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Finance professionals least impacted business function by Covid-19

The finance function was the least negatively hit throughout the pandemic – with just seven percent of professionals across the globe reporting having to work reduced hours or take a voluntary salary reduction, according to new research by Robert Walters.

Robert Walters surveyed over 5,500 professionals and 2,200 global companies across 31 countries worldwide.

In contrast to finance professionals, 50% of arts professionals, 36% in marketing & advertising, 28% in hospitality & leisure, and around a quarter in construction, manufacturing & engineering, and education, were submitted to either reduced hours and/or reduced pay this past year as a result of the pandemic.

Just a tenth of companies (13%) across the globe terminated temporary or fixed term contracts with finance professionals during the peak of the pandemic – compared to the global average of 20% for all other fixed-term terminations. The picture was much bleaker for arts, hospitality & leisure – where over half cancelled temporary contracts.

One in three finance professionals has worked longer hours

The survey also shows that during Covid-19 the finance function acted like a support system and lending hand to many departments – with a third of finance professionals stating that they worked most closely with operations, followed by IT (26%), HR & legal (26%), and marketing & sales (21%).

Such was the demand on accounting & finance professionals that 45% reported a significant increase in their productivity during lockdown, however this came at a detriment to work-life balance – with 32% of employees reportedly working longer hours in the past year.

Headcount freezes

Perhaps the biggest, and most expected impact to the finance function this year was the initial pause on headcount – with 40% of companies around the globe temporarily freezing hiring within the finance space. Not surprisingly, the hospitality & leisure and sports industry had the sharpest uptake on headcount freezes within the finance function – with up to 90% of companies not actively hiring finance professionals throughout the pandemic.

Industries that have taken the least amount of action on their finance function to counter any impact from Covid-19 have been banking & financial services, technology, legal, insurance, and the larger accounting firms.

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