Web Exclusive - September/October 2017

U.S. Salary Increases Hold Steady; Non-Cash Awards Can Help


WorldatWork's annual Salary Budget Survey revealed that employers in the United States reported that the average 2017 total salary increase budget is 3 percent, the same as it has been for three years. But despite relatively flat salary increases, non-cash awards can help keep workers happy and engaged.

According to WorldatWork's annual Salary Budget Survey, employers in the United States report that the average 2017 total salary increase budget is 3 percent, the same as it has been for the past three years. Respondents are planning for a slight increase for 2018 salary increase budgets, but only up to 3.1 percent.

"With a tight job market and reported financial gains, we might expect to see more growth in salaries," said Kerry Chou, WorldatWork senior practice leader. "In the United States in particular, there are other factors that might explain this plateau in growth, including the increased use of variable pay or non-cash based rewards, or an overall more conservative pay philosophy. We are also looking closely at the impact several regulatory actions have had on salaries: the rising minimum wage in certain regions and the overtime rule. It's possible that these changes may not have been reported as a salary budget increase in some cases. While the OT rule has been blocked, many organizations had already implemented the changes and chose not to undo them. So, with the continued 3 percent increase of salary budgets and these unreported salary changes, this picture could be brighter for the workforce than it initially appears."

The good news is that it is not difficult to maintain employee engagement and motivation, despite relatively flat salary increase trends. Non-cash awards, including merchandise, incentive travel and gift cards, offer a way to keep employees engaged and providing top-notch performance.