22% of businesses offer voluntary unpaid leave to employees

24% of businesses have introduced pay cuts

Just under a quarter (22%) of organisations are currently offering voluntary unpaid leave, with 26% considering introducing this, according to research by Korn Ferry.

Its survey of 121 UK businesses also found that 37% of respondents are reducing overtime hours, while 15% have implemented, or are considering introducing, early retirement programmes.

More than half (53%) of organisations have introduced, or are planning to introduce, salary freezes, while 40% are considering, or have already deferred, pay rises.

Approximately a quarter (24%) of businesses have introduced pay cuts, with an additional 10% considering doing so.

Of the 24% of businesses that have introduced pay cuts, 35% said this will last three to four months, while 33% said their cuts would last five to six months.

Just under half (47%) of businesses have, or are considering, deferring short-term bonuses, while an additional 20% are considering, or have already, introduced the deferral of long-term bonuses.

The survey also found that just over a fifth (22%) are considering, or have introduced temporary periods of unpaid leave without government support, while 51% of employers have used government support to introduce temporary periods of unpaid leave or furloughs payments. Furthermore, 22% have already introduced reduced hours, with an additional 13% implementing this without government support.

The vast majority (94%) of respondents said that employees will continue to work remotely post Covid-19 (Coronavirus), while 50% will focus on being more transparent with employees and an additional 46% will prioritise improving employee engagement.

Three-quarters expect changes to their reward programmes during the next six months to two years, while 41% expect significant changes. More than half (54%) of businesses plan to reinvent their reward strategies, so that these are fit for purpose for the new working world.

Don Lowman, global benefits and reward leader at Korn Ferry, said: “Since we first conducted our first survey in this series in March [2020], we’ve seen a continued increase in the percentage of businesses implementing reductions in pay, benefits and staff.

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“With the uncertain path this pandemic is taking, it’s critical that organisational leaders monitor the situation regularly and adjust plans to meet the evolving situation, while still keeping an eye to longer-term recovery.

“It will take time to adapt to a new way of work, but business leaders must remember that to attract and continue to engage the best talent, they will not only need to have a competitive rewards and benefits programme, but a programme that is valued by employees and is cost-effective.”