Insights

Update 2021 salary forecast survey - Optimism despite the ongoing challenges

Analysis
Published on: January 18, 2021
Subjects:  Surveys and forecasts, Total compensation

Over the month of December 2020, PCI-Perrault Consulting (PCI) updated some sections of its 2021 Salary Forecast Report. This pandemic year-end update allowed us to confirm organizations’ intentions regarding their 2021 salary increase budgets, but also to get a better understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic impacts on their variable compensation plans.

The updated report presents data from 140 organizations in various sectors with a broad range of income. All participating organizations operate in Quebec and 38% of them also have operations elsewhere in Canada.

Optimism despite the ongoing challenges

Among the organizations PCI surveyed, only 4% plan to freeze salaries, both across Québec and Canada. Prior to this update, the intentions were 7% in Québec and 5% in Canada.

  • Among the organizations having additional discretionary salary budget in order to recognize special cases, the only noticeable change concerns organizations with revenues greater than $ 1 billion which have significantly reduced their budget.
  • The optimism of surveyed organizations can also be seen in the budgeted salary structure adjustments. 16% of organizations in Quebec and 13% of organizations in the rest of Canada plan to freeze their salary structure, compared to 25% and 21% in the fall survey.
  • 28% of surveyed organizations confirmed having made changes to their variable compensation program due to the pandemic.
  • While the changes increased the bonus paid in 31% of cases, they also had the opposite effect in 17% of cases.

Salary adjustments for non-unionized employees

Pay increase budgets (excluding freezes) projected for 2021 are 2.5% for 2021 in both Québec and Canada.

In 2021, 4% of organizations plan to freeze employee salaries.

Average salary increase budgets (excluding freezes) are as follows:      

Region 

Nb Org. 

% org. Freeze 

Projected 2021 

P25 

P50 

P75 

Average 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Québec 

138 

4% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

2.9% 

2.5% 

Rest of Canada 

53 

4% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

2.7% 

2.3% 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian Revenues 

Nb Org. 

% org. Freeze 

Projected 2021 

(or annual operating budget) 

P25 

P50 

P75 

Average 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Less than $50M 

67 

7% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

3.0% 

2.5% 

$50M to less than $100M 

20 

0% 

2.1% 

2.5% 

2.7% 

2.5% 

$100M to less than $500M 

24 

4% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

2.5% 

2.2% 

$500M to less than $1B 

9 

0% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

3.0% 

2.5% 

1$B to less than $2B 

18 

0% 

2.4% 

2.5% 

2.8% 

2.5% 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Industry Sector 

Nb Org. 

% org. Freeze 

Projected 2021 

P25 

P50 

P75 

Average 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agriculture, farming / Agrifood industry 

9 

0% 

2.5% 

2.5% 

2.8% 

2.6% 

Associations and Professional orders / Foundations 

8 

13% 

2.5% 

2.5% 

2.5% 

2.6% 

Culture and leisure / Lodging & Restaurants 

7 

0% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

2.5% 

2.3% 

Distribution / Retail and wholesale 

9 

0% 

1.5% 

2.5% 

2.5% 

2.1% 

Energy / Materials / Mining / Natural Resources 

8 

0% 

2.5% 

2.6% 

2.7% 

2.7% 

Industrial Products / Construction / Manufacturing 

30 

0% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

2.2% 

Finance and Insurance / Real Estate 

15 

0% 

2.2% 

2.5% 

3.0% 

2.6% 

Local Governments / Public and Parapublic Services / University / Research 

10 

10% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

2.8% 

2.4% 

Information Technologies / Telecommunications / Medias / Communications 

12 

17% 

2.5% 

2.9% 

3.0% 

2.7% 

Health / Pharmaceutical 

9 

0% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

3.0% 

2.5% 

Professional, Scientific, Technical, Administrative and Management Services / Business Services 

13 

15% 

1.8% 

2.5% 

3.3% 

2.5% 

Transportation, logistics and warehousing 

8 

0% 

2.0% 

2.3% 

2.9% 

2.6% 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Salary structure adjustments

In 2021, 16% of organizations in Quebec and 13% of organizations in the rest of Canada plan to freeze their structure.

Region 

Nb Org. 

% org. Freeze 

Projected 2021 

P25 

P50 

P75 

Average 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Québec 

111

16% 

1.8% 

2.0% 

2.3% 

2.0% 

Rest of Canada 

45

13% 

1.5% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian Revenues 

Nb Org. 

% org. Freeze 

Projected 2021 

(or annual operating budget) 

P25 

P50 

P75 

Average 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Less than $50M 

49

16% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

2.3% 

$50M to less than $100M 

16

13% 

1.6% 

2.0% 

2.4% 

1.9% 

$100M to less than $500M 

20

15% 

1.5% 

1.8% 

2.0% 

1.8% 

$500M to less than $1B 

9 

22% 

1.8% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

1.9% 

1$B to less than $2B 

17 

18% 

1.8% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

1.8% 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Industry Sector 

Nb Org. 

% org. Freeze 

Projected 2021 

P25 

P50 

P75 

Average 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agriculture, farming / Agrifood industry 

97

0% 

1.9% 

2.0% 

2.3% 

2.1% 

Associations and Professional orders / Foundations 

8 

13% 

2.0% 

2.5% 

2.5% 

2.2% 

Culture and leisure / Lodging & Restaurants 

6

0% 

1.9% 

2.3% 

2.5% 

2.2% 

Distribution / Retail and wholesale 

96

17% 

1.5% 

1.5% 

1.8% 

1.8% 

Energy / Materials / Mining / Natural Resources 

87

14% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

2.4% 

2.0% 

Industrial Products / Construction / Manufacturing 

23

17% 

1.5% 

2.0% 

2.2% 

2.0% 

Finance and Insurance / Real Estate 

13

8% 

1.9% 

2.0% 

2.1% 

2.2% 

Local Governments / Public and Parapublic Services / University / Research 

9

22% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

2.3% 

2.1% 

Information Technologies / Telecommunications / Medias / Communications 

11

27% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

2.1% 

2.2% 

Health / Pharmaceutical 

7

14% 

1.5% 

1.9% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

Professional, Scientific, Technical, Administrative and Management Services / Business Services 

9 

33% 

1.6% 

2.0% 

2.0% 

2.1% 

Transportation, logistics and warehousing 

5

20% 

1.5% 

1.8% 

2.0% 

1.7% 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

45% of surveyed organizations have an additional budget for rewarding non‑unionized employees in particular cases (employees with high potential, employees who show exponential growth, employees in jobs with a shortage of workers, etc.). The additional projected budget for these organizations for 2021 is 1.7%.
Additional salary increases budget

The total salary increases budget (annual budget + additional budget) for 2021 among organizations having an additional budget is expected to be 4.3% on average.

Variable compensation plan

Most organizations that responded to our survey (78%) have a variable compensation plan. 39% of them made changes to their plan in 2020 because of the pandemic. Changes had the following impact on the bonus target:

Level of payment

% of org.

Above the target

31%

On or near target

52%

Below the target

17%

The nature of the changes made to the programs varies widely:

Among the same organizations, the level of payment for the year 2020 is in line with fall survey results. Including the changes to the program the level of payments were:

Level of payment

% of org.

No bonus

16%

Below target

24%

On or near target

50%

Above target

10%

If you have any questions about our report, contact:

Evelyne Gaudreau, Consultant

514-788-4747, ext. 227

egaudreau@perraultconseil.com

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