Total Rewards Practices Adapted to a Changed Job Market in 2022

WorldatWork Survey Shows Employers Rely on Market-Based Adjustments and Bonuses

February 28, 2023

Scottsdale, Arizona — Now that compensation practices are starting to return to normal at most organizations, employers are focused on holistic and incremental approaches to modifying their Total Rewards strategy.

 With unemployment remaining low in most U.S. markets, employers are relying on market-based adjustments (not cost-of-living increases) to provide competitive pay--these adjustments have returned to pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, hazard pay is beginning to level back down as working conditions have normalized in many industries. Market-based adjustments differ from cost-of-living increases in that they're driven by employers' perception of the pay required to attract and retain workers and are thus often driven more by employment levels than inflation.

WorldatWork’s “2022 In Review: Total Rewards Inventory of Programs & Practices” report, produced in partnership with UFlexReward, reveals that in 2022, market-based adjustments were offered at 82% of  the U.S.-based organizations we surveyed — the same level as in 2021. This marks a return to normal after a precipitous drop in 2020. Similarly, hazard pay, which peaked in 2020, has returned to pre-pandemic levels at 15%.

The survey of 990 organization of varying sizes and industries also revealed that bonuses of all kinds have grown steadily since the inception of this survey in 2015 (with the exception of 2020), a reflection of their value in enabling businesses to compete for talent in a tight employment market while limiting long-term employee expense.

Sign-on bonuses (88%), spot bonuses (73%) and retention bonuses (67%) all reached the highest level that we’ve seen in this survey in 2022, surpassing even pre-pandemic levels.

Flexibility remains a key feature of the Total Rewards picture. Hybrid work — a fixed schedule alternating between remote and on-site locations — was offered to some or all employees in 91% of organizations surveyed, while 82% of these organizations had employees in fully remote roles.

However, this flexibility in work location has not been matched by increased flexibility in the timing of work. Flextime, long a popular option, is found in 72% of organizations, matching the pre-pandemic average. Shift flexibility, offered at 50% of participating organizations, is also unchanged. At the same time, part-time work schedules at 70% in 2022 remain below the pre-pandemic average of 74%, while compressed workweeks, offered by an average of 41% of organizations in pre-pandemic years, were only found in 32% of organizations in 2022.

Steve Brink, President, uFlexReward said, “one major takeaway for me is that hyper-personalization offerings will grow. Organizations need to better align their holistic total rewards flexibility with employee preferences, whether that is remote work, mix between fixed and variable, trade-offs on various new rewards (student loan repayment) to name a few.”

“This study offers interesting insights into the ways organizations are able to evolve their compensation and HR practices to respond to the changing dynamics of the workforce and economy,” said Liz Supinski, director of research and insights at WorldatWork.

Sample Findings:

  • Frequent performance check-ins, a feature at 59% of organizations, retain their 2021 level, up 10% from their pre-pandemic average.
  • Grants of restricted stock/restricted stock units remain high, offered by 54% of organizations compared to 56% in 2021 and much higher than the 36% for 2015-2020. 
  • Unpaid medical or caregiver leave remains high, offered by 67% of organizations in the study, down slightly from 69% in 2021, but much higher than the 39% reported in 2019.
  • Student loan debt repayment assistance continues to grow, offered by 13% of 2022 respondents (vs. 4% in 2016) while tuition reimbursement shrinks, now offered by 80% of organizations in 2022 (vs. 87% in 2016).


About the Study

WorldatWork invited its broader membership and customer base to participate in an electronic survey on workplace Total Rewards programs and practices. A total of 990 responses were received, representing U.S. organizations of different sizes and across multiple industries. Email invitations were sent directly to participants on Sept. 12, 2022, and results were collected over a 14-day period. Sample sizes vary by question. Respondents who indicated they weren’t sure if a program was offered were removed from individual question sample sizes.

About WorldatWork

WorldatWork is the leading global nonprofit organization for professionals engaged in the critically important practice of total rewards. We serve those who are responsible for cultivating inspired, engaged, productive and committed workers in effective and rewarding workplaces. We guide them in the design and delivery of total rewards programs with our education and certification; idea exchange; thought leadership; knowledge creation; information sharing; research; advocacy; and networking. For more details on WorldatWork, please visit  or follow us on Twitter: @WorldatWork and LinkedIn: @WorldatWork.

About uFlexReward

uFlexReward is the world’s first digital global total reward platform, combining multiple total reward data silos into one real-time ‘always on’ platform. The platform facilitates agile transformation in Reward and HR by quickly providing a continuous, drillable database into any organization’s largest spend – people. Our mission is to help you inspire your employees by giving them the flexibility to personalize their reward package, and to provide you with an integrated global reward system to digitize, consolidate, and review your entire reward ecosystem.

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