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The Stark Reality of Workforce Reductions Amid COVID-19


This story will be updated as new data becomes available. This is the second installment of WorldatWork’s “COVID-19 Quick Polls.” The first set of data, which includes information on rewards strategies and hazard pay decisions, can be accessed here.

(Last updated April 20, 2020) 

As employers continue to navigate the uncertain terrain in a COVID-19 world, WorldatWork is collecting data throughout the pandemic to gain a better understanding of how organizations are handling compensation decisions.

WorldatWork’s “COVID-19 Quick Polls” found on Friday, April 3 that 41% of the 86 employers surveyed are not planning any workforce reductions in the next three months. However, the proposition remains up in the air for many, as 38% said they haven’t decided yet. 21% of respondents said they are planning workforce reductions.


Of the 21% of respondents that are planning reductions, 23% said it will be between 6-10% of their workforce, 19% said between 31-50% of their workforce, another 19% said between 1-5% of their workforce and 15% said it will be between 21-30% of their workforce.


Reimbursement from Remote Work 
WorldatWork’s “COVID-19 Quick Polls” found on Monday, April 6 that 74% of the 77 employers surveyed are not reimbursing employees with expenses related to working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown.


Of the 25% of organizations that are reimbursing their employees for teleworking expenses, 37% are doing so for general office supplies, 27% for cell phone service and 23% for internet service.


Exhausting Other Options 
WorldatWork's "COVID-19 Quick Polls" found on Tuesday, April 7 that 56% of the 84 employers surveyed have pledged to pursue all other options before implementing layoffs. 


PTO Carryover Policy 
WorldatWork’s “COVID-19 Quick Polls” found on Wednesday, April 8 that 72% of the 72 employers surveyed are not making changes to their PTO carryover policy as a part of their organizational adjustments to COVID-19. However, 12% said they are increasing the carryover amount allowed, 11% are asking associates to take PTO if they accruing a large amount and 4% are suspending their PTO policy temporarily or permanently. 


PTO for Essential Workers 
WorldatWork's "COVID-19 Quick Polls" found on Thursday, April 9 that 86% of the 111 employers surveyed are allowing their essential workers to use paid time off during the pandemic. Meanwhile, 10% said it depends on the position and 4% said they are not allowing it. 


The second quick poll on Thursday found that 55% of the 58 employers that are not allowing essential workers to use paid time off amid the pandemic are allowing them to defer use. 


Impact on HR Technology Spend 
WorldatWork's "COVID-19 Quick Polls" found on Friday, April 10 that out of the 85 employers surveyed, 44% said that COVID-19 has had no impact on their HR technology spending plans. However, 37% of organizations said they are spending less or significantly less on HR technology because of COVID-19. About a fifth (19%) said they are spending more or significantly more on HR technology because of COVID-19. 


Long-Term Impact on Remote Work 
The week of April 13-19, WorldatWork's "COVID-19 Quick Polls" found that 57% of the 393 employers surveyed said there will be more or much more flexibility around remote work after the pandemic is over. However, 40% said there will be no change to the remote work policy after the pandemic. 


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