Experts surprised as many NC businesses still giving raises despite pandemic

RALEIGH, NC. (WTVD) -- A statewide survey of businesses about giving raises during the pandemic showed surprising results.

Not only did a large majority of businesses say they were currently giving raises, but that they plan to continue to do so in 2021.

There's no doubt that 2020 has been a tough year with health, economic, and social justice crises going on at the same time.

So if you are lucky enough to still have a job whether working from home or back in the office, human resources consultant Molly Hegeman knows you probably aren't expecting a raise.

"There's probably less sense from an employee's perspective now about an entitlement for benefits or salary increases like you might have expected in pre-pandemic conditions," she told ABC11.

Hegeman is the chief strategy officer for Capital Associated Industries or CAI.

The Raleigh nonprofit provides management and human relations consulting for 2,300 members statewide representing a diverse array of small and medium-sized businesses.

In its annual compensation poll for 2020, CAI surveyed more than 500 of its members.

"What we expected was probably something more like we saw in 2009, after the Great Recession," Hegeman said, "And that was where most companies really were struggling and needed to look at their salaries and perhaps hold off on giving increases."

Instead, 73% of the companies said they were giving raises in 2020.

And even more, 76%, say they plan to continue to provide pay increases in 2021.

Hegeman and her colleagues were surprised she said, "It was curious. We wondered, why would companies be doing that. We deal with many organizations who have been struggling and we certainly know that's happening across the state and across the country."

She said she believes one of the main reasons some businesses have been able to thrive during the pandemic is the ability of employees to handle big changes such as working from home.

And she figures that's why there are raises being given during the pandemic's economic downturn.

"Just continuing to be able to reward and recognize employees is what employers are putting as a primary goal," Hegeman said.

The survey's results are valuable information for employers Hegeman said, and she added, "Sometimes, you are not maybe financially able to make a decision to pay for salary increases. But understanding what's happening in the marketplace should allow you to prioritize."

And hopefully allow companies to survive until the pandemic ends.
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