Although the economy still is in rough shape, things seem to be looking up for many companies and organizations. A new Watson Wyatt survey finds that many employers that made deep pay and benefits cuts this year due to the recession may soon be ready to reinstate those programs.

In the next six months, 62% of employers that made hiring freezes and 69% that froze salaries plan to reverse them, WW finds. In addition, 48% plan to reinstate matches to their 401(k)/403(b) plan in the same amount of time. And, in a move that can only help the economy, 78% of companies who plan to reverse a salary freeze for all employees will restore the salaries to the original levels.

“While more employers now feel the worst of the current downturn may be behind them, most are not expecting to go back to ‘business as usual,’” says Laura Sejen, global director of strategic rewards consulting at Watson Wyatt. “The challenge for companies will be to determine which cost-cutting changes can be reversed and which will become ingrained into the permanent business environment.”

With the outlook getting a teensy bit rosier, employers now seem to be turning their attention to attracting and keeping skilled, quality workers. Laurie Bienstock, the U.S. strategic rewards leader at Watson Wyatt says: “The challenge for employers is to reassess short-term cost cuts and ensure they have the right workforce and resources in place to meet the organization’s long-term financial goals.” 

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