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Covid Marketing Pulse Survey May 2020

Download the survey here

The Professional and The Personal:

New Alternatives Pulse Survey reveals how marketers are managing the joint impacts of Covid-19 and Working from Home

The Alternatives Pulse Survey, carried out amongst 442 marketers, provides a fascinating, real-time glimpse into how the marketing community has been impacted professionally and personally by the coronavirus crisis and how they’re responding to the challenges presented.

Download the survey here

Survey findings: Professional Impact

1/ Impact on employment status, salary and security 

As of 5th May, 70% of respondents have had no change to their employment status to date. 15% have been made redundant or laid off on a short term or permanent basis and 13% are working reduced hours.

Those at early career stage were impacted more than those at more senior levels and were more likely to have been laid off on a temporary basis (26%) than average (11%). 

Hotel and tourism sectors have been the hardest hit to date. 29% are on temporary layoff, and 25% on reduced hours. 29% of professional and business services and 26% of agency respondents are on reduced hours. 

Those working in small companies have been much more impacted. 25% have had their working hours reduced and 7% have been made redundant. Conversely, 87% of marketing community respondents working in larger companies have had no change to their employment status.

Salary impacted due to coronavirus

60% have had no change in salary at this point. One in three have had a salary reduction, most of which of 11% or more.  Some who have not had salary impacted have however had bonuses cut or postponed and several anticipate changes to come.

Respondents from financial services, utilities and government have not recorded any salary reductions. Those in telco, tech and FMCG are also much less impacted than average.

Those working in small companies of 50 or less employees have been much more impacted. 50% vs 31% on average have had their salary reduced, and more than half with cuts of over 20%. By contrast only 17% of those working in large companies have had salary cuts yet.

46% of those at Director level have had salary reductions (vs an average of 31%) and half of those have taken a 20% + cut.

Security in role

Compared to Alternatives annual salary & sentiment survey carried out just 9 months ago, when 71% felt secure or very secure in their role, just 53% feel secure now. Those working in the government, financial services, education, Agri, FMCG and utilities sectors feel most secure.

21% feel insecure, double the level of 9 months ago. Those least secure are from the hotel/tourism, NFP and media/publishing sectors. Those working in small companies feel more insecure too- 28% vs 15% of those in larger companies. Those at early career stage feel the least secure.

2/ Impact on business

The crisis has had a negative or very negative immediate impact on current business performance for 81% of respondents. 12% have seen some positive impact.

Three quarters of respondents anticipate a negative future impact on their organisation. Sectors such as tourism, drinks, professional and business services, logistics, construction, and agencies feel most pessimistic about the future business impact of Coronavirus.

17% see some positive future impact, particularly those in healthcare, e-commerce, and tech.

Coronavirus has completely overtaken Brexit as the key threat for 81%, with Brexit a bigger issue for only 3% now.

3/ Marketing Role focus during crisis

78% of respondents said their role had changed because of the crisis. With such a rapid and unprecedented change, marketers are focusing on the following areas: 

  1. On Covid business response:
    1. Immediate crisis management
    2. Shorter term planning and activities
    3. Longer term strategy
  2. Cash, Revenue & Customer focus
  3. Moving business model online
  4. More comms/Internal comms/digital online
  5. More complex, remote team management 

Businesses also are adapting how they manage and support their employees.

In addition to email, companies have certainly moved online, with virtual meetings (87%) and company online updates (63%), remote team building exercises and events (36%), as well as one to one supports and training.

New employment opportunities

In terms of new job opportunities becoming available, the recruitment market has massively contracted in a matter of weeks. Almost two thirds of companies have put recruitment on hold and over half see less contracting/consulting opportunities. Companies may be open to contracting and consulting solutions before taking on new full-time hires.

Survey findings: Personal Impact

Current living arrangements

46% are living with school going age children or pre-schoolers. 40% are living in households with no children and 14% are living on their own.

4/ Coping overall

Respondents gave on average a score of 7 out of 10, demonstrating the resilience, adaptability and positivity of the community, even under unprecedented conditions.

Working from home in general is working well for people. Only 7% say it doesn’t work either for them or their role.

Difficulties working from home

I miss my colleagues


Difficult managing children and work


Don't have an adequate ‘office area’ at home


Difficult to self-motivate


Difficult managing workload


Difficult managing stress


Don't have the right technology/IT tools


Don't have good enough broadband


My job doesn't lend itself to WFH


It's not difficult


In addition, many voiced concerns for the overall long-term impact on the economy and society. They are worried about how long this crisis will last, and indeed, when it is “over”, what the “new normal” will look like.

When much focus has been about difficulties WFH, almost one in five are worried about having to go back and work from the office, an interesting development.

5/ Keeping motivated and feeling good, for your physical and mental wellbeing

Keeping in contact with family and friends using video calls


Exercising more


Having more food & drink treats


Logging in to more webinars, online learning opportunities


Helping out elderly relatives


Playing online games with extended family and friends


Helping out my elderly neighbours


Involved in community care initiatives


Relative to others how do they keep motivated and well

  • At support (junior) level: Less food and drink treats, more online games and online learning
  • At practitioner level (4-9 years into career): More helping of elderly family, helping of elderly neighbours and more community care, as well as food and drink treats
  • At manager level: More contact with family and friends online, more food and drink treats and more online learning
  • At director/head of level: More exercise, more online contact with family and friends, more helping elderly relatives and neighbours.
In all of this, there are positives in this crisis …

I enjoy not having to commute


I'm happy the environment is benefiting


My lifestyle is less frenetic


I'm exercising more


I have more quality family time


I enjoy spending more time at home


I realise what is important to me now


I feel more connected to nature


Less commuting and a less frenetic pace of life, with more family and home time and more exercise, the resultant upsides for the environment, are key positives for marketing community respondents.

6/ The future

Despite a volatile working environment, with their employment and salaries impacted, marketers are proving resilient and are coping well with the crisis, working from home.

Indeed, there are significant upsides to WFH, and many will want to continue working in a new and balanced way beyond the crisis. Alternatives believes that the desire for these positives to continue will undoubtedly shape employee expectations going forward. The proven ability and coping mechanisms to work from home will drive demand to do so.

Yet the home will not replace the office. The human need to connect outside the home as well as within is strong. Not every role nor every person is suited to home working. However, a new working mix that provides a new balance is likely to attract, motivate and retain the best.  

New ways of working are also likely to be embraced, with companies likely to be more open not only to new ways of working, but also to flexible access to talent.

Companies who respond will attract, motivate and retain the best. New ways of working are also likely to be embraced, with companies likely to be more open to accessing talent flexibly, to achieve rapidly changing objectives.

Companies will need the core skills of marketers- their customer insight and focus, their strategic planning capability, their communications and digital capabilities, amongst others- to drive this change and future growth. Above all they will need the resilience and ability of marketers, to cope, to adapt, to lead and to perform as evidenced in this Pulse Survey.

Alternatives will be working hard to help businesses access this great talent and to provide flexible working opportunities, to help the community drive growth in business and develop personal careers.

Please contact the team at for any guidance during this Covid crisis. 

Survey note:

The Alternatives Marketing at Work Pulse Survey was carried out from 27th April - 5th May 2020, to explore how the current pandemic is impacting the marketing community professionally and personally. It was completed by 442 marketing professionals, from junior to director level, across 20+ sectors, working in large and small companies.