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PwC Global Crisis Survey 2021

27 July, 2021

Majority plan to increase investment in building resilience - strengthening resilience is the key to success post pandemic, says PwC’s Global Crisis Survey.

More than a year after Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, PwC’s latest Global Crisis Survey looks at the worldwide business community’s response to the most disruptive global crisis of our lifetime. More than 2,800 business leaders shared data and insights, representing organisations of all sizes, in 29 industries and across 73 countries. While the survey does not include Ireland, based on our experience, we expect the trends in the survey to reflect the position for Irish businesses.

A photo of Limerick City with a rainbow in the distance.

Crisis management capabilities need improvement

In 2019, the survey revealed that 95% of respondents expected a crisis within the next two years - but not a pandemic, which had dropped altogether from the threats business leaders said they feared. The 2021 survey reveals that 95% of business leaders admitted that their crisis management capabilities need improvement. 77% of respondents reported that they are now altering corporate strategy in response to the crisis. The past year has confirmed that the challenge of crisis management is not about predicting the future, but dealing with the unpredictable. Businesses must focus on building a foundation of resilience to weather whatever comes next.

More than 70% of respondents to this year’s survey said their business was negatively impacted by the pandemic and 20% said the crisis had a positive impact overall on their organisation. Technology and healthcare organisations were more likely to be positively impacted, while travel and hospitality sectors suffered the most negative effects. Organisations that fared well were more likely to rely on a dedicated crisis team to drive their response to the crisis.

Andy Banks, Partner, Risk Assurance, PwC Ireland, said: “As organisations assess their response to the pandemic, the survey data and insights provide a compelling roadmap for rethinking and strengthening resilience capabilities. With re-opening in Ireland under way, all eyes are finally looking toward the future. Learning from how businesses respond to the crisis is an important first step towards building the right foundation for what's next. Crisis planning, resilience programs and the protection and consideration of physical and emotional needs of their employees are all integral parts to preparing for the inevitable.”

PwC's survey reveals that, even with a well-defined crisis team, organisations need an agile crisis management program that can adapt to address various types of disruption. According to the survey only 35 percent of organisations had a crisis response plan that was 'very relevant', which means the majority of organisations didn't design their plans to be 'crisis-relevant' - a hallmark for a resilient organisation.

Wellness a high priority

80% of survey respondents agree that their organisation has considered the wellness, physical and emotional needs of employees during the pandemic. The survey highlights that business leaders found value in acknowledging employees’ need for the ‘freedom and flexibility to perform their jobs while balancing against the changes in family lives'. Survey respondents agreed that looking after staff and ensuring their well-being and morale is a top priority. How we fully emerge from the pandemic has yet to be written. But the common thread of organisations focusing on the wellness of their workers should continue when life - and business - gets back to normal.

Three steps

Based on the survey findings, PwC has collated three ways that companies can better prepare for a crisis:

● Design a strategic crisis response plan to mobilise swiftly, stabilise business operations and respond effectively to the shockwaves of disruption.

● Break down silos. An integrated program is essential to executing a successful crisis response and to building resilience during ‘peacetime.’

● Prioritise and build organisational resilience — not just to succeed, but to survive.

Organisations in a better place today were significantly more likely to say they’d already given substantial attention to organisational resilience and planned how to respond to significant business disruption. Seven out of 10 organisations are planning to increase their investment in building resilience. And among risk leaders, that number is as high as nine in 10.

Andy Banks concluded: “Building resilience into your organisational DNA requires addressing it as a strategic priority. Resilience is critical to how an organisation weathers disruption and creates new opportunities.”

Three out of four companies are confident they can successfully integrate what they’ve learned through the crisis and invigorate their organisational resilience.

Notes to editors

Top 5 actions when respondents realised the pandemic was going to have a major impact

  1.  65%: Improve ability to conduct operation remotely
  2.  55%: Enhanced technology
  3.  40%: Carried out headcount reductions
  4.  38%: Modified communications/stakeholder engagement
  5.  36%: Deferred major investments

Top 5 actions respondents are planning to take now

  1.  96%: Accelerated transformation in organisational areas identified during the crisis
  2.  77%: More changes in corporate strategy in response to COVID-19
  3.  77%: Quickly adapt strategy to respond nimbly to major interruptions and implement changes
  4.  69%: Actively work on increasing resilience
  5.  69%: Implement a review process for future incidents

About the survey

The survey fieldwork was completed at the end of January 2021, with more than 2,800 business leaders participating including: 45% C-Suite, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, COOs, Managers and Heads of Functions - sharing company data and personal insights on the impact of the crisis. Representing 73 countries and 29 industries, their observations create a compelling overview of the tactics, tools and processes organisations put in place, what’s worked, what hasn’t and why.

Listen to the latest episodes of our Emerge stronger through disruption podcast series.


About PwC

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Contact us

Andy Banks

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6805

Johanna Dehaene

Corporate Communications, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6547

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