HR pay, demand keeps rising

by 10 Jul 2007

The continuing tight labour market, and the resulting increase in focus on retention and attraction, is fuelling growing demand and salary increases for Australian HR professionals.

In terms of salaries, Sydney-based HR directors are the best paid in the country. HR directors with more than three years’ experience can now command up to $400,000 in a large organisation in Sydney. In Melbourne, an equivalent role would net $280,000, according to figures from Michael Page.

With employment growth generally expected to increase over the coming 12 months, Michael Page said recruitment of HR professionals will continue as companies look to protect the investments made in human capital.

With Australia in the midst of the tightest labour market in 30 years, attraction and retention is becoming a key focus for organisations, with 41 per cent of employers admitting to experiencing difficulty in retaining staff in the past 12 months. Moreover, 87 per cent of employers now view staff retention as a key business focus for the year ahead.

That, said Matthew Gribble, HR director at Michael Page, is in turn fuelling salary increases for HR professionals. “Human resources functions are largely responsible for attraction/retention strategies in these areas and are receiving additional staffing resources and investment,” he said. “As a consequence, the employment forecast for HR professionals is very positive. We anticipate 5 per cent salary increases as an average, with 10 per cent rises a possibility for hard-to-find skill sets.”

He added that the answer to recruitment and retention issues is increasingly not related to remuneration. “Our research points to career development and workplace flexibility as two key areas that HR functions need to address in the areas of attraction and retention,”Gribble said.

In terms of career development, 29 per cent of those polled by Michael Page said that was the reason for the last job change. Just 9 per cent cited increased salary as their primary reason for shifting jobs. That is leading to demand for HR professionals with specialist skills in talent management and learning and development.

Gribble said that workplace flexibility is the most popular non-financial incentive for surveyed employees, adding that it will become increasingly important in the coming years.

“Flexible working options will become more critical over the next five years to prolong the workplace participation of mature workers, as well as making it easier for skilled parents with family responsibilities to re-enter the workforce on a part-time basis,” he said.

Indeed, some employers are already responding to the challenge. St.George Bank garnered headlines recently for its plan to offer up to 12 months of grandparental leave to older employees. The bank’s HR chief, Brett Wright, said it was a key part of St.George’s retention strategy. “St.George is a growing company that is always looking for the best people to join our team,” he said. “We believe that by offering staff these additional benefits we will attract the best people, will enhance their performance, give increased job satisfaction, and ultimately encourage loyalty.”

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