Economic crisis forcing changes

As the impact of the global economic crisis takes hold, a quarter of U.S. employers expect to make layoffs in the next 12 months. However, most companies are focusing on smaller cost–saving measures, as well, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt, a global consulting firm.

“Employers are still sorting out the impact of the economic crisis, but changes are clearly in the wind,” said Paul Platten, global practice director of Watson Wyatt’s Human Capital Group. “As they respond to the new environment, companies will have to balance how to control costs, maintain employee morale and prepare for future staffing challenges.”

According to the survey of 248 companies conducted in mid–October, roughly one of four is planning to lay off workers (26%), institute hiring freezes (25%) or raise employee contributions to health care plans (25%).

While some companies also plan other changes—including travel restrictions, restructuring or reductions in training—relatively few expect to freeze salaries, reduce 401(k) matches or freeze or close their pension plans.