Study: COVID-19 spurs new challenges to ensure business continuity
Professional services firm Aon revealed the results of a recent study about labor practices during the COVID-19 emergency, which revealed new challenges related to employee management and labor practices to ensure business continuity in response to the crisis.
According to the report, 56% of companies expect to resume normal operations between April and May, while 26% indicate an uncertain outlook as they still do not have a clear picture. 96% of organizations in Puerto Rico said they have implemented remote work from home as the main measure to benefit and protect the health of employees.
Likewise, 57% of the companies participating in the survey said they had provided protective equipment, such as gloves and masks; family care support with flexible working hours for workers with young children (42%); and extensions in sick leave (38%). The implementation of employee assistance programs also stands out (61%).
“The results of the survey reveal that organizations in Latin America and Puerto Rico have responded effectively by activating remote work and guaranteeing protection measures for their workers,” said Lorena Rodríguez, Aon’s compensation manager.
The study also revealed that 54% of companies reported prevalence in the adoption of health and prevention measures; vacation (27%); and schedule changes (18%) to help and benefit employees.
Most companies (91%) offer updates on the measures taken; 83% use emails and videoconferences as a communication mechanism; and 79% share information on benefits or policies related to the pandemic.
The study had the participation of 648 organizations from Latin America and 100 organizations from Puerto Rico and with the representation of a range of industrial sectors: manufacturing, financial services, health, technology, telecommunications, automotive, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and communications, hotels and tourism, aviation, agribusiness, among others.
Puerto Rico, in line with the economic crisis it has been facing for years, is the jurisdiction in Latin America region that reports the most compensation changes, the AON study confirmed.
According to Aon’s recent survey, the vast majority of companies in Latin America and Puerto Rico said they have a contingency management plan, although they acknowledge that a health crisis of the current size was not on the radar.
Most organizations (58%) reported they will not make adjustments for now and will maintain planned salary increases and bonus payments; 14% reported offering unpaid leave. However, 55% of the organizations confirmed they will continue to monitor the situation and update their plans.
Organizations are carrying out greater control measures, such as: travel restrictions (90%); establish emergency response committees to make pandemic-related decisions (69%); compulsory work from home (68%); activation of the business continuity plan (67%); and management service to handle suspected/confirmed COVID-19 cases (51%).
Most companies reported a negative impact as a result of COVID-19, with measures such as freezing hires, a cautious approach to future hires, potential reduction of employees, reduction of personnel and relocation of resources. Only 36% said they do not anticipate an impact on their workforce.
It is anticipated that companies and professional groups with operational processes that cannot be performed alternatively will be the most affected, such as management, and in the hotel and tourism industry, and the hiring of manufacturing operations personnel.
On whether organizations in Puerto Rico are considering options to compensate workers differently in the current contingency, 62% of companies reported subsidies as an additional compensation option to employees.
On the other hand, 20% of companies in Puerto Rico said they offer vacation leave in the face of the crisis. This contrasts with that reported in Latin America, where, for example, companies in Mexico and Colombia reflected a more conservative perspective on compensation adjustments.