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Press Release

Four-in-ten employers plan to boost pay budgets for staff, in the face of inflation

May 26, 2022

Wages are failing to keep up with the pace of rising prices, despite job vacancies outpacing unemployment.
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LONDON, May 26, 2022 – As inflation impacts the cost of living, four-in-ten employers are planning to boost pay budgets for staff, according to a survey by WTW (Willis Towers Watson, NASDAQ: WTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company.)

Recent ONS data revealed that wages are failing to keep pace with rising prices, despite job vacancies outpacing unemployment. The average wage (excluding bonuses) has grown by 4.2%, but when counteracted by the impact of inflation, growth in pay fell, in real terms, by 1.2%.

In response to the current inflationary environment, WTW research found organisations are most likely to support their staff by reviewing pay more frequently than the usual annual review (14%), as well as promoting the use of existing benefits (13%) (such as childcare vouchers and healthcare and insurance cover discounts) and offering employees financial wellbeing support (13%). In total, almost a third (31%) of employers’ plan to take some measures to help employees deal with the challenges of rising inflation.

Yet, despite rising inflation, employers are still willing to pay to secure employees with in-demand skills, as almost a quarter of organisations (24%) focus pay budgets on ‘hot-skilled’ workers. In addition, one-in-five organisations (19%) are prioritising increasing pay for those on lower salaries, in response to rising inflation.

WTW speculates that the impact of low wage growth is likely to be felt most acutely by middle earners, signalling that the issue of inflation will not be resolved with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ response.

Alasdair Wood, pay expert at WTW says: “While many companies took a ‘wait and see’ approach in the first few months of the year as inflation was expected to be short-lived, we are now seeing an uptick in activity focused on alleviating pressure on the lowest paid in particular. 

“Examples include increasing pay budgets, accelerating pay rises and access to earned pay, one-off adjustments and expanded use of recognition awards.  We expect that these actions will become more common and will start to make a greater difference in the second half of the year.  If inflation stays high, we also expect higher pay budgets as we head into year end and at the start of 2023.”

We expect that these actions will become more common and will start to make a greater difference in the second half of the year.”

Alasdair Wood | pay expert, WTW

About the survey

WTW surveyed 573 large and midsize employers across Europe as part of its 2022 European Spring Reward Conference, held on 18th May 2022.

About WTW

At WTW (NASDAQ: WTW), we provide data-driven, insight-led solutions in the areas of people, risk and capital. Leveraging the global view and local expertise of our colleagues serving 140 countries and markets, we help organizations sharpen their strategy, enhance organizational resilience, motivate their workforce and maximize performance.

Working shoulder to shoulder with our clients, we uncover opportunities for sustainable success—and provide perspective that moves you.

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