Preliminary results on Business Performance during COVID-19 Survey

The Malta Employers’ Association has conducted an online survey among employers to test business performance in times of COVID-19. The response to the survey consisted of 237 companies in the private sector, with a spread across all economic sectors and size of companies, employing in the region of 40,000 persons.

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The research findings show that 81% of respondent companies have experienced a loss of business due to COVID-19, 3% experienced an increase in business and 16% of respondents claim that COVID-19 is having no effect on their business operations. June-August have been better than March-May for 48% of respondents; 38% of respondents claimed that business remained the same and 16% of respondents claimed that business performance was worse than Jun-Aug 2020.

73% of respondent companies answered that they have foreseen the second wave following the increase in Covid-19 cases after the 20th July, and this has affected many companies (73%) in their business projections for the fourth quarter of 2020. 96% of respondent companies claim that the second wave could have been totally or partially avoided.

Only 19% of respondents declared that they have made redundancies, with 85% of those who have stating that the rate of redundancies has been, so far, less than 25%.

However, in spite of this somewhat positive scenario, only 38% of respondents said that they will not increase redundancies in the coming 3 months (Sept-Nov). 19% replied that redundancies will increase beyond September and 43% said that they are undecided. This is indicative of a high level of uncertainty that prevails in the business environment.

62% of companies surveyed are making use of the wage supplement schemes, 24% have benefitted from the Electricity and Rent Refund Scheme, 19% have benefitted from the teleworking equipment schemes and 11% have made use of bank moratorium.

44% of companies surveyed are envisaging that business will depend on extended government support for 2021, and 22% are still undecided.

In sectors where teleworking is viable, many companies (65%) have introduced or enhanced teleworking arrangements for their employees. 60% of these companies claim that employees have been equally productive and 7% have been more productive than when working from the place of work. Unfortunately, 33% of respondents claimed that teleworking arrangement have not produced positive results as employees have been less productive. 42% of respondent companies envisage keeping teleworking arrangements post-COVID, while 20% are still undecided.

38% of respondent companies are going to be strongly affected if schools do not operate normally in the coming scholastic year.

60% of survey respondents have not yet initiated any investment projects that have been postponed due to COVID-19. Out of this 60%, 11% stated that they will definitely be reactivating their projects within the next 12 months. 23% stated that they will definitely NOT be reactivating their projects within the coming 12 months, while another 36% are still unsure. Another 30% did not answer the question.

Major employment related matters that are affecting business in the current situation include:

- Sense of instability and uncertainty
- Demotivated employees
- Fear of returning to work
- Less cash in hand (struggling to pay salaries)
- Lack of skilled staff (recruitment issues)
- Permits of foreign nationals
- Increase in sick leave
- Quarantine Leave

The survey concludes that the majority of the respondent companies (57%) need more than 12 months to recover.