Agility, adaptability cited as key attributes by employers during pandemic

THE disruption to workplace routine imposed by the pandemic has highlighted the need for employers to be agile and adaptive, Willis Towers Watson Philippines Managing Director James Matti said at BusinessWorld’s Virtual Economic Forum 2020 last week.

Mr. Matti cited the findings of his firm’s employer survey on readiness to reset enterprise operations, which concluded that agility was deemed crucial in handling business conditions that “suddenly change overnight,” as was the case during the pandemic.

“Sixty-three percent of companies (cited) agility to redeploy and reskill their workers for other functions and focus basically on their business. That is what basically happened in the last nine months,” he said.

Mr. Matti added that 20% of respondents repurposed people to other roles as demand receded and job descriptions shifted while settling into the new normal.

Learning and development were also cited by most businesses, with the virus fast-tracking the fourth industrial revolution, which will digitize many tasks. Companies have put more of a premium in reskilling workers by appointing “chief learning officers.”

“There will be a real study of redesigning work processes so it can become more efficient and more (appropriate) to the needs of the times,” he said.

Companies also started strengthening healthcare and wellbeing programs within the organization to secure the workers’ physical and mental health. Mr. Matti said pre-COVID-19, companies did not have packages covering mental health services but are increasingly offering them to relieve the stress experienced during the crisis.

Willis Towers Watson recommended that firms demonstrate their commitment to their employees’ best interests and welfare during the pandemic and the digitization process. The companies’ “medium term needs and long term aspirations” need to be balanced as the pandemic threatens divisions between labor and management. Employers and employees must see themselves as partners in the change, he added.  

“Resilience and agility are really a critical combination for success whether their people are open enough to embrace change at a rapid pace and accept the complexities and disruption which will essentially be an integral part of our environment here on,” Mr. Matti said. — Gillian M. Cortez

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