Most companies across the globe have seen a dramatic reduction in business because of lockdowns around the world following the outbreak of COVID-19. The business slowdown impacts revenue immediately, but companies have to continue paying their workforces even though there is less work or less profit.
A JP Morgan India spokesperson shared that the firm recognises its people are critical to its success. “That is why we are consciously making decisions designed to prevent layoffs as a result of Covid-19, including significantly reducing hiring — in many cases stopping it — and working with local governments and officials,” said the spokesperson.
SAP also shared that it is committed to not making significant layoffs for 90 days. “We have our valued employees in our hearts and want to assure them we have their backs as we deal with this health crisis now,” a company spokesperson said.
Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman was quoted in the US media as saying that employees’ jobs would be safe this year. Further, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has pledged to do no significant layoffs for 90 days, Booz Allen Hamilton till July1.
Palo Alto Networks CEO Nikesh Arora tweeted his commitment to no Covid-related layoffs “to allay concerns of our employees”. The company has over 7,000 people in California, Tel Aviv and India.
Beyond businesses, governments across the globe are also stepping up to introduce measures that enable companies to manage costs amid the current circumstances and refrain from taking tough measures like layoffs. In an effort to curtail this practice, Governments, organizations and unions, across geographies are working towards building alternatives to retrenchment and furloughs, safeguarding the interest of both the economy as well as people.
Here’s how Singapore is dealing with it
In a statement to the media, Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress President Mary Liew shared, “I think it’s important that during this time the employers step forward and also show their appreciation and work together closely with the workers and also reward them fairly and accordingly as well. And moving on when the economy turns around, they will need the workers as well to continue on with their journey.”
Singapore’s National Wages Council and Ministers have come up with cost-cutting alternatives and guidelines for companies, emphasizing that retrenchment should be the last resort. While wage freeze and increment delays are among the most commonly adopted measures to navigate costs, the Council has also recommended employers to be open to employees seeking part-time jobs to supplement their income. As some organizations implement shorter work weeks to save costs, Council Member Aubeck Kem suggests that employers should be “encouraging and facilitating” employees in this direction. NWC also suggests leveraging training opportunities, introducing new job roles, and creating a time bank where employees are fully paid despite working for lesser hours now, in agreement to utilize those hours for work in the future.
Instilling a positive outlook in people, Robert Yap, President, Singapore National Employers Federation shared, “We should look at how we can use this opportunity to do a lot of things that we’ve been trying to do. For example, flexible work, productivity, innovation, how do we cut costs, how do we create that kind of habit that we work actually in a more digital manner.”
Apart from layoffs, there are many ways in which businesses can keep their costs in check, including revising compensation structure and delaying increments, seeking government support/ funds, reducing fresh hiring, and shorter work weeks and time banks. You can read more about these measures here: Keeping cost in check and employees on the payroll amid COVID-19