Compensation Trends for 2020 and 2021 - Up, Down & Sideways

September 30, 2020
Compensation Planning
Read time: 2 mins

Last week, MRA hosted a members-only event, CompTrends 2020, where we reviewed our highly anticipated Compensation Trends Survey results, a timely topic for many.

Since the pandemic hit, evaluating your organization’s compensation plan is more important than ever. Job responsibilities and work locations have dramatically changed, shaking up many companies’ compensation structures.

During the live hour-long webinar, attendees were given a peek into:

  • The latest trends in compensation
  • How virtual workforce consolidation has impacted total rewards
  • Cost management strategies to apply to total rewards
  • The importance of making compensation and benefits part of the overall employee experience during these challenging times

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the survey uncovered that organizations’ purse strings are a little tight right now. And certain areas of the survey did just that.

But, despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and its impact on business, many employers still gave 2020 merit increases and remain committed to providing additional increases in 2021.

One reason for pay raises during a pandemic is because employee engagement is vital. People are anxious and some industry jobs are plentiful. Making sure employers hang on to their staff with good pay and benefits is key, especially for those working extra hours at home while schooling children and taking care of older family members.

Check out the percentages of organizations that recently gave and are planning to give a pay raise according to the MRA survey:

Raise 1
Raise 2

What’s in a number?
Unless you are brand new to HR, you know that the magic number for the last umpteen years for a pay increase has lingered right at the three percent mark. This latest survey revealed that organizations are expecting their merit increase percentages to be 2.9 percent in the coming 12 months, which is right in the normal range. And who couldn’t use a little more normal right now?

But wait – what about the high performers and high potential employees? Nearly 90 percent of organizations we surveyed reward these employees above and beyond the 2.9 percent. Pay increases for this population came in between four and five percent because employers cannot afford to lose them, and three percent won’t cut it.

Want to read the Compensation Trends Survey in its entirety? Members can find it on their dashboard on the MRA website. Not a member? Click here.

If you have compensation questions, email Mackenzie Button, Compensation Director, at