HR salaries are set to gradually increase following tough economic times. HR Leader examines some of the latest trends in HR remuneration and looks at how HR professionals can improve their pay prospects
The global financial crisis brought
former year-on-year pay increases for
many HR professionals to an abrupt
halt. With many companies freezing
salaries and recruitment and/or
implementing redundancy programs, some HR
folk were happy to keep their job let alone worry
about a pay rise.
At present, the general consensus among HR
recruiters is that HR salaries are fairly stable.
However, there are signs that this will change in
the near future with an upward trend in HR
remuneration. Emma Egan, manager of Hays
Human Resources, says organisations are looking
for more value for their dollar and have much
higher expectations regarding a candidate’s skills
and experience for the salary on offer.
“Candidates meanwhile will only change roles if
it comes with a salary increase,” she says.
“Those candidates who accepted lower
salaries during the downturn are also looking for
more attractive salaries now. Candidates
currently in contracts are also looking for an
increase.” As the shortage of quality candidates
intensifies across the range of HR disciplines,
Egan says pressure will return to salaries.
Craig Mason, director of The Next Step, says
that salaries are most definitely on the march
again after being put on hold during 2009. The
early career market which was most impacted in
the downturn is definitely the big mover in 2010,
he says, and there has been a strong bounce in
both the volume of roles and salaries. Other areas
of demand include the specialist markets of
reward and learning and development/organisational development.
Variable pay is still an area that HR lags in,
according to Mason, who cites a Next Step
survey of almost 2000 HR professionals across
Australia, which found that 60 per cent of HR
professionals earn less than a 10 per cent bonus.
This compares with only 21 per cent of HR
professionals that think this level of bonus is
appropriate. At the other end of the scale, only
18 per cent earn more than 20 per cent in bonus.
“Clearly, the opportunity exists for companies to
differentiate themselves by linking reward and
performance in HR,” Mason states.
Increasing HR’s earning power
There are a number of things that HR professionals can do to increase
their earning power. On an individual basis, David Owens, managing
director of HR Partners, says it’s important to add value, contribute to the
effectiveness of the organisation, innovate and be commercial in your
implementation of HR knowledge.
“Make yourself indispensable, be the go-to person for know-how, if you
are not participating in a bonus scheme propose a scheme – establish your
KPIs, communicate these to all concerned parties and drive your own
performance in response to the key measures,” he recommends.
“How better to prove your willingness to be considered a fully fledged
member of any leadership team than offer to participate in the same
assessment and reward program as the majority of performance sensitive
employees. Finally, regularly exceed your KPIs – that should do the trick.”
Mary Joseph, Robert Walters’ associate director – HR, business support,
sales & marketing, notes that in some organisations, HR professionals will
face considerable challenges in maintaining delivery with reduced budgets
and resources. “Candidates who can help drive cost efficiencies, improve
staff performance, directly impact staff retention and attraction and help
win new projects will be the ones who can increase their earning power this
year,” she says.
“Although the majority of permanent salaries remain stable, there is
increased competition for the best candidates. This has led to talented
professionals being counter offered and, on occasion, receiving sign-on
While there may have been redundancies last year, HR job vacancies are
now rising and candidate shortages are already starting to emerge in certain
areas, Egan observes. So as the year progresses, she says salary pressure will
inevitably return as employers compete for the top talent. “Candidates
though still need to remain flexible in their expectations. Those that demand
an increase could see themselves priced out of the market. Certainly
candidates with specific skills are likely to receive an increase, but in the
mid-term increases are unlikely to occur across the board,” she explains.
Mason agrees, and says that the continued strength and rebound of the
Australian economy would seem to indicate that demand for various areas
of HR will remain strong, which will be reflected in salaries. “The sleeper so
far has been the senior HR market and with more confidence and some
churn in this space, we could see some significant increases at the top end,”
Also, as Asia continues to recover, Mason believes there could be
pressure in the Australian market from companies recruiting locally for
roles in the region. “Australian HR professionals are well regarded and the
scale and complexity of roles means that potentially offshore HR
opportunities will be able to reward people at stronger levels than in
Australia,” he asserts.
HR salaries by the numbers
Role Permanent salary per annum
HR director $250-280K
National HR manager $160-170K
HR manager $140-160K
HR advisor (5+ years' exp) $90-120K
HR advisor (1-4 years' exp) $70-80K
HR officer $65-70K
HR coordinator $55-65K
HR administrator $55-65K
HR graduate $45-55K
Industrial/Employee relations manager $160K+
Remuneration and benefits consultant $135-160K
Organisational development manager $130K+
Change manager $130K+
Learning & development manager $130K+
Recruitment manager $100-150K
Organisational development advisor $90-100K
Industrial/Employee relations advisor $90-120K
Learning & development advisor $70-85K
Workforce planning consultant $70-80K
Recruitment officer $70-80K
Source: Robert Walters Salary Survey 2010. Note: Figures are basic salaries inclusive of superannuation, but exclusive of benefits/bonuses. Figures are relevant for Sydney.
If you take away only one thing
David Owens, managing director of HR Partners, predicts a distinct move to a HR talent shortage in the next three to six months. "The number of HR opportunities being handled by HR Partners has doubled since the beginning of February, and by July I expect the market to be even hungrier," he says.
“In short remuneration for successful and effective HR professionals is headed up, and it's hard to see how the bubble can be burst. In fact I think because of the increased appetite within organisations for HR to manage flexibility, diversity and workforce planning, the opportunities for HR professionals to make a meaningful contribution have just improved and expanded even more. With a future this bright HR people are going to need to wear shades.”