88 per cent of HR execs asking employees to work from home during pandemic

Cost-cutting measures include freezing new hiring, reduced use of contract workers: survey

88 per cent of HR execs asking employees to work from home during pandemic

A strong majority (88 per cent) of global HR executives have encouraged or required employees to work from home, and most have no plans to cut employees, according to a Gartner survey.

“Only a minority of employers plan to downsize or ask employees to take unpaid leave,” says Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice. “Instead, most organizations are focusing on measures such as more effective use of technology and freezing new hiring to cut costs.”

Most employers plan to cut costs while minimizing the impact to pay for existing employees when possible. Seventy per cent of employers say that the main cost-cutting measure they plan to use is more effective use of technology. Nearly half of organizations plan to freeze new hiring, found the survey of 800 HR executives on March 17.

Employers are working to balance employee needs with financial realities and are employing a variety of approaches to time-off policies in response to COVID-19, says Gartner. Nearly all organizations (97 per cent) have cancelled work-related travel.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of employers are asking employees to use sick leave first, then vacation leave and finally potential personal time off (PTO) for coronavirus absences. Twenty per cent of organizations increased PTO for individuals who are sick or caring for a sick family member; 18 per cent granted additional PTO for parents who are caring for children whose schools are closed, found the survey.

A greater percentage of employers plan to reduce work for external partners rather than employees, as one-fifth plan to stop or limit consultant spend or reduce the number of contract workers. Only 10 per cent of employers plan to reduce working hours, whereas six per cent report are asking employees to take unpaid leave.

Conversely, the outbreak is hitting small businesses hard, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which found that one-fifth of enterprises planned to reduce staff.

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