An increasing number of employers are using cash-based long-term incentives as part of their employee compensation programs, according to a new survey.

The survey, released by Buck Consultants, a Xerox Company found a significant increase across the globe in the use of cash-based LTI. Since 2012 cash LTI awards increased from 10 percent to 14 percent in the U.S., 9 percent to 18 percent in Canada, 6 percent to 18 percent in the United Kingdom, and 7 percent to 18 percent in France,.

Buck Consultants' annual Global Long-Term Incentive Practices Survey found that companies are substituting cash LTI for equity-based awards where it is appropriate. Additionally, the use of cash LTI awards increased in the U.S. at all employee levels (except for the CEO level) and more than doubled over the past two years for vice presidents, directors and managers.

"Companies are taking a hard look at the use of equity-based incentives and determining that, in some cases, cash may be the more effective motivator," said Sandra Sussman, a director in Buck Consultants' compensation practice, in a statement.

The results indicate that full-value awards remain the most prevalent vehicle, with the most value being delivered in the form of time-based restricted stock/units.

Buck's survey examined the global long-term incentive compensation practices of more than 130 participating companies in 40 countries. Multinational companies considering the use of equity-based LTI on a global basis must consider, among other things, the culture, local market conditions, regulatory challenges and tax implications of each country where employees are located. The GLTI Survey is a resource that provides guidance to compensation professionals about whether and where to grant equity-based awards.

The survey also found that stock options continued to decline in use. Retention is now the most frequently cited reason for making off-cycle grants, increasing from 77 percent in 2012 to 97 percent in 2013. The overall median value of equity delivered to U.S. employees continues to be significantly higher than that to employees in other countries and has remained stable over the years.

Participation in LTI plans continued to decline for lower-level employees across the globe, except in Europe and Canada, which saw a rebound.

"In the U.S., participation rates have been on the decline for manager-level employees and below since 2010, while high participation rates for VP and director-level positions have remained stable," said Sussman. "We see the greatest declines in participation amongst lower-level employee groups which could be an indication that employers are becoming more concerned about motivating and retaining key senior employees whose roles and decisions are perceived to have a stronger and more direct connection to success drivers and stock price performance."

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