Why we’re talking about . . .

‘Bidding wars’: the fight for staff 

Companies are raising the salary stakes in order to attract and retain talent 

Since the UK economy fully reopened in July last year a record number of job vacancies have been advertised as companies scrambled to meet demand. In the three months to November, UK job vacancies hit an all-time high of 1.219m and the number “continues to increase across most industries”, the Office for National Statistics said in its latest snapshot. 

Power in the jobs market has now “shifted from employers to employees”, The Big Issue reported. With job vacancies at record levels, there’s never been a better time to think about making a career change.

Companies are fighting hard to “hold on to their best staff” and many are raising salaries, The Guardian said. According to the 2022 UK Salary Guide by recruitment firm Robert Walters, senior professionals can expect pay increases of up to 25% in the first quarter of 2022 and experienced staff on salaries of £80,000 and above are “already beginning to enjoy rises of £20,000 a year or more”, the paper added. Firms are “under pressure to ramp up pay rates” for existing staff to “prevent them quitting for a rival”.

Speaking to the BBC, Robert Walters’s chief financial officer Alan Bannatyne said staff in many UK industries were quitting for better paid jobs amid soaring demand. There is “fierce competition for talent” and it is “incredibly hard to find the right people”, he said. “Unless something significant happens, 2022 should be even better for staff.”

As firms look to retain talent by raising salaries, Bannatyne said “15% is the minimum” he is seeing, but some companies are increasing salaries “by up to 50%”. 

‘Inflation-busting pay rises’

Lawyers could be set for “inflation-busting pay rises” this year as firms “desperately try to hold onto top talent”, The Law Society Gazette said. Pent-up demand and a shortage of staff will see lawyers’ wages rise across the board. Robert Walters revealed it had placed graduate lawyers on starting salaries as high as £150,000.

The “hunt for talent” extends further down the pay scales, The Guardian said. And professional services companies are budgeting for a wage bill increase of between 10% and 15% – the “largest increase seen since 2008 and almost three times the inflation rate”.

Irish salaries set to surge

Workers in Ireland will be offered pay hikes of up to 20% as employers “become locked in bidding wars to attract talent”, The Irish Independent reported. And a shortage of skilled staff in some high-demand sectors means “salaries are set to surge”. 

Recruitment agency Morgan McKinley believes a “great resignation” is under way in Ireland and 82% of Irish professionals are considering a career move in the next six to 12 months. According to the Morgan McKinley Irish Salary Guide 2022, there is a lack of competition from international talent and this has been a factor in the upward pressure on wages.

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