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Dutch employers freeze pay and recruitment to survive COVID-19 economic slump

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COVID 19 Coronavirus

June 02, 2020

AMSTELVEEN, 2 June 2020 — Businesses in the Netherlands have scrapped hiring plans and are looking to make savings from pay and bonuses as they struggle to cope with the economic headwinds created by the global pandemic, according to research by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW), a leading global advisory, broking, and solutions company.

In a survey of Dutch businesses about COVID-19, half (51%) said that, for the rest of 2020, they had banned any new hiring. A lower proportion of 10% had already made redundancies, though a further 8% were planning to do so.

With respect to pay, 17% of respondents have frozen salaries for the rest of 2020 and a total of 21% are either reducing or delaying pay raises. 12% have either cut salaries or plan to do so, while a further 17% were considering it.

Almost one in five (17%) have reduced or plan to reduce bonus accruals. However, 59% said they will not change their sales incentive pay, suggesting that employers want to continue to reward and retain critical, high-performing staff.

Angel Hoover, Head of Benelux, Willis Towers Watson, said:

“There are some massive economic challenges in the months ahead, and businesses are preparing for them now. Many employers are doing everything they can to reduce or manage discretionary costs. Even in light of this aggressive cost management, employers are taking tough decisions to cut or freeze pay, and to stop new recruitment. Together, these steps are protecting existing jobs.”

“Unsurprisingly, these operational actions run the risk of demotivating or disengaging employees. Keeping the workforce engaged and productive is more important now than ever. There are three things leaders should be focused on: putting essential tools and resources in place for getting work done, setting a clear sense of direction and motivating and inspiring employees to stay. Although the future is uncertain, leaders can help employees manage through the ambiguity until more certainty becomes available.” 

About the survey

Willis Towers Watson surveyed a diverse range of employers across Europe for its 2020 COVID-19 Pulse Survey, which was conducted during April 2020. The 109 Dutch respondents employ about two million employees globally.

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