By Karen Axelton

Is it time to give your employees a raise? While you may not be quite ready to swing out with raises just yet, if you want to compete with big companies for workers, you may need to get prepared. A recent survey of the members of WorldatWork, reported on BNET.com, suggests that salaries are on the rise.

Keep in mind that WorldatWorks’s members are mostly HR professionals at large corporations. Here’s what they said:

  • Salary budgets increased by 2.8 percent in 2011 and are projected to rise by 2.9 percent in 2012.
  • In 2011, the vast majority (88 percent) of employees received salary increases, compared to 80 percent in 2009.
  • In 2009, 43 percent of companies were planning salary freezes, compared to a mere 3 percent in 2011.

While high-performing employees got more of an increase in their base pay in 2011, everyone got something. On average, high performers got a 4 percent raise, “middle” performers got 2.7 percent and even “low” performers received a 0.7 percent average increase. (Apparently, companies feel employees deserve something just for hanging in there during the tough times. The real question is why, with so many people out of work, any company would even keep low performers on board.)

Of course, big companies are sitting on huge cash reserves right now, which makes it much easier for them than for you to dole out raises. Still, if there’s any way you can afford to increase your staff’s base pay, you may need to do so to keep them from jumping ship.