In EY survey titled ‘HR resilience planning - COVID-19 impact and preparedness’ 72 percent of the surveyed organizations in India stated that the COVID-19 impact will be felt much beyond six months. And as the impact continues besides business continuity it is productivity that they are most concerned about. Around 70 percent of the organisations believe that the single biggest concern for continued remote working is fall in productivity. In fact the crisis has led organisations to re-look at the HR processes and operations through a digital lens.
Digitizing HR processes amid COVID-19 crisis: Necessity is the mother of invention
More than 70 percent of the organizations surveyed are now moving to virtual methods of recruitment, and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation and Machine Learning are leading this change.
Anurag Malik, Partner and India Workforce Advisory Leader, People Advisory Services, shared, “ 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. 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.”
From a medium-term perspective, organizations need to focus on business continuity (i.e. reviewing hiring pipeline, prioritizing critical positions and high cost replacements to be reconsidered) and smarter ways of delivering work (i.e. leveraging gig economy for workforce rationalization and agility, talent redeployment and job rotations). But from a long-term perspective, role profiling and workforce alignment and technology adoption will be two key aspects for organizations to consider for organizations.
Managing costs for business sustenance
55 percent of the organizations foresee medium to significant impact on employee cost, while others are still unclear. Many organizations 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.
Only 22 percent organizations are thinking about manpower optimization in the short term (maintaining an employee centric view), while 35 percent of them want to look at optimization in the future basis business impact and in line with the newer ways of working.
Currently, only 50 percent of the surveyed organizations are ready to manage the COVID-19 crisis. Less than 35 percent are prepared if the crisis escalates and less than 10 percent have done any contingency and scenario planning.
If the lockdown in India continues beyond 14th April, managing costs and ensuring business continuity would become all the more challenging for firms. The EY reports suggests cost efficiencies are an imperative for business sustenance and given this, organizations should further focus on the following ways of reducing cost – effective pyramid management (i.e. optimization of layers, span of control and bands; career progression and driving discipline on promotions policy) and compensation management and driving pay-range discipline.
Besides managing costs sustaining productivity in the context of remote working, ensuring wellbeing and engagement in case of sustained remote working would also be key focus areas for companies. In fact, COVID-19 pandemic has renewed the focus on employee experience. Read this story to know how: When crisis strikes, employee experience matters!