WCI, Inc
April 13, 2020

National Employer Survey Reveals Sweeping Changes

Organizations are making sweeping changes to their benefits programs and workplace practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of the WorldatWork survey. Notably, there has been a 415 percent boost in the percent of employees working remotely, part- or full-time. Further, 37 percent of organizations will provide full pay for employees unable to work due to illness/caregiving needs, while 47 percent will apply an existing leave policy/benefit, and 45 percent will apply a new leave policy/benefit.

Other key findings. The WorldatWork COVID-19 Employer Response Survey also revealed the following key findings:

  • Healthcare plans: Among organizations making healthcare plan changes, waiving co-payments/deductibles was most frequently cited (60 percent), with non-profits more likely to do so. Other changes include implementing telemedicine (30 percent), changing how prescriptions can be accessed (30 percent), and creating/providing additional resources to at-risk populations (26 percent).
  • Hazard pay: Most organizations (65 percent) do not have plans for additional hazard pay for employees required to work on-site during the pandemic. However, retail (46 percent) and healthcare/pharmaceutical (29 percent) workers are most likely to receive some form of hazard pay.
  • Salary increases: Most organizations (56 percent) have already paid out or are planning to pay out salary increases, while 21 percent are holding off.
  • Hiring freezes, furloughs, layoffs: More than half of the organizations surveyed are making changes to staff/operational hours by implementing a hiring freeze, except for critical roles (72 percent); furloughs (39 percent); layoffs (25 percent).
  • Performance metric adjustments: Most organizations are not sure whether performance metrics will be adjusted: 42 percent are considering but have not yet decided, while 21 percent are still in the process of setting performance metrics.
  • Coronavirus communications: Most organizations (67 percent) are sending out COVID-19 related communications daily or every few days.

Back to normal. The survey also found that most organizations (63 percent) expect to be back to normal operations by the summer. However, "it’s clear that the future of work looks very different than it did in 2019," according to Scott Cawood, WorldatWork President and CEO.

"Absolutely every finding in this survey has a volume of stories behind it," Caywood observed. "One of the biggest being the incredible hardship facing a large swath of the workforce. The pandemic hasn't just disrupted work, it is a body blow to the health of people, organizations, and nations."

But Cawood also pointed to what he called "a bit of silver lining"—employers’ quick responses to adapt and change direction and to effectively communicate these changes, many of which he said "will likely ‘stick’ long after this crisis subsides."

About the survey. A total of 1,510 responses from WorldatWork's database of Total Rewards and HR professionals were received, representing organizations of different sizes and across multiple industries. In addition to this survey, WorldatWork has been fielding COVID-19 Quick Polls regularly.

Source: WorldatWork COVID-19 Employer Response Survey

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