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July 2023  Volume 21, Number 7        

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How to Compete in Today’s Tight Labor Market

The 2023 labor market continues to tighten, creating challenges and opportunities for employers. Compensation is a key aspect of these dynamics. Mercer’s latest data reveals that pay increases this year are the highest since the 2008 financial crisis.

Average annual merit increases reported by U.S. employers are at 3.8 percent, and total compensation, encompassing all pay raises, has increased by 4.1 percent. Although these figures suggest a general trend, the increases are not uniform across all industries. For example, the life sciences, energy, and services industries lead the pack with more significant raises.

The Rise of Pay Transparency and Corporate Adaptations

Pay transparency has emerged as a critical issue, with new laws prompting more companies to adjust their strategies. Some companies have set precedents with their open salary policies, demonstrating the potential benefits of pay transparency in a competitive labor market.

In response to these changes, many organizations are reshaping their compensation strategies. Rather than just raising salaries, they are aligning compensation with broader business goals, considering factors such as company size, industry benchmarks, and the skill levels of their workforce. This strategic approach aims to offer competitive wages while also ensuring the financial sustainability of the business.

Employee Expectations, Inflation Slowdown, and Future Projections

Understanding and managing employee expectations is another critical aspect of this scenario. For example, Mercer’s research revealed that 83 percent of workers expect a raise in 2023. Companies must carefully evaluate employee expectations in the context of their talents and abilities and the overall economic climate.

The economic climate is an influential factor. The slowing inflation rate is causing fewer organizations to plan base pay raises this year. Payscale, a Seattle-based compensation software firm, found that only 80 percent of organizations plan to give raises in 2023, down from 92 percent in 2022.

Beyond just base pay, employers must also consider other forms of compensation. Health benefits, flexible work arrangements, and professional development opportunities play a substantial role in attracting and retaining talent.

Spotting Signs of a Slowdown and Looking Ahead

Despite these proactive strategies, signs of a potential slowdown are emerging. The average base pay change from October 2022 to March 2023 stood at only 3.4 percent, compared to 4.7 percent from January to September 2022. This suggests that compensation growth may be cooling down alongside the economy.

Looking ahead, the labor market in 2023 calls for a strategic approach to compensation decisions. It is crucial to balance increased employee expectations and business sustainability in an evolving economic climate. As the labor market changes, staying proactive, adaptable, and innovative are essential to maintaining a competitive edge.

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In this issue:

This Just In ... Mitigate Employee Recession Fears and Pandemic Effects by Boosting Employee Wellness

Unlocking Employee Potential with Divorce Coaching Benefits

The Silent Crisis: Rising Mental Health Problems at Work

The IRS Takes on Inflation: Major Changes in HSA and HDHP for 2024

How to Compete in Today’s Tight Labor Market



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