Aon Report Highlights a Path Toward "The New Better" in Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic

12 January 2021 Aon

Study shows global shift in attitudes of leading organisations toward long-tail risks and the impacts on how society will continue to work, travel and convene.

More than 130 organisations across multiple industries and four continents in ten cities participated in coalition meetings, sharing best practices and outlining new priorities to accelerate economic recovery.

Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, has published a global report, "Helping organisations chart a course to the new better," which presents research, regional findings and trends on how organisations have responded to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to date and are adapting to prepare for other emerging long-tail risks.

Beginning in Chicago in June 2020, Work, Travel and Convene Coalitions launched in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Singapore as well as major urban centres in Dublin, London, Madrid, New York and Tokyo, including participation by more than 130 organisations from a broad range of industries. The ten coalitions formed across four continents to examine issues arising from the pandemic, share key learnings and insights and help develop best practices for moving forward. This report is the result of months of ongoing dialogue with some of the world's leading organisations.

"COVID-19 has fundamentally reordered the priorities of leading public and private organisations around the world," says Greg Case, Chief Executive Officer of Aon. "Our decision to convene these coalitions was driven by a need to build a collaborative roadmap to make better decisions in an increasingly complex world. Rather than accept the so-called new normal, this work leads our clients to define the new better on their own terms."

Along with the coalition dialogue, Aon performed a comprehensive quantitative diagnostic to address readiness, resilience and wellness as well as assess priorities as the pandemic evolved. Spanning more than 15 industries and representing multinational organisations from the U.S, Europe and Asia, key findings include:
• Nearly 89 percent of companies plan to enhance their wellbeing program to focus on their workforce's emotional and mental health wellbeing as a result of the pandemic.
• More than 84 percent of companies said they have strengthened their communications protocol to better react and respond to vendors, governments and employees during the pandemic.
• More than 87 percent of companies have deepened their partnership with key vendors to support the management process and coordination of a return to the workplace.

Through the coalitions, key themes have emerged by geography as participants identify priorities, build guidelines and best practices and chart the path forward:
Australia: accelerating the ability to adapt to crisis, building a resilient workforce in or out of the office and addressing the underserved impacted by the economics of COVID-19.
Dublin: workforce agility, mental health and wellbeing and the connection between innovation and collaboration.
London: how to return to the workplace, the future of work and the importance of data in that future.
The Netherlands: health and safety, building connectivity to balance attrition and improve productivity.
Singapore: the agility of firms and employees, the importance of culture and the future of work.
United States: the role of leadership and communication, the future of work and return to the workplace.

The report also highlights six case studies about efforts in handling the COVID-19 pandemic over the past nine months:
• Professional services company Accenture explores how strategic planning and integrated decision making, with a primary focus on safety, enabled the firm to scale its pandemic response and adapt as the situation evolved.
Bord Bia, the Irish food board, explains how its past crisis management experience allowed the organisation to plan for multiple scenarios and support Irish producers, farmers and companies while nurturing innovation.
• Science and technology company Merck KGaA streamlined its "Future of Work" program, a data-driven approach shaped by four guiding principles.
• Real estate services provider JLL identified the importance of networking and communication in its multifaceted response to the pandemic, leveraging its technology investments and forging public-private partnership aiding front-line governments in their pandemic response.
• Global restaurant chain McDonald's recounts how its experience in managing health and safety concerns and supply chain planning, along with support for its diverse workforce, led to the company's response.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former prime minister of Denmark, shared her initial learnings from the crisis, urging the private and public sectors to find new ways to approach collaboration to better prepare for future threats.

"Over the course of this six-month dialogue, coalition participants have reacted to shifting expectations around the duration and ultimate impact of the pandemic," Case adds. "Even as we publish these findings, new restrictions and lockdowns are being issued against the backdrop of a global race to approve and distribute a wave of promising vaccines. These realities reinforce that, while there may be a long road ahead, there is in fact a path to a new better for countries, companies and communities around the world."

Through recent research, these Aon-led efforts have identified four core priorities for organisations as they have shifted in response to the pandemic, preparing them to accelerate innovation and address future risks: addressing the underserved, navigating new forms of volatility, building a resilient workforce and rethinking access to capital. The company further examined these client needs in "Helping clients navigate an increasingly complex world," published earlier this year.

In addition, Aon's August 2020 survey, "Are you prepared for the next big threat?" asked 800 c-suite leaders and senior executives in the U.S., the EU and the U.K. about their views of future risk in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is available here.

To access the full report, "Helping organisations chart a course to the new better," please click here.

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