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COMPANIES that got burned by the recession are understandably being more reticent about announcing pay rise information as circumstances and markets continue to be changeable and we are noticing that companies are not committing to budget figures as far in advance. In the past, the HR department was the one who advised the board on what to pay. Nowadays the board is telling the HR department what is available.

We can't stress too highly the importance of communicating pay and reward strategies to staff in as transparent a manner as possible. Not only does this limit the amount of rumour and speculation flying round the office, but stops creating a disgruntled core of workers who might just decide to jump ship. Poor communication is often the reason jobseekers give us for having had enough of their current employer.

If, as our previous article suggests, employees' expectations have risen and 2011 is regarded as the year to make up for the previous two years (although we're not too sure that's the case by the way), but as the employer you're not planning to be quite so generous, make sure that you get your message across effectively.

One client of ours has recently announced record bonuses based on a great year. With profitable long term contracts having come to an end they are expecting a much more modest year ahead and so have delivered a clear message to their staff that pay rises and bonuses will be equally modest. A case of giving medicine with the sugar instead of sugar with the medicine!

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