As business leaders across APAC plan out their workforce strategies for post-COVID-19, protecting their employees and supporting day-to-day business continuity are high on their list of human capital priorities, a new survey has revealed.

In Aon’s latest COVID-19 Pulse Survey, Setting the Stage for Return to Work and the New Normal, when asked to rate their priorities on a scale of 1-6 (1 representing the highest priority, and 6 representing the lowest), protecting employees ranked 1st, while supporting continuity ranked 2nd.

At the same time, planning for significant workforce changes such as furloughs, layoffs and restructuring ranked as a mid-priority on the scale for 62%, likewise with managing human capital costs (44%).

In line with this, a majority of employers surveyed said their HR function currently has separate teams/task forces focused on managing immediate issues (52%); while a lesser 8% do not but are “actively” considering having one.

Zooming into country-specific data - In Singapore, 89% of employers placed protecting their people as a top priority, followed by 83% for supporting business continuity.

Over in Malaysia, 72% ranked protecting their people as the number 1, and 59% for business continuity (2nd-highest priority). 

When it came to whether their HR teams had dedicated teams/task forces to manage immediate issues, 59% of those in Singapore said yes, while 60% in Malaysia said so.

Return-to-work strategies: Government guidance, internal expertise, and more

When it comes to how businesses are planning for a safe return-to-work strategy, a large majority in APAC will tap on applicable, local government guidance (86%), which is seen in both Singapore (89%) and Malaysia as well (88%).

Following that, most businesses will also tap on advice from health agencies such as the World Health Organization (APAC: 83%, Singapore: 83%, Malaysia: 84%), followed by internal expertise (49%, 50%, and 53% respectively).

On the other hand, not many organisations are looking to tap on external health expertise (APAC: 11%, Singapore: 13%, Malaysia: 13%) or external advisory firms (12%, 14%, and 13% respectively). 

Images / Aon’s “Setting the Stage for Return to Work and the New Normal” Survey