Survey: Pandemic impacts on benefit programs: Multinational perspectives


Despite facing unprecedented challenges and rapidly shifting business priorities due to COVID-19, many multinational HQs are taking steps to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees around the world.

Willis Towers Watson’s benefits survey, which fielded April 20 to May 1 2020, examined real-time impacts of the pandemic on employer-sponsored benefit and wellbeing programmes. The findings reveal that most HQs are prioritising programme enhancements over benefit reductions. Top priorities include improving mental health services, promoting existing programmes and supporting financial wellbeing.

Key findings

  • Employers’ top benefit priorities over the next six months include: enhancing mental health services; promoting the value of existing programmes; supporting financial wellbeing; ensuring business continuity of benefit programmes; and addressing benefits for employees on leave and furlough.
  • 72% of employers are actively promoting healthy weight, nutrition and physical activity for work-from-home employees.
  • Nearly half are measuring signs of financial stress, and two-thirds have raised awareness of emergency financial assistance resources.
  • Over two-thirds (68%) have increased access to mental health services, and more than half have already revised or are considering revising their health care strategy for 2021.
  • 39% of HQs issued a common company policy or minimum standards for sick leave across countries, which extend to almost all hourly paid employees.
  • Nearly one-third of multinational employers are looking to add flexibility to paid-time-off/vacation programmes to prevent lost days at year’s end due to the build-up of surplus hours during the pandemic.

These research findings are based on responses from more than 100 multinational organisations with headquarters (HQs) in the U.S. and U.K., representing 3.2 million employees globally.