Compensation Planning

2018 Pay Budget Increases Remain Flat—with Notable Exceptions

A new Mercer survey has found that pay budget increases  remain about the same as last year—at 2.8%.  However, according to a press release on the findings of its 2017/2018 US Compensation Planning Survey, base pay for certain jobs with in-demand skillsets is advancing at a far greater pace, Mercer has found.

“While companies are holding the line on increases to fixed compensation, they are getting much smarter about how they distribute those budgets, focusing on in-demand skills and jobs emerging from new ways of doing business,” said Mary Ann Sardone, Partner and Mercer’s North America Workforce Rewards Practice Leader in the press release. “Clearly, jobs that represent critical skills aligned with company growth are being prioritized when it comes to pay.”

Among these jobs are the following (with base pay salary changes):

  • Social Media Communications Professional – 5.8%
  • Senior Engineering Technologist—5.4%
  • Product Brand/Marketing Supervisor—4.8%
  • Public Relations Professional (Entry Level)—4.7%
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Manager—4.6%
  • Web Applications Developer (Entry Level)—4.5%

The Significant Role of Performance

Mercer says that employee performance is playing a substantial role in raises this year, reporting that highest-performing employees are receiving base pay increases averaging 4.5%, nearly twice that of average performers (who account for about 55% of the workforce) of 2.6% and four times that of the second lowest performers, who are receiving raises of 1.0% on average.

“Bottom line, employees who perform below expectations can expect little increase in pay – it’s the reality of pay for performance adopted by most companies today,” said Sardone.

Mercer also reports that although budgets are flat, employers often look to promotions as a way to advance employee pay and retain critical talent.  Mercer reported the typical promotional increase for professionals ranges from 7%-12%.

For more information about the survey, visit