CFOs Prioritize Workplace Safety And Employee Health

As states start to lift COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, survey reveals CFOs expect changes in measures to address workplace safety and employee health. 

More than three-quarters (77%) of U.S. chief financial officers (CFOs) anticipate changing workplace safety measures upon returning to on-site work, according to the fourth release of PwC’s COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey. As employers focus on protecting employees, 65% anticipate reconfiguring work sites to promote physical distancing and 52% anticipate changing and/or alternating shifts to reduce exposure. In addition, half of survey respondents expect a higher demand for employee protection.

workplace safetyAs states start to lift stay-at-home orders and reopen local economies, 52% of CFO respondents said their businesses could return to normal in less than three months if COVID-19 were to end immediately. Increasingly, business leaders are considering layoffs as they look to contain costs in the face of an ongoing pandemic. According to the survey, 32% of CFOs are now anticipating layoffs, up 6 points from two weeks ago, and more than half (53%) said they are projecting revenue/profit losses to be greater than 10% this year.

“As some states look to reopen, business leaders are recognizing they not only play a crucial role in the health, safety, and stability of their employees, but also that of their communities,” said Tim Ryan, PwC’s US Chair and Senior Partner. “As we continue to navigate this crisis, I’m encouraged to see that despite difficult decisions and potential profit losses, business leaders are continuing to do what they can to put their people first and, in turn, help support local communities and economies as the nation looks to rebound.”

New insight from survey data shows that less than a quarter of respondents (22%) indicate they plan to implement contact tracing as part of their plan to reopen their workplaces and around half (49%) anticipate making remote work a permanent option for roles that can accommodate it.

“While business leaders begin to forge strategies to bring employees back into the workplace and to engage with their customers in person, they are realizing that the physical workplace and customer experience will be drastically different from before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Amity Millhiser, PwC’s Chief Clients Officer. “Many of them are turning to new technologies and digital solutions to help them adapt and maintain social distancing, which will likely be a new normal for the foreseeable future.”

As businesses move toward a return to the workplace, PwC has created Check-In with Automatic Contact Tracing — a tool that allows companies to help quickly identify and alert employees who may have come into contact with a co-worker at the workplace who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Additional Survey Results: Top Concerns

Of the 305 U.S. CFOs and finance leaders PwC surveyed between April 20-22, 2020, 71% indicated that financial impacts remain a top concern. Other concerns included:


  • 80% of respondents expect that COVID-19 will decrease their company’s revenue and/or profits this year.
  • 12% of respondents report that COVID-19’s impact on revenue and/or profits is still too difficult to assess at present.
  • 5% of respondents expect a decrease in revenues of over 50%.

Financial Actions

  • 86% are considering implementing cost containment (up 4 percentage points).
  • 70% are considering deferring or canceling planned investments. Of these respondents, 80% are considering delaying or canceling facilities/general CapEx, 62% considering Workforce and 48% considering IT.
  • 40% of CFOs are indicating no change to their strategies (up 6 percentage points) while 15% indicated an increased appetite for M&A.
  • 91% plan to include a discussion of COVID-19 in upcoming external reporting.
  • 50% plan to include discussion around COVID-19 in financial statements.

Supply Chains

  • 56% are planning to develop additional, alternate sourcing options for their supply chains.
  • 54% are planning to understand the financial and operational health of their suppliers.

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