In findings from key surveys of technology industry employers -- conducted by Aon Consulting's San Jose-based Radford Surveys -- second quarter 2004 layoffs are at a two-year low, with less than 20 percent of companies reporting layoffs. Additionally, the findings from the July 2004 editions of Aon's Radford Benchmark, Executive and Overall Practices Surveys, which collect and analyze key compensation trends and practices for the technology industry, show that nearly one-third of responding companies have returned to what they consider "normal hiring levels."

Aon's study found that voluntary turnover among surveyed tech companies is at 8.9 percent. This marks the third year in a row that voluntary turnover has dropped, and this figure is the lowest in the history of the surveys, which date back to the mid-1980s. Also of note, the surveys indicate that technology remains a "stock option culture" despite pressure from institutional investors and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to expense stock options. Although some companies are currently considering or incorporating the use of restricted stock, stock options remain the primary equity compensation tool for technology firms.

Aon cautions that, given the current environment, companies will need to pay close attention to recruitment and retention issues. Radford suggests that, "With the decline of layoffs, voluntary turnover at record lows, and thawing of salary freezes, many companies are now looking to new realities of retaining key performers, who may be in jeopardy as hiring resumes."

More than 950 companies contributed data this year to the Radford Surveys domestic database of more than one million current technology employees.

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