Tuesday, December 30, 2008

News You Can Use: Recession to affect workers more deeply

The ongoing recession already has affected employees, as the number of employers implementing layoffs and hiring and salary freezes has risen sharply in the last two months, according to a new survey from Watson Wyatt, and the cuts likely will continue into next year, the consulting firm finds.

Watson Wyatt reports that 23% of employers plan to make layoffs in the next 12 months, and an additional 18% are planning a hiring freeze over the same period.

“As the economic downturn has both broadened and deepened, companies in almost every industry can no longer stay the course,” says Laura Sejen, global director of strategic rewards consulting at Watson Wyatt. “The need to contain costs has resulted in stronger measures that are ultimately affecting more workers.”

Among the other cost-cutting measures employers have planned over the next 12 months to survive the recession:
* Organization-wide restructuring 21%
* Eliminate/reduce training 18%
* Raise employee contribution to health care premiums 17%
* HR function restructuring 21%
* Salary freeze 19%
* Reduce/eliminate other employee programs 12%
* Salary reductions 6%
* Reduce employer 401(k)/403(b) match 7%

Findings show that almost two-thirds of companies have already taken five or more of the actions above.

“All indications are that 2009 will be a difficult year for both companies and ultimately employees,” said Sejen. “It will be up to employers to find an effective way to manage this challenge by balancing their financial situations with the likely impact on employee engagement.”

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