It’s the kind of feel-good story that is now emerging fairly often in the time of COVID-19: A large majority of companies are lending a helping hand to their hourly employees.

In a Gartner survey of 200 CFOs conducted on March 17, 81% of the respondents said they intend to offer benefits to their hourly workers that exceed any contractual obligations during the coronavirus disruption. And a third (33%) intend to offer full monetary compensation during the period.

“Many view this as a good ethical gesture, and it’s also about seeing the bigger picture and finding creative ways to ensure business continuity in times of crisis,” said Dennis Gannon, vice president of advisory for Gartner’s finance practice. “Not only do companies want to emerge from the crisis with an experienced and engaged workforce, but they also want to mitigate the risks of employee fraud and misconduct that rise significantly during times of uncertainty.”

In addition to the 33% of respondents who said they intend to offer full monetary compensation to hourly workers, 13% intend to extend partial monetary compensation; 14% plan to offer a mix of non-monetary and partial monetary benefits; 22% expect to offer non-monetary benefits only.

More specifically, CFOs reported intentions to do the following to support employees:

  • Expanding work-from-home and sick policies, and adjusting work schedules and non-illness-related flexibilities (such as for childcare needs) to ensure tasks and projects get completed
  • Tracking state benefits for hourly workers
  • Considering offering childcare for employees who have to continue coming to work
  • Offering remote working equipment such as modems and routers if needed
  • Allowing employees to donate sick leave to one another

CFOs are beginning to shift their attention from crisis mode toward minimizing the downside impact of COVID-19, Gartner reports. Most CFOs (51%) have not yet adjusted internal targets, even though there is little chance they will be met this year.

“There’s no good way for most CFOs to reset targets with any certainty,” Gannon said. “Instead, many CFOs are assuming that targets won’t be met and are taking steps to ensure ongoing working cash flow to support operations, such as securing access to credit and planning for possible repatriation scenarios.”

In terms of managing the finance function, CFOs were broadly optimistic, with 90% reporting that only a minimal amount of accounting close procedures cannot be executed off-premises. CFOs are most focused on critical third parties, and how to collaborate with them to adapt working processes to function well during the coronavirus disruption.

For example, many CFOs have used the crisis as an opportunity to transition toward automated clearing house (ACH) payments instead of writing checks. They’ve also shifted toward video conferencing options for auditing physical inventories.

“Now is the time to deepen collaboration with vendors, auditors, and customers,” says Gannon. “Take advantage of relevant solutions that have been put off in the past.”

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