i4cp polled over 500 companies, revealing that 78% of companies tie pay to performance, with most of the focus directly on solid performers. In large companies with 10,000 or more employees, 84% tie pay to performance.
More than half of the companies surveyed (54%) don’t offer merit raises of any kind to low performing employees. However, merit raises for average and high performing employees varied only slightly. Average performers generally received raises between 3% and 4%, while high performers received between 4% and 5%.
The survey also found that companies are keeping a close eye on the accuracy of their pay-for-performance programs. The majority of companies (71%) said senior management is holding managers accountable for their rating accuracy. To ensure that accuracy, 73% of companies offer training for managers and supervisors who determine employee performance rates.
"Companies are becoming more willing to withhold merit raises for poor performers, but in general they are still not truly distinguishing the top performers from the average," says i4cp research analyst David Wentworth. "This could be due to a fear of creating a perception of unfairness when they are trying to find the fine line between the good and the very good. In this economy, where reductions in force are the norm, companies are really focused on how they treat the surviving employees."
Performance rewards most often come in the form of cash, with 69% of respondents providing a salary increase (74% of large organizations). Another 64% of companies (72% of large companies) offer a one-time cash bonus as a performance reward.
A smaller number of large companies (24%) and only 14% of all companies use stock options. The least popular rewards come in the form of non-monetary perks, with just 14% of companies using non-cash rewards.
The recession has forced pay-for-performance systems to the top of priority lists for many companies. The study found that 44% of companies cite the economy as the main reason for giving their merit-based programs higher priority.
Read more about the i4cp study. Visit the Performance Management section of the HR Library for more information on evaluating and rewarding employee performance.