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Reward professionals optimistic about their business's future but still feel under pressure to cut costs

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Reward professionals are more confident about the coming year as the economy officially emerges from an 18-month recession, according to a new report.

Nearly half of those surveyed by Thomsons Online Benefits predicted 2010 will be a period of growth (43%), and that they are more optimistic about their business's future (48%). 

But they are still feeling under pressure to minimise costs and improve return on investment (93%), with just under a third of companies (30%) still unable to measure the effectiveness of their strategy.

While the majority of respondents believe it is important (63%) to demonstrate a return on investment from their reward spend, over a third report they cannot do this very well (38.%) or at all (24%).

A third of respondents in the financial services sector (34%) report that they will be amending their pay and bonus arrangements based on the new Financial Services Authority Code of Practice, with another third (32%) not intending to make any changes.

But opinion is split on whether the new Financial Services Authority Code of Practice on Remuneration will impact the UK's ability to attract and retain top talent. Around four in 10 respondents (38%) do not think the new code will have an effect, while around a third (34%) believe that it will.

More than a third of respondents either haven't measured the success of their benefit package (36%) or don't know if they have (11%). Less than one in 10 respondents have measured the cost savings generated.

And 70% have no idea how much they are spending on their employee benefits.

Michael Whitfield, CEO of Thomsons Online Benefits, said: "2010 is already turning out to be a remarkable year. With equity markets dithering and the euro under huge pressure after the Greek bailout, the new Cameron-Clegg coalition has it all to do just to keep UK plc afloat, let alone begin to attack the massive budget deficit issue.

"Coalition governments have little or no history of introducing radical fiscal or important legislative reform. The compromise deal the Conservatives must almost certainly have had to do with the Liberal Democrats will rule out an early reduction in the 50% tax level, or the removal of the pension anti-forestalling legislation. So say hello to three to four more years of high taxes and immensely frustrating legislative red tape and bottlenecks.

"One thing is for sure, the reward community is a resilient one. And while last year was a tough one for many businesses, we saw our clients change their strategies as the economic climate dictated they had to. This resilience and flexibility augurs well for a successful future, whoever is sitting in Number 10."