Most businesses have initiated continuity plans under Covid-19

13 April 2020 4 min. read
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More than 80% of businesses across India and Bangladesh have already started implementing business continuity plans in light of the Covid-19 crisis, according to new analysis from Mercer. The survey was conducted at the end of last month. 

The global HR consulting firm surveyed more than 100 businesses across both countries, looking to gauge the state of response to the crisis and its resultant disruption. Organisations were questioned on a variety of topics, including changes to compensation policies and the overall estimated impact on finances.

India went into a nationwide lockdown on March 25th while Bangladesh imposed a soft lockdown the next day. The economic disruption is tangible, and reports have emerged of businesses taking cost cutting measures, some of which include staff cuts while others are less drastic.

Business continuity plans

Mercer found that most businesses appear to be protecting jobs to the largest extent possible, prioritising the welfare of their employees in this time of crisis. This is evident from the fact that only 7% of the respondents expect to reduce their headcount as a response to the crisis.

Businesses are cutting costs elsewhere instead. When it comes to personnel, for instance, existing staff is relatively safe in most organisations, but all new recruitment has been halted. Less than a third of businesses reported that their recruitment policy has and will remained unchanged.

For the existing staff, some organisations have tweaked their increment & promotions policy to cut costs, either by deferring promotions and increments or by reducing the amount. Prominent examples of businesses that are implementing such measures include the Big Four accounting and advisory firms in India, which have deferred increments and even cut partner pay in some cases.

Impact on increments

However, Mercer reports that these businesses remain in the minority, as nearly two thirds of all businesses have so far made no change in their increments policy and 80% report no change to their promotion plans. This is likely a product of the overall outlook towards Covid-19’s impact, which remains tentative according to the researchers.

The firm reports that more than half of the organisations still feel that it is too early to determine the effect of Covid-19 on their annual business plan, although 43% have admitted that they expect revenues to fall short of their forecasts for this year. Most of those who expect a shortfall anticipate that this deficit will be significant, while others have a more moderate perspective.

At any rate, businesses have been quick to respond to the crisis, with as many as 84% reporting that they have begun implementing business continuity plans. A full 100% of the respondents had already transitioned to ‘work from home’ arrangements, obviously forced upon them by the lockdowns in India and Bangladesh.

Special measures under Covid-19

The focus has now shifted to optimising staff productivity and coordination under work from home conditions, which a number of businesses are currently struggling with. The first step has been to establish the necessary infrastructure for remote working, which includes a variety of videoconferencing tools as well as network boosters, among others.

In many cases, staff has been assured that the costs of installing this infrastructure in their respective remote workspaces will be reimbursed. Most businesses, however, appear to be focused on ensuring that their employees remain mentally and physically healthy, as they adapt to new conditions and overall largely grim circumstances. Mercer reports that just under 40% of businesses have established mechanisms for employees to manage stress and preserve their mental and physical health.

Other measures being implemented to optimise new arrangements include reduced or flexible working hours as well as increased sick leave. Some companies have also upped their medical insurance coverage, anticipating a spike in the need for healthcare in the near future.