Employers must focus on purpose as well as pay in 2022 – Belfast Telegraph


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By John Moore, managing director, Hays NI

fter another strange, Covid disrupted year, many people will have used the break over Christmas to assess their career options heading into 2022.

As I’ve said before in this column, many sectors are currently experiencing a very candidate driven market, with plenty of roles on offer, so employers are having to work hard to attract the right talent.

Last year, overall salaries across the UK increased by 2.8%, according to the Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2022 guide, above the 1.2% witnessed last year, and in Northern Ireland, the data showed that the average salary increase was slightly higher at 3.2%.

But many roles which required specialist skills saw far greater, even double-digit increases. In a list of the top 20 roles which received the highest salary increases in Northern Ireland last year, 10 were in technology, six were in engineering and manufacturing, three were in procurement, supply chain and logistics, and one was in the legal sector.

Supply chain managers saw an increase of 18.2%, the highest increase in the top 20, followed by data analysts, who saw an increase of 16.7%. Other roles which experienced above average increases included heads of legal (15.6%), technology product owners (15%), process engineers (14.3%), project control managers (14%) and UI/UX Developers (12.5%).

This compares to our UK-wide survey which was dominated by tech, with 15 of the roles with the highest salary increases in technology, highlighting the high demand for IT professionals across the country.

It seems likely that we will continue to see salaries continue to rise in 2022 in these in-demand sectors. In fact, more than two-thirds (69%) of employers in NI said they intend to increase salaries over the next year, compared with 61% UK-wide and professionals working in areas such as technology, engineering and manufacturing, marketing, life sciences and construction can expect double digit salary growth to continue.

The types of roles we would expect to see further substantial increases in include tech roles such as chief information officers, platform engineers, cyber security managers, data engineers, software architects and DevOps engineers – all of which saw 11% increases in NI last year.

It’s clear from the employee side of the survey that many people feel they aren’t being paid what they are worth, with over a third (36%) of NI workers saying they are dissatisfied with their currently salary. The main cause for this dissatisfaction is that they feel their salary does not reflect their individual performance (56%).

This feeling of not being recognised also provides an indication of just how important culture is to people in their careers today. While many employers are competing on salary, close to two-thirds (63%) of local professionals say they would be prepared to accept a lower paid job for a better work-life balance or a job with more purpose.

Salary is always a key consideration in any recruitment process. But our research indicates again this year that people are increasingly being motivated to work for organisations which prioritise social responsibility and doing good – with a clear shift in the weighting that traditional motivators such as pay and benefits have in some sectors. A culture and environment that provides opportunities to volunteer, support charitable organisations, and having a clear strategy for sustainability are all really important to candidates.

When faced with a need for staff to fill essential gaps in an organisation and low levels of skilled talent being available, it can be hard for employers to focus on anything other than salary, but for those who want to compete successfully for talent and then retain them long term, it is an essential part of the hiring picture. 

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