A write-up of the results gathered from our workplace and hiring insights survey of UK based employers and professionals.
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2019 Workplace and Hiring Survey Insights
As part of compiling the 2019 Morgan McKinley salary guides, 2,400 active UK based professionals and employers were surveyed to gain an insight into their varying views of employment. All respondents - covering varying levels of seniority from entry, up to owner - were either permanently employed, hired on contracts or in temporary roles.
Job titles were not specified, but the majority of respondents (at the time our survey was sent) worked within our core disciplines of either Accounting & Finance, Compliance, Financial Services Operations, Human Resources, Internal Audit, IT/Tech, Legal, Marketing, Office Support, Public Practice, Risk Management, Sales, Strategy Projects and Change, Supply Chain & Procurement or Tax.
UK employment market resilient against Brexit concerns
It is an unavoidable topic, so it's somewhat inevitable that our overview of employment in 2018 commences with Brexit. Whilst it has been widely reported that leaving the EU will result in a skills shortage and have a drastic effect on overall hiring, the overwhelming majority of employer respondents have not changed their hiring plans at all (78%). This figure has been obtained from across a number of disciplines, so it will naturally differ, but generally it seems organisations haven’t taken significant steps to alter their recruitment. Quite surprisingly, only 2% claim to be hiring individuals with specific language skills - is this a display of confidence in UK based jobs?
Perhaps not: 49% of employers believe the United Kingdom’s employment market is less attractive as a direct consequence of Brexit, with only 3% seeing it as more attractive. Despite a lack of steps being taken to alter recruitment plans, it will be harder for overseas workers to move to the UK for work. This significantly decreases the allure of working in the country and could result in organisations struggling to fill certain roles.
When asked about their future career plans, our surveyed professionals gave a wide spread of responses. Just over a quarter (26%) are looking to move in the next year and 15% in the next few years. Looking for a change somewhat sooner, 16% are looking in the next 3 months and 15% in the next month - could this be an eagerness to secure a different role before the UK Brexit landscape develops further?
Unsurprisingly, workers always want to be earning more
We saw growth of salaries outpace inflation for the first time in over 12 months in April 2018. Regardless of this, employees in such competitive markets feel they should be earning more. Across the aforementioned disciplines, the majority of surveyed professionals feel they are underpaid (60%). 32% are content with their current salary or rate, and a mere 3% perceive their pay to be above market rates. A select few (5%) seem unaware of what similar level professionals earn.
Somewhat coinciding with the statement from the Office for National Statistics on wage growth, our results showed that professionals were pretty much split down the middle on whether they received a raise in the past 12 months. 51% responded ‘Yes, I’ve had a salary/rate increase’ and 49% stated ‘No, I have not had a salary/rate increase’. The 2019 landscape looks very much the same, with 50% expecting an increase, despite Brexit progressions. Of those expecting a raise, annual increase (39%) and personal performance (38%) topped the pile for reasons behind their enhanced remuneration or improved rates. There were a few mentions of individuals receiving raises due to undertaking more qualifications; the importance of professional development should not be overlooked for improved earnings, as well as career prospects.
Over half of respondents reaping additional rewards from employers
The distribution of bonuses depends on many factors, including seniority and specific discipline. Our survey has given an overall picture of the bonus landscape in the UK; 53% are expecting a bonus in their company’s upcoming bonus period, with the most common amounts due to be received being either <10% or 10-24% of the individual’s base salary - only a few are in line to receive a larger portion of their base. Brexit could yet play a role in this - investment bankers, amongst other banking positions, have been identified as certain roles likely to see decreased bonuses.
When asked how they feel their bonus fares against those given out by competitors, most believe their employer gives bonuses that are worse than competitors (32%) or about the same (32%). Only 12% perceive their bonus to be better than the rest of the market - the remainder claimed to be unsure. Companies that offer above odds bonuses have another string to their bow when attempting to attract or retain top professionals; almost three quarters of respondents declared that a bonus is either very important (28%) or important (43%) to influencing their decision to stay at a business or leave for a competitor.
Moving soon? Money or progression tempt professionals to new roles
The most common reason professionals up sticks and move role, unsurprisingly, is for a pay rise (34%). A fair chunk of respondents (26%) are eager and driven to improve their career prospects, stating career progression as the primary reason for a move. A better work-life balance, more challenging work, better location or improved commute, enhanced training opportunities and better benefits made up the remainder.
Looking forward to the rest of 2019, ultimate career goals included earning more money (35%), improving work-life balance (24%), improving job satisfaction (23%) and progressing within their business (18%).
Ultimately, money still talks when it comes to deciding upon a new role; the majority of respondents (73%) say benefits are either not important at all or not the most important factor when evaluating a potential business to work for.
Extra hours still the norm across the UK
Despite demand for flexibility and such a focus on work-life balance as seen in the desired career goals for 2019, it is quite surprising to see that over a quarter (26%) of respondents are typically working over 10 hours beyond their contracted amount every week, whilst 46% claimed to clock up 0-10 extra hours in the office each week. 27% routinely stick to their contracted hours - only 1% work less than they should. These figures coincide with the increased workloads noticed over the past year; 67% state their workload has increased and naturally, that means more time in the office (or working at home).
Unsurprisingly, and coinciding with previously highlighted 2019 career goals, there is a desire for a better balance; the ability to work fewer hours would attract 54% of respondents to a new job opportunity. The remainder of surveyed professionals aren’t too fussed about working long hours - 46% are prepared to slog out long days, going above and beyond to remain in their role.
Working under significant levels of pressure is not always a bad thing
Increased hours and more work are both synonymous with heightened levels of stress. In the office, according to the Yerkes-Dodson law, a certain level of stress can lead to heightened productivity - over half of respondents (53%) believe they work under optimum stress on a daily basis. However, too much pressure can be detrimental both in terms of an individual’s mental health and their performance in the workplace; 28% have too much stress and 4% believe they are at ‘burn-out’ level. Only 15% have very little stress.
When asked what would make their working lives easier, once again flexible working cropped up and was the most frequent response, closely followed by additional support and a better culture in the office.
Companies taking steps to streamline hiring processes
Many factors can cause troubles when sourcing candidates: Lack of strong candidates, strict company requirements and too high expectations of professionals. But once the select few suitable interviewees have been identified, the majority of organisations are confident in their hiring processes, with 74% claiming most candidates, once in their process, are successfully hired into the company and a further 2% never lose applicants to competitors. On the other side of the spectrum, 11% quite often lose candidates and 13% have little faith in their processes, stating they struggle to hire. The primary reason given for this struggle is not being able to meet candidate’s remuneration expectations, followed by candidates accepting other offers or being counter offered by their current employer.
Despite the perceived success of hiring processes, organisations are constantly seeking ways to optimise their recruitment. In the past two years, companies have improved their processes of sourcing and hiring employees by hiring dedicated resources (35%), training existing staff (26%) and through the use of technology (15%) or other techniques (3%). The remaining 21% are frustrated with a lack of progression in their processes, stating nothing has improved in the last 24 months.
In terms of holding onto their best employees, retention is generally perceived to be strong: 53% of employers claim they retain most of their top professionals and 10% believe they always retain their top talent. The main reasons employees stay at their companies were: challenging and enticing work, good work-life balance and good opportunities for career growth.
Whilst most organisations have impressive rates of retention, some struggle (9%) or quite often lose them to competitors (28%). If companies are looking to improve their retention for 2019, in line with the career goals of professionals previously mentioned, they must consider offering greater growth and promotion opportunities, find better ways to recognise personal performances, offer more platforms for learning, as well as paying higher salaries.
People will only move for the most appropriate benefits
Beyond offering significant salaries and the availability of bonuses, it is widely thought that organisations can attract the most talented professionals by offering a diverse or unique selection of benefits. At the moment, it seems there is a discrepancy between what individuals want and what’s available to them: Our findings display that only 22% of surveyed individuals claim their company offers a unique benefits package.
People are only tempted by benefits that are relevant to their situation - if offered a specifically tailored benefits package, 86% responded that they would be persuaded to move jobs. The most frequently sought after benefits were flexible working, a company pension scheme and additional annual leave days.