• Diversity, equity and inclusion also a key priority
  • Only 28% of survey respondents know which roles can work remotely permanently
  • 57% of respondents are identifying future skills gaps

Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, has released research identifying the priorities of technology firms when creating future of work strategies. Aon’s sixth Global COVID-19 HR Pulse Survey showed that 83% of technology firms are prioritising remote working, 72% are selecting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and 68% are highlighting agile ways of working.

The survey garnered respondents from over 1,400 organisations around the world, more than 400 of which were technology companies.

John McLaughlin, chief commercial officer of Aon’s human capital business in EMEA, said:

“The HR strategies technology firms employ are important because other industries look to them for insight on potential route maps ahead, particularly around the future of work. This pulse survey, Aon’s sixth since the start of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, shows, for instance, that 60% of technology firms have set up a future of work taskforce to help them understand and meet forthcoming challenges. However, just 29% have defined what the future of work means to their business operations. These figures are in line with overall respondents.”

By specifically analysing data from technology firms, Aon has outlined three key insights for other organisations.

Employers should assess both roles and individuals when determining remote working strategies 

Seventy percent of technology firms currently have most of their workforce at home, while 28% know which roles can work remotely permanently and another 31% are actively considering conducting this analysis for their roles. Twenty percent have assessed which employees thrive working remotely, while another 30% are also actively considering measuring this outcome.

“The largest global experiment of working from home has, in many ways, been a success, showing new possibilities for firms and employees. The question is, how do employers prepare for this strategically? Do firms ask every employee to work from home or do they ask about individual preferences and offer choices?” said McLaughlin.

“Employers need to first assess which roles have the potential to be done remotely. Then it’s about people. A fifth of technology firms have already assessed individual employees’ propensity to work from home to understand how their people do their best work. Physical or emotional elements play a part. For instance, some individuals may need more personal contact, better technology or a more powerful internet connection to fulfil their role as efficiently as possible.”

Changing workforce dynamics are impacting hiring, pay and wellbeing

Remote working presents an opportunity for employers to hire from new talent pools geographically; however, it does require careful consideration about location-based pay and pay equity.

The majority of technology firms (71%) indicated that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, their organisations had not modified their equity award strategy in response to market conditions, while 12% said they had and another 9% were considering it.

Technology firms reported they have concerns about the long-term effects of the pandemic, particularly on women. Seventy-two percent are either very or extremely concerned about women’s wellbeing, 63% are concerned about fewer women in leadership positions and another 57% are concerned about pay equity gaps.

HR strategies need to incorporate skills development and professional growth for workforce agility

Workforce agility is high on technology firms’ agendas: 57% of respondents are identifying future skills gaps, while another 25% are actively considering understanding it. Additionally, 54% are updating their career pathing projects and 47% have a talent mobility programme.

McLaughlin explained, “Workforce agility is multi-faceted. An effective HR strategy has talent mobility at its core and considers career path projects, future skills gaps, workforce and leadership training and DEI. If agile working is a key requirement for employers, they need to help people move into new careers and keep talent longer term.”

In the pulse survey, 59% of technology firms reported that employees pursuing better careers elsewhere was an extremely important factor in driving voluntary turnover decisions, while 50% said employees found a job with better pay.

“Preparing for the future of work doesn’t require companies to predict the future, but it does require planning for potential challenges that are likely to be quite specific to them. Learning from other organisations, especially those at the forefront of technology, helps HR to develop an agile workforce with a stronger ability to navigate the different challenges that can arise,” McLaughlin added.

To download Aon’s Global COVID-19 HR Pulse Survey, click here. Learn more about how Aon is helping clients build a resilient workforce, one of four core priorities for organisations as they have shifted in response to the pandemic, in its paper, “Helping Clients Navigate an Increasingly Complex World“.

Lisa Baker

Author Lisa Baker

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