Large employers are apparently still harboring recession-related reservations about writing big bonus checks, despite difficulties in attracting and retaining top talent.

A survey of representatives of 170 major U.S. companies by Towers Watson finds that the majority of respondents say that they have no plans to fully fund their bonus pools when that magic season rolls around this year. Perhaps they don't see the relationship between that and the report from two-thirds of them that they can't recruit top talent and more than half that can't retain their top performers.

"Employers are continuing to take a conservative approach to funding their bonus pools," said Laura Sejen, managing director at Towers Watson, who notes that funding for incentive pools is generally tied to a company's financial performance.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.