According to a recent ‘COVID-19 India Readiness Survey’ by Willis Towers Watson, a leading advisory, broking, and solutions company, 57% of organizations in India expect a moderate to large negative impact on their business in the next six months, while 46% expect this to last over a 12-month period. Signaling the long-term business impact of the coronavirus, 19% expect such an adverse impact to last over a two-year period. And only 5% of organizations expect a positive business impact within the next 12 to 24 months.
A total of 103 organizations in India participated in the Willis Towers Watson ‘COVID-19 India Readiness survey’ conducted from 20 to 31 March 2020. Data was collected from nearly 417,000 employees working across sectors such as Financial Services, Healthcare, IT & Telecom, Manufacturing, Public Sector & Education and Wholesale & Retail, with the survey results presented in an aggregate approach.
“The tough economic conditions and anticipated business impact could drive organizations to consider workforce optimization. Employers should take an emphatic and considerate approach and evaluate options such as staff redeployment, reduced working hours/days, long service leave, sabbatical, furlough, hiring freeze and voluntary pay cuts, before any serious consideration of a workforce reduction. In a post-COVID-19 world, some companies may need to re-hire and potential employees will factor in the consideration of organizational culture and how companies have treated their employees during the crisis”, said Rohit Jain, Head of India, Willis Towers Watson.
Salary increments, performance appraisals, and incentives
The survey found that 42% of respondents have not taken a decision on salary increment budgets for this year, while 33% indicated that performance appraisals and bonus pay-outs will happen as planned. Furthermore, 77% said that there will be no reduction in salaries and 53% responded that there have been no adjustments to the sales incentive pay-outs. Almost one in three respondents anticipate that their 2020 annual bonus for executives and employees will be impacted, while 17% expect an impact on their 2020 Long Term Incentive Plans.
Remote working, leveraging technology and effective communication
83% percent of organizations plan to review their work-from-home policy, and 46% indicated that they would reimburse employees the expenses incurred for setting up their home internet for work purposes. Employers are also taking several measures to keep employees engaged in the new scheme of things. These include team-based virtual or social engagement initiatives, regular company-wide or department level communications, and town halls organized to address employee concerns.
Employer response and preparedness
Over the past weeks, organizations in India have also initiated several measures to take care of their employees as a result of COVID-19. Most prevalent amongst these are increased access to hand sanitizers, provision of masks and other protective equipment, introduction of alternative work arrangements, increased communication on prevention, disinfection of worksites and increased access to counseling.
- Almost half of the respondents expect a negative impact on their business in the next 12 months; 19% expect an adverse impact to last over a two-year period.
- 42% have not taken a decision on salary increment budgets for this year, while 33% indicated that performance appraisals and bonus pay-outs will happen as planned.
- 83% plan to review their work-from-home policy; 55% have no fixed end-date on their flexible work arrangements.
The survey clearly points out that while businesses will be hit, many are working on re-strategizing to brace for the impact on business. The redeeming factor is that a majority of them have opted for no reduction in salaries, pointing out that organizations are ready to support their employees during the crisis.