Total Rewards COVID-19 Recording: Waste Management's Gordon Blasius 5-21-20

In response to the rapidly developing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp has launched a series of weekly standing calls specific to Total Rewards leadership roles. 

It's fair to say that COVID-19 has upended the plans that every function within a given organization had heading into 2020. During the May 21, 2020 meeting of i4cp’s Total Rewards Action – COVID-19 Coronavirus Response call, total rewards leaders from companies such as McKinstry, Tyson Foods, Microsoft, Waste Management Inc. and many more shared how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their total rewards functions’ 2020 priorities, and what they’re doing to adapt. Some highlights:

  • Heading into 2020, total rewards leaders considered well-being and competitive pay their top priorities. In today’s first instant poll, we asked participants on the call to share what their organizations were focusing most on from a total rewards standpoint entering this year. At 26%, well-being was the most common response, followed by competitive pay (24%) and talent retention and professional development, at 16% apiece.
  • Naturally, COVID-19 has shifted those priorities in meaningful ways. Today’s guest speaker, Gordon Blasius, vice president of compensation and benefits at Waste Management Inc., for example, noted how the organization planned to expand its HR function by 25 employees heading into 2020, but will not likely be able to do so in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and is waiting to see what long-term impacts COVID-19 has on its business before making significant talent decisions. And while well-being is still very much a priority, some organizations have pivoted from focusing primarily on physical and financial well-being to mental and emotional health, given the strain that employees everywhere are feeling during the current crisis.
  • Employers are factoring the possibility of a COVID-19 recurrence into their return-to-work strategies. Many participants in today’s call expressed the need to allow for the potential of a resurgence of the virus as they craft their return-to-the-workplace plans. This aligns with a recent i4cp pulse survey of nearly 400 HR professionals, in which we found 42% of organizations saying they have included contingencies related to a COVID-19 recurrence in their return-to-the-workplace strategies, with another 35% saying its something that will be included as they continue to develop their plan.
  • Total rewards leaders expect the coronavirus pandemic to affect their annual salary planning activity for calendar year 2021, but are waiting to see how before making decisions in this area. With salary planning scheduled to be the focus of i4cp’s May 28, 2020 Total Rewards Leader COVID-19 Response call, we asked today’s participants what impact they anticipate COVID-19 having on their annual salary planning activity for 2021. The majority (58%) said that no decisions have been made yet, and all options are on the table. Another 26% said they will study market movement, and likely follow their industry peers. No respondents said they expect to be market-aggressive in the next salary increase cycle.

In addition to this recording, please see these resources: