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Are wages finally set to increase?

Workers would like to see their wages increase, greater career prospects and more flexibility. But what are employers prepared to offer them this year?

The 2018 Hays Salary guide and recruitment trends is out, and it paints a picture not just about what to expect in terms of wage increases, but also which sectors of the job market are growing. So check out what HR roles are currently being paid and also what employee expectations are for their next salary review.

Two of the key trends in the report, which surveys nearly 3,000 organisations and can be read here (sign-up required), is that the labour market is returning to strength and companies are expecting to hire. However, there is a real shortage of skilled professionals which is making organisations less effective.

Supply and demand?

In a market of under-supply, salary increases become more likely to attract top talent. Nearly 90 per cent of employers say they intend to offer increases this year, which is just as well as employees say they expect one. Surveying 1200 professionals about what was most important to their career in the year ahead, 67 per cent said a pay rise. Not surprising, given the salary stagnation of recent years.

It’s not all good news, however. Although employers are more willing to offer salary increases than they were in 2017, the value of those increases will fall, with 65 per cent intending to raise salaries at the lower level of 3 per cent or less. In addition, while 8 per cent of businesses increased salaries by 6 per cent or more in their last review, only 6 per cent intend to increase them by that much this year.

After pay, the chief benefit that employees are seeking is flexibility – and employers have responded: 84 per cent say it’s the most common benefit they offer. Ongoing learning and development opportunities are also aligned, with employers and employees both saying this is the second priority for them (73 per cent).

Of those employees (46 per cent) who have itchy feet and are looking to change jobs in the year ahead, a little over half said the chief reason was due to no promotion prospects. This suggests that organisations could be doing more to develop existing talent, particularly since 44 per cent cited a lack new challenges, and 29 per cent said poor training and development were factors.

So what about employment trends for HR?

After several years where restructuring and outsourcing have been dominant themes, in-house HR recruitment is on the rise again. Those who are specialists in talent acquisition and retention will be particularly in demand.

In recent years, businesses addressing organisational development and change management have been more likely to call in a consultant. However, in response to market confidence and investment in recruitment and development, the industry has shifted towards building internal talent teams who can drive people strategy and partner with key stakeholders across an organisation.

As a consequence, the search is now on for HR Business Partners who are strategic, multi-skilled generalists. But Hays reports that contract rates are still outpacing permanent salary packages – something that businesses will have to address.

Across Australia, the contract market remained strong in 2017-2018, particularly in Federal and State governments in Canberra and Adelaide, where the focus was on agility to respond to project demands. However with a Federal election pending, there could be a shift towards more permanent HR engagements in 2018-19.

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