Protecting people is the top human capital priority for 89 percent of Singapore companies as they resume operations, according to the latest pulse survey by Aon. The city-state shut all non-essential workplaces on April 7 as part of its measures to control the spread of COVID-19, and yesterday allowed certain categories of businesses to reopen. The Aon survey, conducted at the end of April, looked into companies' priorities as they reopen their workplaces and some of the key measures they are taking.
According to the survey results, 89 percent of respondents said they will follow government guidance on health and safety measures, with another 83 percent saying they would look at advice from by the WHO and other health agencies—indicating that businesses are casting a wide net to grasp the range of practices being recommended both locally and globally.
Policy-wise, the survey results clearly show that COVID-19 has improved the adoption of family-friendly policies in many workplaces. 76 percent of companies are now providing scheduling flexibility to employees with children; 36 percent are allowing employees to use sick leave to care for children over and above the existing legal requirements. Medical leave entitlements are also up: 54 percent of companies are allowing employees to use sick leave to cover COVID-19 related quarantines, and 21 percent are offering temporary increases in sick leave entitlements. According to Aon, these figures are an increase over companies' earlier policies as indicated by a preliminary survey conducted in early April.
"Business leaders in Singapore are grappling with challenges that affect every aspect of their organization," said Alexander Krasavin, Partner, Radford and Regional Commercial Head, APAC and MEA at Aon. "They must make well-considered decisions on returning to the workplace that will not only protect their balance sheets but also their people. The human capital decisions businesses make now will shape the future of work and indeed their organizations."
Given that firstly, the "end" of COVID-19 is still uncertain, and secondly, it is usually easier to give people something than to take it away again, it is likely that many of the improved benefits companies are offering now will become part of the new norm.