It is certainly not an understatement to declare that most, if not all, companies were not prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, a recent global report by Aon discovered that in 2019, most companies considered an economic slowdown, business interruption, or a failure to innovate as among the top ten risks they feared. Pandemic risk was ranked 60 out of 69 identified risks.
The Asia Pacific region (“APAC”) showed the most robust resilience against the virus. Admittedly, many factors affect these numbers, such as when regions were impacted by the first and second waves of COVID-19. However, a strong argument can be made that businesses in APAC showed strong resilience against the virus because they were more prepared than other regions – which can be attributed to their reactions to previous outbreaks, such as SARS and the swine flu. 52% of APAC respondents had a pandemic plan in place before the COVID-19 pandemic, which is significantly higher than any other region, the closest being 31%. Results from the study also showed that APAC respondents reported substantially higher numbers of businesses thriving during the pandemic (11% compared to 7% overall). APAC respondents also beat the overall benchmark of the reported numbers of businesses indicating that they felt their businesses were impacted by COVID-19 (57% compared to 48% overall); and, they had much higher numbers in the “reshape” phase (the highest phase businesses find themselves in during their recovery from the pandemic – 36% of APAC organizations compared with 29% overall).
Now that a year has passed since the onset of COVID-19, only 16% of organizations felt confident that they are prepared for future shocks. Though it is nearly impossible to predict what will happen tomorrow or even what or when the next pandemic will be, it is best practice to have a plan in place. Businesses must learn from the past year and strengthen their ability to react, respond, recover and reshape, and build a more cohesive and integrated approach to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and future shocks. If they do, they will be that much more prepared to react to future shocks.
Many government agencies, such as the CDC or the U.S. Small Business Administration, along with the Aon report, provide excellent pandemic planning resources. You can also contact Employers Council with any questions you have. We will continue to update you on changes.