Employers Refocusing on Recruiting and Retaining Talent

May 12, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - With the employment outlook improving, employers are focusing their compensation programs on hiring and retaining top talent, according to a survey by Buck Consultants, A Xerox Company.

Buck’s study, “Reviving and Inspiring the Workforce: 2011 Compensation Trends Survey,” found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of organizations report using hiring bonuses and 41% use or expect to implement retention bonuses.    

For those employees participating in a bonus program, the study found that eight out of every 10 employees can expect to receive a payout in 2011. Forty-four percent of employers who responded to the survey expect to pay bonuses that are at least 5% larger than last year.   

Survey respondents also reported using the following strategies to engage their workforces: 

  • New career development opportunities (41%); 
  • Market pay adjustments (30%); 
  • Larger base pay increases (24%); and 
  • More non-cash recognition (18%). 


The survey also found an increase in the use of employee referral bonuses in the past six months, to 66%, up from 59% in mid-2010.   

“During the economic downturn, many employers reduced staff and asked remaining employees to do more with less. As the job market improves, these organizations are using tactics such as employee referral bonus programs to not only attract proven performers, but also help retain the employees who make referrals,” said Kathi Myers, director at Buck Consultants, in a press release.

Pay Freezes Thawing  

As employers become more confident in the improving economic environment, pay freezes are thawing and median pay increases are expected to rise, according to Buck Consultant’s study, “Reviving and Inspiring the Workforce: 2011 Compensation Trends Survey.” The survey found an expected rises in pay increases to 3% this year – similar to levels seen immediately prior to the recession, and up from 2.7% in mid-2010 and 2.2% at the beginning of 2010.   

Only 9% of employers still have pay freezes in place, down from 48% in mid-2010 and 64% at the start of 2010.   

Three-quarters (75%) of respondents report taking no special actions such as furloughs, layoffs, hiring freezes or bonus suspensions in the last 18 months to control or reduce labor costs. Instead, dollars are now being approved and invested in programs that will produce the best return – the attraction and retention of key talent, a press release said.  

The survey report can be ordered online at http://www.bucksurveys.com.