- Darren Diamond
Last week, the BBC released an article which showed how wage stagnation and higher costs of living are affecting particular industries’ staff.
By May 2017, the average weekly pay was 0.5% lower than the same time a year earlier after inflation was taken into account; however, there have been significant ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in terms of changes in salary over the past five years.
The huge disparity in pay fluctuations for different sectors are due to a variety of factors, including privatisation, unionisation and skills shortages. So, who are the winners and losers according to the BBC’s analysis of pay data collected by HMRC?
At the top of the winners’ list by a considerable margin are air traffic controllers, who have seen a 54% boost in their wages between 2011 and 2016. This is most likely due to the huge increase in the use of commercial flights and cheap air fares. Meanwhile taxi drivers, rubber process operatives and electronics engineers have also climbed to near the top of the list, with 35–44% increases in wages since 2011.
Skills shortages are currently costing British businesses over £2 billion a year, in the form of increased salaries, recruitment costs and temporary staff, so it’s no wonder that salaries have increased in sectors that are trying to lure in talented employees.
At the other end of the scale, however, certain professions have seen a significant decrease in wages. The hardest hit are complementary medicine practitioners with a -22% wage decrease since 2011. Other sectors who have seen significant reductions are probation officers, advertising account managers and radiographers. Some of these decreases can be accredited to the 2010 public sector pay cap and how, within the NHS, more experienced members are retiring and promotion is slowing for less-experienced, lower-paid staff.
Recruiters are bound to be concerned by these latest findings, particularly when trying to find candidates for roles within the decreased wage category. However, there are some measures that recruiters and employers can take to ensure staff don’t feel underappreciated.
It may sound obvious, but plenty of employers forget to praise their staff for their hard work. Whether it’s a particular project, event or simply something you think they handled well: let them know. A handwritten thank you note or a private conversation with the person will let them know you value their work and will have a lasting impact on your employees. Keep it personal so that it comes across as genuine, so try to avoid generic emails or general thank you cards, as these will make it seem like an obligation rather than a spontaneous gesture.
Assigning an employee with greater responsibility is the best way of showing them they are a trusted and valued member of staff. Allowing them a level of autonomy on decision-making or leading important projects and tasks will show them you believe they are up to the challenge. If they handle this well, they will feel they have a chance of progression when the next promotion opportunity arises. Make sure your most valued employees have a place to move up to, so that they can stay motivated.
Creating open communication between employees and management is invaluable to encourage more employee engagement. The more engaged members of staff are ultimately the happier ones, who feel appreciated, are more productive and, perhaps most importantly, are loyal to the business. Building a culture of transparency includes fostering a sense of community and shared purpose towards a common goal, which means employees need to understand the link between their everyday job and the overall vision of the company.
- Benefits and perks
While extravagant perks won’t be possible for every company, it’s important not to underestimate how much of a role benefits and perks can play in keeping employees engaged. Healthcare cover and paid sick leave are always well-received, but additional perks such as flexible work hours or working from home now and again can make the world of difference to employees.
- Ask for feedback
Asking employees for feedback and then acting upon it is one of the best ways to show that you value their opinion. Encouraging staff to ask questions and contribute during meetings is a great way to receive feedback but one-on-one conversations and even anonymous questionnaires can be valuable too.
- Continued training
On-the-job training and continued education allows employees to feel more confident in their role. Investing in their training and future will make them feel valued and provide an incentive for them to stay, while making them better at their jobs which will, in turn, benefit your company.
Darren Diamond is CEO of Do You Want A Job (DYWAJ)