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Nearly 40% of Employers Weighing Salary Increase Budget Changes for 2021

Almost 40% of respondents to the “WorldatWork 2020-2021 Salary Budget Update Survey” have made, or are considering making, changes to their projected 2021 salary increase budgets since being initially surveyed in June.

Less than half of that percentage have made or are considering making changes to their actual 2020 salary increase budget. The purpose of the updated survey, which was in the field Oct. 12-31, is to determine what effects the ongoing pandemic is having on actual 2020 salary increase budgets and projected budgets for 2021.

An emailed survey was sent to the 1,895 respondents to the original 2020-2021 Salary Budget Survey with the final data for the updated survey based on 694 responses. The updated survey consists of an executive report and analysis with data highlights for the United States.

“We conducted this special update to help employers keep tabs on the external market during this uncertain economy,” said Sue Holloway, CCP, CECP, director of executive compensation strategy, adding that WorldatWork members will be invited to participate in May for the 48th annual Salary Budget Survey.


Here’s how the numbers from the updated survey break down:

  • 2% of respondents report making changes to their projected 2021 salary increase budget with 19.8% considering making such changes.
  • 3% report making changes to their actual 2020 salary increase budget with 4.1% considering such changes.

The actual 2020 and projected 2021 salary increase budgets showed the same slight 0.1 percentage-point drop since June, from 2.9% to 2.8%. Contributing to those slight declines was an increase in the number of organizations reporting zero or no salary budget increase.

“While pay increases may be restrained, employers are emphasizing other elements of rewards, such as programs that support and recognize front-line workers and serve employees’ well-being,” Holloway said.

“2020 has been a difficult year for compensation planning,” she concluded, “with continued economic uncertainty, we expect 2021 to be challenging as well.”

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Jim Fickess writes and edits for WorldatWork.

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