· News

HR bonuses doubled in 2010

HR professionals were paid a total of 1.5 billion in bonuses in 2010, more than double the amount of the previous year.

Total remuneration for HR professionals escalated 12% last year, thanks in part to the higher-than-expected bonus payouts, according to research by HR recruiter Ortus.

An average of £9,980 was paid out in bonuses for every HR worker in the City, as the average bonus reached 18% of salary. If the HR professionals in the southeast were added, the average bonus would be £9,800. This outstripped mid-year expectations when HR employees expected to receive 13.5%.

If extrapolated to cover the UK’s 148,000 HR professionals, the total bonus would be £1.5 billion, compared to just under £680m in 2009.

According to Ortus, the average HR salary in the City was £55,400 – up 5.1% from 2009. Total remuneration for the average HR professional was £64,300 in 2010, up 12% from £56,800 in 2009.

"HR departments are a bellwether for the economy. It is good news for everyone that they are getting busy again, as companies are beginning to compete for talent once more," said Stephen Menko, UK director for Ortus.

"Bonus expectations have been modest since the beginning of the recession, as many professionals were concerned more about job security than pay, but these figures show that this is changing. HR professionals are plugged into the jobs market and it is not surprising that they are looking for opportunities. For many, bonus season may be the time to cash in and move on to pastures new," he said.

The sharp increase in HR bonuses follows a year of job creation in the sector. Between the second quarters of 2009 and 2010, the number of HR professionals increased by 6.7%.

"During 2010, there was a sharp increase in demand for HR professionals," added Menko.

"Strong individuals are being rewarded. Employers are pulling out all the stops to hold onto the best workers in their HR departments. ‘Soft’ benefits that have less impact on the company’s bottom line are becoming more commonplace, and one-off bonus payments have been surprisingly high in the past year, showing that in tough times companies are using bonuses to keep their staff happy."

Company performance alone was used to calculate bonuses for just 16% of HR personnel, down from 19% in 2009. The trend was towards bonuses based on personal performance.