As many as 72 percent of organisations believe the impact of coronavirus pandemic will be felt beyond six months and the single biggest concern for continued remote working is fall in productivity, according to a survey by consultancy and advisory services provider E&Y.
The ongoing health crisis is also forcing organisations to re-look at the HR processes and operations through a “digital lens”, said the EY survey titled HR resilience planning – COVID-19 impact and preparedness.
The survey incorporates first-hand perspective of HR Heads/CHROs of over 100 organisations across sectors in India on the impact of COVID-19 and their preparedness to tackle the current situation, E&Y said in a statement.
“While the COVID-19 impact can be felt by organisations across sectors, 72 percent of the organisations stated that its impact will be felt beyond six months,” the survey said.
It further said, “around 70 percent of the organisations believe that the single biggest concern for continued remote working is fall in productivity.”
As a result companies are relooking at their HR processes, as “more than 70 percent of organisations are now moving to virtual methods of recruitment, and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation and Machine Learning,” the report said.
The survey also said less than 50 percent of the organisations are prepared to manage this unprecedented crisis, while less than 35 percent are prepared if the crisis escalated and less than 10 percent have undertaken contingency and scenario planning.
“In this hour of crisis, the HR function has to be a business partner in anticipating change, co-creating a range of scenarios and planning for the future,” EY India Partner and India Workforce Advisory Leader, People Advisory Services, Anurag Malik, said.
He further said, “it is also the right time for the HR Heads to recalibrate their priorities, focus towards managing remote workforce, digitalize the HR function, and re-imagine workforce models.”
According to the survey, ensuring workforce productivity while working remotely is a concern area.
“Organisations will need to focus on building work alignment and work control through a structured work allocation and communication protocol,” said EY India Partner, Workforce Advisory (Africa, India and Middle East), People Advisory Services, Gopal Nagpaul.
Providing meaningful work to employees, increased focus on business improvement and transformation initiatives, and e-learning and certifications can be explored in this time of crisis, he added.
He further said initial priorities of IT infrastructure, like basic communication and operations support are now fading into the background as new priorities emerge.
“Going forward, we need to focus on sustaining productivity in the context of remote working and shutdowns, ensuring wellbeing, engagement in case of sustained remote working, and building cost management options in case we face a deeper economic downturn,” Nagpaul added.
When it comes to cost management, the E&Y survey said 55 percent of organisations foresee ‘medium to significant’ impact on employee cost, while others are still ‘unclear’.
“Many organisations have adopted an employee-centric view and trying to protect the junior management, a few are also offering additional pay-outs, hazard pay to support their workforce through these tough times,” it added.
Only 22 percent organisations are thinking about manpower optimisation in the short term (maintaining an employee centric view), while 35 percent organisations want to look at optimisation in the future basis business impact and in line with the newer ways of working, the survey said.