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Survey Report

Asia Pacific employers prioritise health and wellbeing in their return to stability

Health and Benefits
COVID 19 Coronavirus

July 13, 2020

Insights from the 2020 Asia Pacific Restoring Stability survey — Pay, Benefits, Wellbeing

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About the Survey

The survey was conducted between June 1 and June 12, 2020. This highlights report reflects responses from 746 employers, representing 1.6 million employees from 15 markets across the region.

Asia Pacific employers have been managing through the COVID-19 pandemic since early this year, longer than many of their global counterparts. As they now look forward to restoring stability for their employees and businesses, survey findings show that many are enhancing health care and wellbeing. Roughly 60% of employers have developed a strategy, protocols or a communication plan for reopening the workplace.

Nearly a third of employers are uncertain about what to expect in two years, making planning particularly challenging. Additionally, one-third believes COVID-19 will have a moderate to large negative impact on worker wellbeing.

Two-thirds of employers anticipate a phased or gradual reopening of the workplace. However, 34% said that they can envisage opening quickly (almost all employees reporting at once).

Key findings

  • Employers are taking various actions in light of the pandemic — the most common being hiring freezes (50%). Relatively fewer have implemented furloughs (16%) and layoffs (12%) compared to other regions.
  • Half of employers have made or are planning changes to their benefit programs, with distressed companies being more likely to change course.
  • Employers prioritise supporting employees by enhancing wellbeing programs, health care benefits and voluntary benefits.
  • There’s an increased focus on wellbeing, particularly to alleviate anxiety by supporting virtual interactions.

Business impact

Around half of employers think COVID-19 will have a moderate to large negative impact on their business in the next year, and in addition, 31% are not sure what to expect over the next two years, making planning difficult.

46%
expect a moderate to large negative impact over the next year.
18%
expect a moderate to large negative impact over the next 2 years.
30%
expect a moderate to large negative impact on employee productivity over the next 6 months.
33%
expect a moderate to large negative impact on employee wellbeing over the next 6 months.

To offset these negative impacts, many organisations have taken actions to freeze or reduce hiring (Figure 1).

Chart showing actions employer are considering due to prolonged economic challenges
Figure 1. What are the actions being considered by the employers due to prolonged economic challenges

For those employers that are implementing furloughs, the majority will continue to provide benefits such as retirement (86%), medical (86%) and life/AD&D insurance (83%).

Restoring stability

Three in five employers in Asia Pacific have developed strategies to return to work (Figure 2). A further 17% are planning actions, reflecting that the vast majority of Asia Pacific employers are looking ahead to restoring stability after the crisis and are readying their response to return to work.

chart shows employers are in strategy phase for when social distancing restrictions are removed/eased.
Figure 2. Employers are currently in the strategy planning phase for when social distancing restrictions are removed/eased

While two-thirds of employers anticipate returning to work in a phased shift, 34% of employers also said that they would return to work quickly — that is, almost all employees returning at once.

Download the PDF to read the full executive summary.

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