While an overwhelming majority of Chinese organisations (90 per cent) believe that the COVID-19 epidemic will negatively impact their business and will directly affect their revenue in 2020, more than half of respondents (51 percent) were confident that the overall market would recover within six months, according to a survey by Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY).
“Given the expectations of a swift recovery for market conditions, business leaders will need to balance empathy with business continuity and the ability to rethink what performance means in the post-coronavirus world,” said Michael Distefano, President, Korn Ferry Asia-Pacific. “In the meantime, whether the response to the epidemic is properly managed may directly affect the confidence of organisations to recover their business in the future. Communicative and action-oriented leadership is necessary during this period to make people feel secure and taken care of, helping the workforce focused on preserving operations as best as possible as the outbreak spreads.”

Commendably, all respondents said that their organisations have put measures in place to counteract the impact of virus outbreak on their business, with 70 percent of HR leaders surveyed satisfied with the way their organisation is managing the crisis. In addition to quarantine requirements by the Chinese government, 90 percent of surveyed organisations said that they are providing their employees with protective equipment, and 81 percent have established emergency epidemic teams. Interestingly, more than one third of organisations (35 percent) said that they are also providing employees with psychological counselling services in this difficult time.

HR departments across all industries and company sizes have been forced to adjust their approach and focus more on short-term tactical tasks that deal with the virus outbreak, with long-term strategic work taking a back seat. Indeed, 53 percent of respondents regard telecommuting as the first measure that needs to be adjusted, as nearly one-third of HR leaders are worried about employee efficiency as they work remotely. Halting recruitment (44 percent) is also one of the most considered measures to deal with the epidemic, although this will likely result in a serious lack of resources and high demand for talent in the near future.

Michael Distefano, President, Korn Ferry Asia-Pacific, said, “We believe that 2020 is likely to be a year of two halves: the first half will be spent dealing with safety, containment, continuity, and contingency planning. As the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is expected to be high but short-lived, leaders need to ensure that they put the right measures in place to deal with the immediate impact of the crisis, and at the same time take a long-term view to ensure their organisations are set up for the inevitable market recovery. For HR leaders, this means ensuring that whatever adjustment they make to their approaches and policies now, does not stifle their organisations’ growth in the future.”