As COVID-19 creates uncertainty in the financial markets, UBS pursued a follow up study, UBS Participant Voice: Critical Advice, to determine how participant perception of value changes in times of crisis. UBS surveyed 319 plan participants in May to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their view of equity awards.
The follow-on study finds that while perception of equity award value has seen a minor decline during the pandemic (34% of participants assign a high value to their equity awards after the onset of COVID-19, compared to 42% before), long-term optimism remains strong. Three-quarters of respondents report feeling optimistic about the future of both their company (75%) and their industry (75%).
Participants say that in times of crisis they need communication and more guidance. Ninety-three percent (93%) say that communication is very effective at helping them understand how COVID-19 impacts equity compensation. Eighty-six percent (86%) desire more guidance. This is true regardless of age, gender, or assets.
Plan sponsors should note the impact uncertainty can have on perceived value and take steps to ensure consistent, proactive, and well-planned communication is a priority. In addition, employers can assess which additional resources can provide the increased guidance that employees seek.
Companies expend a multitude of resources in designing, implementing, and maintaining their equity plans. It is critical to understand how these efforts translate to the value employees attribute to their awards. The findings in UBS’ participant studies provide important insights into participant attitudes along with a roadmap of actions companies can take to increase perceived value.
View the full reports for UBS’s participant studies.
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