Aon-led coalition of leading employers helps businesses to rebuild for a ‘new better’
New report designed to support businesses in navigating volatility, building a resilient workforce and preparing for the future of work in a post-Covid environment
Businesses in Ireland today stand at an important crossroads. As the vaccine roll-out continues at pace and the Government progresses with the gradual reopening of our economy and society, business leaders are focusing their attention on how to successfully transition to a post-pandemic world.
That’s why leading professional services firm, Aon, together with a coalition of leading Irish employers and Ibec recently published a new report, entitled Rebuilding for a New Better.
Drawing on the experience of businesses over the past year, it provides valuable insights into how organisations embraced change at speed.
Importantly, the report also shares conclusions to help businesses as they seek to both maximise business opportunities and respond to the evolving needs of employees in a virtual or physical workplace that has fundamentally changed following the experience of the past year.
Work, travel, convene coalition
Peter Brady, CEO for Commercial Risk & Health Solutions, Aon in Ireland believes in the importance of bringing businesses together to share their experiences and learnings.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that organisations around the world have had to tackle a set of once-in-a-lifetime challenges. Building resilience against these unexpected risks is a complex process – but one that can be achieved by convening people, ideas and outlooks,” says Brady.
Leading professional services firm, Aon, brought together the Work, Travel, Convene Coalition in August of last year with the original aim of sharing guidance on the planned safe return to the workplace. However, with the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic, this focus evolved. Reflecting this reality, the coalition assessed the approach needed to manage and reward a remote workforce while also preparing for the future of work in a post-pandemic environment.
Through roundtable discussions over recent months and data-driven insights, the coalition explored three key themes for employers to address going forward; navigating volatility, building a resilient workforce and preparing for the future of work.
Navigating future volatility
To successfully navigate future volatility on the road to recovery, the report recommends that business leaders develop strategies for mitigating new and existing risks. The risks of tomorrow may look very different from the risks of today, especially with the rise of digital technology as a central feature of business.
The report suggests that proper guidelines around risk remain relatively overlooked in Irish organisations. 37.5 per cent of coalition members who undertook Aon’s Return to Work Assessment Survey said they had not identified the risk management resources available in policies nor had they reviewed recommended risk improvement actions.
As Covid-19 has demonstrated, this approach needs to change. From natural disasters to cyber exposures to future pandemics, unforeseen events can and will emerge.
Irish companies will need to invest time and resources into preparing for the unexpected. Specifically in relation to cyber security training and modern privacy guidelines will need to be put in place among other measures.
Building a resilient workforce
Although protecting and empowering employees has been a priority for all coalition members over the past year, its importance will only grow in the months and years ahead.
“During the roundtable discussions, there was consensus from coalition partners that there is an increased acceptance of uncertainty in business, and a sense of ‘we’ll get through this together’. As business leaders grappled with the challenge of making important decisions under time pressure, it’s clear that protecting employees was front of mind,” says Brady.
“Through roundtable discussions and data-driven insights, our Coalition of leading employers have also been able to shed light on how to build a resilient workforce, capable of adapting to future challenges and innovating into the future.”
A laser focus on fostering a diverse and inclusive culture will ensure visibility, support and opportunity is equally
Organisations should look to update their change management procedures while rethinking the role of the office in an increasingly hybrid working environment.
Communication will be more important than ever in the advent of a hybrid workforce. Business leaders will be required to communicate the values that shape a company’s culture while line managers will play a crucial role in understanding and addressing the individual needs of employees whether in a remote or in-office environment.
Despite the many pressing challenges, a laser focus on fostering a diverse and inclusive culture will ensure visibility, support and opportunity is equally available to all employees – irrespective of where they are located.
Preparing for the future of work
According to research undertaken by Aon, some 44 per cent of Irish employees will engage in hybrid working in the future. As a result, the report suggests that organisations rethink how they will work best in the future.
Every aspect of the employee experience will need to be re-examined, from remote hiring and assessment procedures, through to the role of the office and an organisation’s health, benefits and wellbeing offering.
The report also encourages Irish employers to begin devising a phased approach which frames the return to office considering those who may disproportionately benefit from an earlier return to their workplace. For example, younger members of the team living in shared accommodation.
Crucially, the physical office may need to be reimagined as a space dedicated to collaboration, innovation, and creativity, rather than a single place of work.
Looking to the future
As organisations look to the future, Aon joined Ibec for a webinar discussion on the theme of Workplace impact: dealing with changing work practices and optimizing the value of the office. The virtual event took place on April 29th and will help businesses to reframe the future of the workplace.
The task of building a sustainable recovery while also meeting the evolving needs of a hybrid workforce is a complex challenge
Reflecting on this discussion and Ibec’s involvement in the Aon-led Coalition Danny McCoy, Ibec CEO said: “While the initial move to remote working last year was earmarked as a short-term measure, it will have a prolonged impact on businesses. Companies need to be prepared for the future and for a time when there is a return of the workforce to the workplace.”
That sentiment is echoed by Brady who highlighted that instead of accepting a ‘new normal’, businesses leaders should embrace the opportunity to build a ‘new better’.
“The task of building a sustainable recovery while also meeting the evolving needs of a hybrid workforce is a complex challenge that we wanted to explore further. Instead of accepting a ‘new normal’, businesses leaders should embrace the opportunity to build a ‘new better’. Through this latest report, our coalition of leading employers has helped to do just that.”
Coalition members included Accenture, AIB, A&L Goodbody, Bord Bia, Citi, KPMG, Icon plc, Irish Life, and other major employers in Ireland.