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How do your wages compare? Data from the 2017 Hays Salary Guide

By Samuel Williamson

3 min read

If you’ve ever wondered where your salary sits among your industry peers or whether, as a small business owner, you’re paying your staff appropriate wages, the latest Hays Salary Guide can help.

Here, we’ve summarised the general findings and key trends.
 

About the guide

The recruitment firm’s annual survey offers a snapshot of more than 1,200 salaries across Australia and New Zealand, charting recruitment trends, salary policy, and diversity in the context of the broader economic outlook for 2017–18. The guide surveyed more than 2,950 organisations, representing more than 3 million employees, for this year’s survey.
 

A strengthening economy

Overall, employers are optimistic about the next 12 months, foreseeing a strengthened economy and expected increase in headcounts.

Of the organisations surveyed, 70% reported increased business activity over the past 12 months. At the same time, 45% of employers said they expect to take on more permanent staff this year, while 23% expect to hire more temporary and contract staff.
 

Key salary trends

Despite the positive economic outlook, it’s unlikely to translate into pay hikes any time soon. Well over half (65%) of employers said they would give their staff a pay rise of less than 3% per cent in their next review, while 11% said they had no plans to increase wages at all.

This may account for a less than optimistic view from the employees surveyed. Only 32% requested a pay rise in 2016–17, of which 17% were successful. Adding to this, more than a quarter expect no salary increase at all, 42% expect an increase of less than 3%, and 17% expect a rise of only 3% to 6%.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) also highlight the discrepancy – wage growth has stalled at an all-time low and pay rises are failing to keep pace with inflation. The most recent ABS figures, contained in June’s adjusted Wage Price Index, showed a rise of just 0.5% in the last quarter and 1.9% over the year to date, putting it below the 2.1% rise in the cost of living.
 

Industry-specific findings

The survey indicates those industries that require highly skilled workers in relatively short supply are likely to offer more competitive wages. Professional services in sectors such as accounting, finance, and payroll are good examples of where this could happen, with talent shortages showing no signs of abating.

IT and telecommunications were the most generous of industries, with 20% of employers in the field saying they will award salary increases of 6% or more in their next review.

Wages and salaries in the construction sector appear set to remain pretty much at current levels, mirroring the broader survey results, despite record levels of building industry employment, the survey found. All up, 12% of employers have no plans to raise staff wage levels, and 54% said they would offer increases of less than 3%. Another 25% were only slightly more generous, with plans to offer wage increases of 6% or more.

These figures are despite the high levels of construction activity that are continuing to underpin demand for new staff. The number of people employed throughout the sector in Australia jumped by 45,500 in 2017 to a record 1.115 million. In fact, construction staff numbers have risen by more than 91,500 or 8.9% over the past two years.

Competition to find skilled electricians, fitters, sheet metal workers, boilermakers, and welders is robust, with an emerging gap in the market due to a relative lack of job seekers who have completed apprenticeships over the past five to 10 years, the survey found. Those with the highest in-demand skills are likely to be able to negotiate a better deal off the bat from their employers, especially if there is a glaring talent shortage in the region where they are working.
 

Recruitment trends

While salaries continue to be subdued, employers are turning to things such as flexible work practices to hire and retain staff. For example, professional service industries were reported as taking on more temporary hires than in previous years, especially in the lead-up to the end of the financial year.

Flexible work is popular among employees too, with 86% citing its importance when searching for a new job. They also highlighted career progression opportunities (84%) and ongoing learning and development (76%) as important factors in a job search.

It appears salaries across most industries are likely to remain relatively stagnant over the next 12 months, despite a generally positive economic outlook. Individual employees in certain sectors should, however, be able to negotiate better pay terms. For a more detailed breakdown of how your employees’ wages compare to the national average in any given sector, use the Hays salary check.

For more guidance on managing your staff and employees, check out these resources.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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