HR One met with Ralph Leyssens (Senior Client Partner, Reward Practice, Korn Ferry) to discuss the results of the survey conducted by Korn Ferry, with a focus on the impact of the coronavirus and the initiatives taken by HR Managers.

Can you tell us more about the survey conducted by Korn Ferry from March 18th to 27th?

Our teams survey the HR and/or Compensation & Benefits managers of around 4,000 companies worldwide.

Here are some key findings from the global report, with the percentage of companies that have already put in place or are considering:

• Hazard pay: 21%

• Active leave management (paid): 54%

• Unpaid voluntary leave: 29 %

• Involuntary unpaid leave: 29%

• Delaying new hires: 79%

• Restructuring/organizational change: 34%

• Reduction of overtime: 46%


Moreover, when looking at the results, we see big similarities in regions and sectors, suggesting that – except for country-specific government supported actions and provisions - initiatives and reactions are rather comparable across the world.


Were companies ready to deal with the Covid-19 virus and its impacts on business and on their employees?

I think it is fair to say that NOBODY was ready to deal with this type of pandemic. But more than ever, it is important that they are agile and adapt continuously to the current situation.

Having said that, in Western Europe, 82% of companies participating in this short survey indicate having a Business Continuity Plan in place which they were planning to review and adjust to address the specificity and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic (for 69%) or run as was/is (13%).

In summary, current Business Continuity Plans are being stretched to their limits and companies are pro-actively as well as re-actively adjusting their plans and practices to address the ever-changing situation.


How did they react and what are some of their actions and initiatives?

Some of the actions companies in Western Europe are implementing or considering include:

• Deferring merit increases (43%), salary freeze (34%) & even salary cuts (18%)

• Review and adjustment of bonus and sales incentive plans

• Active (paid) leave management (52%)

• Unpaid involuntary leave (28%)

• Reduction of overtime (50%)

• Temporary lay-offs (often sponsored by State/Government) – (48%)

• Permanent layoffs / redundancies (22%)

• Working from home, social distancing, increased safety measures…


Companies are exploring every available possibility and try to avoid layoffs as much or as long as possible.


What would be your advice for companies to best prepare for unexpected situations, in terms of organizations, collaboration, etc?

This is a difficult since all-encompassing question! Priorities and actions will largely depend on specific company circumstances, what your role and focus is…

From a broad HR & Reward perspective, I would repeat the principles and practical actions we shared in one of our recent webinars for clients.

First, when it comes to principles, companies should ensure their immediate priority is employee wellbeing, more than ever. Their leaders lead by example and must be direct with employees and treat them like adults. HR must be BALANCED when assessing labor cost-reduction alternatives, as it is considered by 22% of Western Europe companies surveyed. Even though we are still in the middle of the crisis, now is the time to prepare for the re-bound ; like any crisis, this is temporary. Keep an eye on what others are doing and learn from each other, but make sure to tailor actions to fit your organization and what is best for you.

As we suggested in many of our webinars, practically companies should consider changes to support labor continuity and deal with business realities, while assessing impact of cost-management opportunities with employee relations risks (including engagement levels…). This is the time to develop multi-pronged approaches. And finally, whatever the actions they decide upon: companies should communicate and implement with care and empathy…  This is a tough time for everyone.


Korn Ferry runs regular surveys, webinars and roundtables on the topic of how to deal with the fall-out of the COVID-19 crisis. The Pulse survey that formed the basis for the above conversation, has just seen its second edition and a round-table discussion on findings will soon be organized. We will keep you informed about practicalities and dates as soon as they are published.

Publié le 04 mai 2020