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Press Release

Companies react proactively to the pandemic

Covid-19 survey

Future of Work|Talent|Total Rewards
COVID 19 Coronavirus

May 26, 2020

Has the Covid-19 situation changed the priorities of companies? Where in detail do they feel the impact of the pandemic? A survey by Willis Towers Watson shows that despite all the challenges, the vast majority of Swiss companies are looking positively to the future in the medium term.

Zurich, 26 May 2020

It is an incredibly challenging time for many companies. We are moving into uncharted waters and are now participating in the world's largest experiment in 'working from home'.”

Krisztina Csedő
Head of Talents & Rewards, Switzerland

"It is an incredibly challenging time for many companies. We are moving into uncharted waters and are now participating in the world's largest experiment in 'working from home'," says Krisztina Csedő, Head of Talents & Rewards at Willis Towers Watson in Switzerland, summarizing the situation.

Despite the uncertain future, many companies remain positive. In a recent parallel survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson in 25 countries, 61% of Swiss companies believe that the situation will have negative consequences for the company in the next six months. 47% expect the effects to be felt for up to a year. However, only one-fifth believe that the negative consequences will be felt over a longer time horizon of up to two years.

Training and information have priority

Swiss companies have taken various measures to meet the challenges of the pandemic. The vast majority, namely 89%, have adapted their travel regulations or restricted travel. In second place, almost a third, 29%, offer further training opportunities to retrain their employees. A further 26% are planning or considering such measures for the future.

In addition to measures to support health, almost all companies (98%) focus on proactive communication to inform and motivate their employees. 83% have set up virtual initiatives for this purpose. 84% use online tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp for social interaction.

Productivity thanks to flexibility

88% of Swiss employers claim to have introduced specific measures to support their employees during this period: Over half of them (53%) offer flexibility in working hours. 39% of companies continue to pay their employees in isolation 100% salary without deducting days off from their holiday balance. "By adopting a flexible approach to existing work arrangements, companies can help their employees adapt to their new situation. Companies in turn benefit from more productive and committed employees," confirms Krisztina Csedő. This is evidenced by the fact that 44% of employers see little or no negative impact of the home office on productivity.

Cost control as a measure

In order to cushion the impact of lower sales, the main measures introduced at the time of the survey in the area of personnel costs were cost control measures rather than cost reduction measures. These include, for example, the postponement of wage increases. One in five employers in Switzerland postponed wage rounds due to the pandemic. This is a lower figure than in the UK and Western Europe, where one in three employers has postponed wage rounds. In principle, the salary rounds in Switzerland will probably be postponed by four to five months. More than half of Swiss employers plan to offer their employees the option of voluntary unpaid leave or have already done so.

In addition, almost two-fifths (39%) of Swiss employers have changed their onboarding strategy and only a few (8%) have adjusted their performance management strategy. 58% have delayed, reduced (47%) or suspended (46%) new hires.

In addition, one in six respondents in Switzerland indicated that their company intends to introduce a reduction in base pay for corporate functions or has already done so. This is a higher number than in the UK and Western Europe, where it is one in eight companies.

"This is a critical moment in the management of many organizations," says Krisztina Csedő. "Employers who take action to put people first will be best placed to maintain a high level of employee well-being and commitment, restore stability and lay a foundation for future business success.

About the study

A total of 996 employers based in the UK and Western Europe took part in the COVID 19 impulse survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson in April 2020. Among them were 81 companies with operations in Switzerland, 56% of which are listed companies.

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