We asked Anthony Johnson, Head of Wallace Myers Financial Services Staffing, his views on recent news articles about expected salary increase in Ireland. Here's what he thinks.
It’s the early stages of the New Year and for many, this time of year brings about the annual salary review conversation. A conversation that is exciting, nerve-wracking but more often than not, disappointing.
The reason for the disappointment is mainly because it is also the time of year that salary surveys are published, usually followed swiftly by articles about salary increases. Both tend to set high expectations, sometimes justifiably so, but often these articles are unjustified and cause unnecessary frustration.
To date, I have read four 2019 salary surveys and countless articles about expected salary increases in Ireland. None of these surveys or articles actually provide a lot of context. This does nothing but cause headaches for line managers and human resources personnel who then have a wave of disgruntled employees. It also causes frustration for those who do not receive the ‘average salary increase’ that they have read about.
One such article this week in TheJournal.ie noted a number of things, including that a large number of employees (60%) feel undervalued and 61% say they work more than there contracted hours. The content is damning but there is no context! Which companies are these? How big are these companies? What industries are they in? Is this mainly junior employees or senior employees or a combination of all?
Content without context leads to speculation and creates a sense of unrest amongst employees. In the age of transparency, should these articles not give clearer context to help people create informed opinions? Or do we continue to contribute to the fake news epidemic that is plaguing our newsfeeds?
This particular article opens with “Salaries are set to rise by 5% on average, and by up to 20% for in demand and emerging niche skill-sets this year”. With all of the increased rising costs in the economy, I definitely should get a 5% increase and actually I consider my talents to be niche, nobody does my job the way I do it, so actually, I should expect at least a 20% increase! Content without context just creates disappointment and frustration because I know this will not happen.
Here is some much needed context. Statistics regarding average salary increases will include:
• increases for employees who have been or are being promoted
• increases for employees who leave for another organisation
• increases for employees who are counter offered
• employees with basic increases as demanded by the market
But also, these statistics will include those employees who do not get increases at all, including for example those who have bonus driven compensation structures and companies who do not provide salary reviews.
In my role, I have regular conversations with both clients and candidates about salaries, as do my colleagues. Through these conversations, it is quite typical that employees who are being promoted can expect salary increases between roughly 5-9% typically. Employees transitioning between employers on the other hand, very rarely leave for the same figure as they are currently on. Although some employees may move for a 5% increase, others are moving for anything up to 20% and above this occasionally. Note, this also takes into consideration the niche and higher-level senior staff who transition. It is also worth noting that this is just representative of the clients and candidates that we come into contact with on a daily basis, a minute percentage of Ireland's employment population.
From my professional knowledge, I expect that the niche roles in question in this article are technology related roles due to the Tech industry’s dynamic environment which is constantly evolving and requires new and unique skill-sets. Additionally, GDPR related skill-sets are niche and a major focus for many organisations. Other in-demand skill-sets include areas such as change management, and business and data analysis. There are also candidate shortages in many other areas which results in increases in salary offer. Taking all of this into consideration, you can start to see where the salary increases actually take effect.
You were hired to do a role and your compensation was determined based on what is expected of you but also based on your skill set at that time. If the role you are working in has not changed much over the duration of the last year and is not expected to change much in 2019, is a 5% increase really justified?
Perhaps your role has evolved, is your new skill set a result of your own hard work and initiative or have the company you work for invested in your development through on-the-job training, mentoring, coaching, attendance at external events, or through further education support? Consider these and other soft benefits you have been afforded before you make any demands or decisions.
As an agency recruiter, my role and our role is to help candidates achieve their career aspirations, and help organisations find candidates with the right knowledge, skills and abilities needed to be successful and make an impact. If a candidate is feeling frustrated by these surveys and articles, they’re more likely to start searching for a new position which keeps agency recruiters busy, which in theory is great for me.
I am proud of the work I do even if the reputation of agency recruiters is not the best at times, and I know a lot of fantastic and thoughtful recruiters who will advise candidates as best they can. Unfortunately, such vague and misleading publications are often used as a tool by some recruiters to help ‘convince’ a candidate to make a change. This does not help the reputation of recruiters because the candidate can end up feeling like they have been taken advantage of. As does the company hiring that person.
In my opinion, this sort of article doesn’t really benefit anyone. Convincing someone to jump ship does the candidate no favours as the most likely then enter into a vicious circle and they will find themselves in the same frustrating situation in 12 months’ time.
It doesn’t do any favours to the company hiring them either as the candidate may be joining for the wrong reasons. This sometimes causes future issues when the candidate realise that they rushed the decision and it was ultimately the wrong move for them. Ultimately, it also does nothing to benefit the recruiter in the long run either.
As any experienced recruiter will tell you, we try to build long standing relationships by providing real knowledge and guidance. Influencing someone in the heat of the battle will always come back to haunt the recruiter as it rarely solves the actual problems of the very people you are supposed to be assisting. What does help is providing content with context so that people can make the right decisions at the right time for them or their organisation.
If you have considered everything and still feel undervalued, then yes, maybe it is time to consider a move. If you are looking for more money but you have not evolved in any way over the last year then again maybe it is time to change and take on a new challenge. In any of these situations, it is absolutely worth having a conversation with an agency recruiter to discuss your options, as long as they have your best interests in mind. But always keep in mind, that sometimes the financial gain that was so sought after, can actually come at a cost in other areas which you may not realise you valued until it is too late.
As my old boss, Chris used to say to me “Get all the information from both sides and make the best decision based off the facts but always remember, never run away from a problem - instead, run towards something that excites you.”