Accelerating Workforce Agility and Resilience’, from August 17th to August 25th, 2020, and a total of 2,004 human resources leaders and professionals responded globally.

Key findings from the survey include:

Making remote working better is a priority

As more companies announce plans to expand or extend remote working arrangements for employees, they are also providing new tools and programs to improve the productivity and wellbeing of their remote workforce. For example, 71 percent of survey respondents globally said their companies are actively investing in tools and technologies to support remote collaboration, followed by 58 percent of respondents who said their companies are providing employees with more wellbeing tools and programs.

Additionally, on a global basis, 42 percent of survey respondents said their companies have already enhanced, or are actively considering enhancing, allowances and reimbursement policies for remote employees in response to the pandemic. This includes covering cell phone, Internet and home office expenses, and in most cases, these enhancements are being provided on a temporary basis.

Supporting workforce resilience is a work in progress

Helping employees address acute challenges related to the pandemic remains an ongoing and evolving challenge for companies. Globally, 59 percent of survey respondents say their companies have taken some action to support working parents who may not have the ability to send their children to on-site schools or other childcare facilities. However, most of these efforts are currently tied to enhancing Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and expanding networking groups for parents. The prevalence of new or temporary programs to provide direct assistance to parents to cover childcare, tutoring, or e-learning costs remains low.
On a global basis, 35 percent of survey respondents indicate their companies have changed, or are actively considering changing, their time-off policies in response to the pandemic. Among these companies, 32 percent created additional emergency paid leave policies beyond what is required by law to cover caregiving, illness or quarantining in 2020. Another 10% of companies created policies covering both 2020 and 2021, and 5 percent created permanent policies.

Diversity and inclusion are viewed as key to improving workforce agility

When survey respondents were asked to assess ten key factors needed to build and maintain an agile workforce, the ability to attract and retain diverse employees and create an inclusive culture ranked near the top. Globally, 86 percent of respondents said this factor was very important or extremely important, ahead of factors such as identifying employees with key digital skills, introducing new career paths and developing flexible compensation programs.

Only two other factors rated higher than diversity and inclusion―technology tools and infrastructure and communications tools and infrastructure. Another top factor is the ability to assess employees for adaptability, collaboration and communications skills. Globally, 85 percent of survey respondents said this factor was very important or extremely important.

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