Market Overview

New Mercer Survey Finds: Employers Not Budging on Budgets, Salary Increases Remain Flat


Organizations look to alternative ways to invest in their current and
future workforce

Organizations are holding the line on pay raises for US employees.
According to Mercer's 2018/2019
US Compensation Planning Survey
, salary increase budgets
for 2018 are 2.8% – no change from 2017 – and projected to be only 2.9%
in 2019, despite noticeable factors like the tightening labor market and
a high rate of workers voluntarily quitting their jobs. According to
Mercer's 2018
Global Talent Trends Study
, a majority of organizations are
expressing concerns about attraction and retention. Fair and competitive
pay is cited as the number one priority for employees. Even so, this new
study shows organizations are not budging on budgets.

"Unemployment is falling. Job openings are increasing. Employees are
gaining confidence in the labor market. Yet, companies are still not
investing in base salary, even though it's the reward employees value
the most," said Mary Ann Sardone, Partner and Mercer's North America
Rewards Practice Leader. "By continuing to hold the line on salary
increase budgets, they risk losing their top performers to competitors
who are spending more dollars to attract key talent because it's easier
to justify. It's an investment issue that companies should reconsider as
they look toward building their workforce for the future."

According to Mercer's recent survey, even the windfall of newly
available investment dollars from December's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
(TCJA) is not enhancing the compensation spend for most companies.
Mercer's survey finds that only 4% of organizations have redirected some
of their anticipated tax savings to their salary increase budgets.
Moreover, just more than half of this small group of organizations (53%)
plans to increase their budget by less than 1% of payroll.

"While employers initially responded to the tax rate drop with one-time
spot bonus awards and some proactive minimum wage increases, little of
this money is being invested in the annual pay increase," said Ms.
Sardone. "As the market continues in the same trajectory, those
employers that focus on the budget needed for their strategic workforce
plan rather than just following the pack will stand out. In today's
labor market where employees have choices and competitors are offering a
premium for new hires, employers may need to up their game to retain
their top talent."

Alternative ways to invest in talent
With budgets for base
compensation increases flat, programs beyond contractual rewards
(compensation and benefits) can help enhance the employee experience.
These programs, which arm the organization with a differentiated and
unique value
, are becoming another way to effectively compete for
talent in the future of work. By supporting career development and
training as well as assistance for financial, physical, and emotional
wellbeing, organizations can advance employees' careers in meaningful
ways, offer a greater sense of purpose, and provide a more compelling
work experience overall.

"Although the full value proposition is on the table for investments,
employers should proceed with caution," said Ms. Sardone. "Compensation
is still the top priority for employees. If you get it right, the other
programs can be great differentiators. If you get it wrong, the rest may
not matter."

Mercer's 2018/2019
US Compensation Planning Survey
, which is the largest
survey of its kind and has been conducted annually for more than 25
years, includes responses from more than 1,500 mid-size and large
employers across the US. The survey results capture seven employee
segments: executive, management, professional (sales), professional
(non-sales), office/clerical/ technical, trades/production/service, and
unionized employees across multiple industries.

To purchase Mercer's survey, visit
or call 800 333 3070.

About Mercer
delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations
meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce.
Mercer's more than 23,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the
firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary
of Marsh
& McLennan Companies
(NYSE:MMC), the leading global
professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people.
With nearly 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, Marsh
& McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex
environment. Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh,which
advises individual and commercial clients of all sizes on insurance
broking and innovative risk management solutions; Guy
, which develops advanced risk, reinsurance and capital
strategies that help clients grow profitably and pursue emerging
opportunities; and Oliver
, which serves as a critical strategic, economic and brand
advisor to private sector and governmental clients. For more
information, visit
Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.

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