Aussie HR directors in global demand

by 15 May 2007

AUSTRALIAN COMPANIES are ranked within the top 10 highest payers of base salaries and annual total cash for HR directors globally.

A recent analysis of 15 countries by Mercer Human Resource Consulting found that senior executives in HR earn the highest salaries and annual total cash if they live in the US, while HR directors in the US earn more than four times as much as their counterparts in India.

“The talent market for senior executives is becoming increasingly competitive and increasingly international,” said Rob Knox, head of Mercer product services.

“This means that if Australian companies, and overseas companies with operations in Australia, are going to be able to attract and retain key executive talent, they will need to consider paying salaries that are internationally competitive”

The best-paid HR directors are found in the US, the UK and Germany, where employees can earn average base pay of US$190,000 ($228,860), US$172,400 ($207,660) and US$168,000 ($202,400), respectively.

The US also leads in total cash compensation of HR directors at US$241,700 ($291,140), followed by Brazil at US$228,000 ($274,660) and Germany at US$224,500 ($270,440).

Senior Australian HR professionals in general are well regarded overseas, Knox said.

“As organisations continue to organise themselves at a regional or global level, there is plenty of opportunity, particularly in Asia-Pacific, for senior HR professionals to take on regional responsibility.”

This may necessitate a move into places like Singapore and Hong Kong, he added, but may allow for people to continue operating out of Australia.

There was particular demand for HR professionals with knowledge of different jurisdictions (such as compensation and benefits as well as industrial/employee relations) and recruitment, given the overall labour market pressures, Knox said.

“While it’s difficult to make absolute comparisons, Australian HR professionals have typically operated in a mature market and have been exposed to stable infrastructure, well developed methods and processed, as well as new ideas that can potentially give them a competitive edge in a global market,” he said.

“In some ways, their challenges will be how to adapt these experiences to rapidly evolving markets.”

David Conroy, UK leader of reward at Mercer, said that average salaries for HR directors were higher where their role is more strategic and business focused.

“Examples are where HR directors are driving through change programs for their employer and taking a leadership role in merger and acquisition activity.”

Steve Gross, global leader of broad-based rewards at Mercer, also said bonuses increase pay significantly for many positions.

“This is illustrated most dramatically by Brazil, which ranks seventh in HR director base pay and second in terms of total cash compensation,” he said.

“This reflects the value placed on HR directors among Brazilian companies, balancing the influence of finance and marketing directors in that total cash compensation is comparable for all of these positions.”

Compensation has long been driven by such factors as historic pay levels, size of economy and competition for talent, Gross said.

“As companies become more globally mobile and can shift some jobs to lower-cost locations, these new considerations will have a big impact on pay levels among countries.”

The 15-country analysis is drawn from a larger Mercer survey, the 2007 Global Pay Summary, which took in more than 2300 organisations around the world.


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