Smaller salary hikes on the horizon

The silver lining? Savvy employers are focusing on increased benefits

Smaller salary hikes on the horizon

Atlantic Canadians can expect a smaller salary increase next year. This is according to a national HR Trends survey conducted by Morneau Shepell. Survey results reveal that salaries are expected to increase by 2.5 per cent in 2016 across Canada, slightly lower than the predicted 2.8 per cent increase for 2015. Naturally, this estimate does vary by industry and province. However, all Atlantic Canadian provinces are on par with the national average.

Receiving a smaller raise may not be exactly what employees are hoping for next year. On the positive side, Morneau Shepell’s report also reveals that Atlantic Canadian employers are committed to improving health and engagement, learning and development programs, and employee mental health in the workplace.

The report notes that a whopping “73 per cent of Atlantic Canadian employers said they wanted to invest in programs that improve employee health.” Stress is one factor that significantly impacts health and can affect organizations in many ways (higher turnover, increased absenteeism, and additional healthcare claims). Ultimately, this negatively affects organizational costs and productivity. Thus, in uncertain economic times, employers are choosing to invest in programs that address these areas. As a first step, Morneau Shepell recommends using a holistic approach to measure employee health, and a strategic way of analyzing data to make decisions.

Other priorities for employers in 2016, as revealed by the Morneau Shepell survey, were reducing costs related to disability claims, absenteeism, healthcare plans, and retirement plans. How will this be accomplished? There’s no indication that employees should expect to see drastic cuts to their benefits. Rather, employers plan to focus on current benefit plans and find ways to cut costs through increased efficiency.

For instance, Morneau Shepell found that employers plan to review their investment strategies and plan designs to lower the risk of retirement plans. “Reducing short-term disability costs will also be a priority for 2016.” Specifically, mental health claims are causing employers some difficulty, thus improving mental health is a significant concern over the next year. Finally, employers plan to use available technology and streamline current processes to address concerns with absenteeism and healthcare costs.

Lower wage increases? Certainly not ideal. However, focusing on the benefits, employers seem to be.

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