The first half of 2010 has seen many companies in Australia continue to implement cost-cutting strategies that began in late 2008, says a survey released by Robert Walters.

The global recruitment consultancy’s ‘Salary Survey 2010′ indicated that a large number of companies carried out redundancies and reduced employees’ remuneration packages in a bid to lessen the impact of the financial markets’ downturn on their bottom line.

However, the report also said that some firms hired top-tier professionals while their counterparts were downsizing, to upgrade the talent within their firm ahead of the anticipated economic recovery.

According to James Nicholson, managing director of Robert Walters Australia, financial services firms recovered sooner than commercial businesses and salaries that stayed flat or fell in 2009 are expected to rise in 2010.

“Organisations will need to ensure they focus on employee engagement, implement strong staff retention strategies and carefully consider pay increments and bonuses in order to attract and retain top-tier staff,” Nicholson explained.

In the second half of 2009, Nicholson said confidence has begun returning to the economy, with many firms realising they had ‘cut too deep’ and were unable to operate businesses effectively on reduced levels of staff.

“If the economy continues to recover at the current rate, skills shortages will be prevalent across a number of sectors including finance and IT by the end of 2010. With Australia already reaching near full employment (with ABS unemployment figures at 5.3% in January 2010) it is likely that employers will need to source international candidates to fill ‘talent gaps’ in the Australian market as well as training and developing their own staff.”