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HR professionals not happy with pay levels

Salary and recruiting trends from Hays reveal HR professionals feel underpaid, underdeveloped and ready to move roles

More than half (53%) of HR professionals in the UK will enter 2016 dissatisfied with their pay, according to the Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2016 report, seen exclusively by HR magazine.

Typical pay for an HR director in the private sector in London is £140,000 per annum, and for an HR director more generally the typical salary was £80,000.

Despite this, 85% of HR professionals said they are aiming to leave their jobs within the next three years, and 57% within the next 12 months. The top reason for wanting to leave was the salary and benefits package, cited by 24% of those who plan to quit.

Additionally, more than four in 10 (44%) HR professionals said they do not think there is any scope for progression in their role. This lack of future opportunity accounted for 20%, or one in five, top reasons why HR professionals said they were considering a move to another role.

Barney Ely, director of Hays’ HR practice, said he believes that HR itself could be part of the problem. “I think HR does not always do for itself the service that it provides for other functions,” he told HR magazine. “Saying there is a lack of opportunity for progression might be true, but there is also the opportunity to develop skills and experience within HR.

“When compared to other industries HR salaries are rising slightly below [the average]. This could be because in HR there is not the same skills gap you are seeing in other areas. HR generalists are experiencing more pressure and expectation in terms of talent, as the market makes it more difficult to attract talent.”

However, simply raising pay may not be the answer to retaining top staff. Helen Giles, executive director of human resources at homelessness charity St Mungo’s Broadway, told HR magazine that no matter the sector or function, for most employees having high pay isn’t a motivator, but having fair pay is. “If you’re paying lower than the competition that will be perceived as unfair,” she said.

“If your pay is on a level with who you are competing with for talent you are on a hiding to nothing if you focus on pay. What people value is being recognised for doing a good job, getting developed, and having the prospect of a career path. Above everything else is good line management, and that is what British industry has a paucity of.”

Giles called for a level of transparency around pay. “HRDs should network openly and share information [on things like salary],” she said. “The market is more buoyant now. HR people who are good are always going to find work because there are a lot of HR people who are qualified, but not that good. I doubt most good HR people are motivated by getting the highest salary. We all want to be recognised for being great at what we do.”

Some organisations are moving towards models that link reward more strategically with performance and recognition. Charles Cotton, reward adviser for the CIPD, said that its Reward Management survey (published

in July) indicates that many organisations are trying to better align pay with performance by linking reward with employee success and achievements. “Rather than just offering a standard package to all staff, employers are thinking more strategically about the perks they offer in terms of employee behaviours to join, stay and perform,” he said.

“There is interest in moving away from copying what other employers are doing around benefits. Instead, organisations are using insights from behavioural science and data analytics to offer perks that have an impact on the behaviours of different segments of workers.”