Base salary increases for executives in the U.S. are expected to shrink slightly next year for the second year in a row, according to the recently released findings of the Willis Towers Watson Data Services 2016 Salary Budget Survey. A total of 967 companies in a broad range of industries participated in the survey, which provides data on actual salary budget increase percentages for the past and current year, along with projected increases for the coming year.

Overall, the survey shows that U.S. companies are holding the line on pay raises and incentives at all levels. Given the continued low rates of inflation and the ongoing pressure on profit margins, it’s clear that employers remain cautious when it comes to budgeting salary increases. 

Among the survey findings with regard to executive compensation:

  • Among companies expecting to grant salary increases next year, the average projected increase for executives is 3.1% in 2017, down from the 3.2% budgeted for this year and the 3.3% granted in 2015. (The percentage of companies projecting 0% total base salary increases in 2017 declined to 1.5% of all respondents.)
  • Projected 2017 bonuses/short-term incentives for executives in the participating companies came in at 41% of base salary levels at the median, down from 42% of salary budgeted for 2016 and the 45% of salary actually paid in 2015.
  • Discretionary bonus awards for executives are projected to come in at 11% of salary at the median next year, down from the 15% of salary budgeted for 2016 but up from the 10% of salary actually paid in 2015.

For our recent press release providing more highlights of the survey findings, click here.


Willis Towers Watson Data Services also announced the dates of its fall series of webcasts for companies that participated in the 2016 compensation surveys and those interested in participating going forward. The complimentary webcasts are designed to help companies plan for the coming year by providing highlights from the 2016 surveys and insights on the latest compensation trends in general industry and for key industry sectors.

Here’s the webcast schedule.

  • September 8: Compensation Data Bank (CDB) General Industry Executive Survey — U.S.    Register
  • September 21: General Industry Compensation Survey — Canada    Register 
  • September 22: Financial Services Compensation Surveys— U.S.     Register 
  • October 6: CDB Energy Services Compensation Surveys — U.S.     Register
  • October 13: High Tech Compensation Surveys — North America     Register
  • October 18: Retail/Wholesale Compensation Surveys — North America     Register
  • October 25: Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences Compensation Surveys — North America     Register
  • October 27: CDB Media Compensation Survey — U.S.     Register
  • November 1: Long-Term Incentives Policies and Practices Survey    Register


Marc McBrearty

Marc McBreaty

Willis Towers Watson
White Plains

Laura Sejen

Laura Sejen

Willis Towers Watson
New York

Marc McBrearty is the markets development leader for Willis Towers Watson Data Services in North America and Laura Sejen is a managing director in New York and a leader of Willis Towers Watson’s Talent and Rewards business globally. Email, or