Most U.S. Employers Not Planning Economy-Linked Layoff Wave

March 11, 2008 ( - A new Mercer survey finds a third of U.S. employers are putting in place staff freezes or downsizing programs or are considering the move while the rest anticipate no change.

Instead, a Mercer news release says, many employers are keeping their eyes on the goal of finding and retaining key employees. Few employers are slashing compensation budgets or freezing salaries – 16% among the U.S. employers polled, and 9% among their Canadian counterparts.

For the most part, employers are focused on managing aggregate staff costs via headcount management, the Mercer announcement reports. Approximately one in 10 are considering or implementing incentive opportunity or eligibility coverage changes.

Among U.S. employers, 85% indicated that they have made no changes to their 2008 compensation budgets in anticipation of a slower economy. In Canada, the proportion was 91%.

Mercer said the bottom line seems to be that companies are taking action – or preparing to take action – to protect and strengthen their programs and talent.

For example, more than 40% of employers in the United States and Canada indicated they are considering or implementing initiatives such as creating new talent sourcing programs, building pipelines of high-value candidates, retaining high performers, and maintaining historic levels of employee engagement.

Other initiatives, such as optimizing HR efficiency, recalibrating performance targets/policies, and enhancing incentive programs, were also cited by a significant share of the survey respondents.