Pandemic resiliency: business impact actions and priorities

Aon’s global COVID-19 Risk Management and Insurance Survey1, conducted at the end of 2020, was designed to evaluate how companies across different industry sectors have managed the pandemic crisis, their priorities for reshaping their businesses, and the implications for risk and insurance. The following analysis of the survey results shows how organizations have adapted to this complex, dynamic and disruptive risk landscape and how their future decision-making will be shaped based on their priorities. At the time of Aon’s 2019 Global Risk Management Survey, pandemic risk ranked 60th out of 69 identified risks. After potential threats from avian flu and swine flu receded, organizations appear to have considered the risk of a pandemic but deemed it unlikely to materialize — so few organizations truly planned for it or considered its scope or potential impact. When faced with a crisis, especially one they are unprepared for, organizations are forced to think and act quickly. Aon developed the COVID-19 Crisis Response Framework for Clients to help organizations develop effective crisis responses in real time using a structured but flexible decision-making framework.

Organizations’ resiliency is considered in the context of the three main time frames in crisis management, outlined by Aon's COVID-19 Crisis Management Model:

  • React and respond
  • Recover
  • Reshape


Executive summary

Aon's COVID-19 Crisis Management Model

Within each time frame, leaders face several key decisions. The nonlinear nature of the pandemic and its multiple waves of impact mean that organizations are in different stages of the journey. While 80% of respondents felt their organization had moved beyond the first stage (react and respond), there is still room to grow. This figure was higher in North America (89%) and lower in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) (73%) and Latin America (LATAM) (74%). Among companies in later stages, 50% reported that they’re in recovery mode, and 30% are now reshaping their vision, priorities and business. Highlighting the challenge of the pandemic, the number of companies that have already moved beyond the react-and-respond phase was not materially higher for companies that had a pandemic plan in place prior to COVID-19. Going forward, risk and business leaders must reprioritize risk — broadening their perspective and evaluating major shocks, not just anticipated losses, and elevating risk managers to an enterprise-level strategic role. Doing so will also enable them to redefine resilience. These are the post-COVID-19 imperatives required to reshape businesses into a more future-ready posture. With an integrated, resilient and agile risk approach, business leaders can make better decisions in both the immediate term and the future. In the insights that follow, we examine how organizations are responding, recovering and reshaping to emerge stronger and more resilient.

1 Click here to learn about the survey's methodology and its split by region, revenue and industry


of respondents said they had been impacted in some form by the pandemic; of these, 8% had been severely impacted



said they had thrived during the pandemic


of respondents did not list pandemics or other major health crises among the top 10 risks on their risk registers before this event