WorldatWork COVID-19 Employer Response Survey - Comprehensive Assessment of How Organizations are Addressing the New World of Work

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Responding to COVID-19, how organizations are addressing benefits/pay planning, office/workforce planning, communications, and performance metrics.

WorldatWork is the leading nonprofit professional association in compensation and Total Rewards. We

The pandemic hasn’t just disrupted work, it is a body blow to the health of people, organizations, and nations.

Organizations are making sweeping changes to their benefits programs and workplace practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Results of the “WorldatWork COVID-19 Employer Response Survey” provide a window into how organizations are addressing benefits/pay planning, office/workforce planning, communications, and performance metrics. 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. (Journalists: contact judy@companyb-ny.com for a copy of the results.)

Key findings:

  • There has been a 415% increase in the percent of employees working remotely part- or full-time.
  • Over a third of organizations (37%) will provide full pay for employees unable to work due to illness/caregiving needs. Forty-seven percent will apply an existing leave policy/benefit; 45% will apply a new leave policy/benefit.
  • Among organizations making healthcare plan changes, waiving co-payments/deductibles was most frequently cited (60%), with non-profits more likely to do so. Other changes include implementing telemedicine (30%), changing how prescriptions can be accessed (30%) and creating/providing additional resources to at-risk populations (26%).
  • Most organizations (65%) do not have plans for additional hazard pay for employees required to work on-site during the pandemic. However, retail (46%) and healthcare/pharmaceutical (29%) workers are most likely to receive some form of hazard pay.
  • Most organizations (56%) have already paid out or are planning to pay out salary increases, while 21% are holding off.
  • Over half of the organizations surveyed are making changes to staff/operational hours by implementing: a hiring freeze, except for critical roles (72%); furloughs (39%); layoffs (25%).
  • Most organizations are not sure whether performance metrics will be adjusted: 42% are considering but not yet decided, 21% are still in the process of setting performance metrics.
  • Most organizations (67%) are sending out COVID-19 related communications daily or every few days.
  • Most organizations (63%) expect to be back to normal operations by summer.

“Absolutely every finding in this survey has a volume of stories behind it,” said Scott Cawood, President and CEO of WorldatWork. “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. Perhaps a bit of silver lining is the quick responses by employers to adapt and change direction and to effectively communicate these changes. Many of which will likely ‘stick’ long after this crisis subsides. And while most organizations anticipate being back to normal by summer, it’s clear that the future of work looks very different than it did in 2019.”
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About the Study
WorldatWork invited its broader membership and customer base to participate in an electronic survey. Email invitations were sent directly to participants on 3/31/2020 and results were collected over a five-day period. A total of 1,510 responses were received, representing organizations of different sizes and across multiple industries. Results have not been weighted, but respondent profiles have been included to assist with interpretation of results. Results are skewed to be more representative of mid-large employers, but statistical differences have been highlighted when present. The survey has a 3% overall margin of error at a confidence level of 95%. The error rate was based on how representative the results are for medium-large organizations.

About WorldatWork
WorldatWork is the leading nonprofit professional association in compensation and Total Rewards. We serve those who design and deliver total rewards programs to cultivate engaged, effective workforces that power thriving organizations. We accomplish this through education and certification; idea exchange; knowledge creation; information sharing; research; advocacy; and affiliation and networking. Founded in the United States in 1955, today WorldatWork serves total rewards professionals throughout the world working in organizations of all sizes and structures.

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Judy Kalvin
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