If you believe the Reserve Bank, wages are increasing at the fastest rate seen in several years and the economy is rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RBA says that if wages keep increasing we could see lower unemployment rates and annual wage growth may increase to 3% by the end of 2023, which is up from today’s rate of 1.7%.

Lawyers, accountants and management consultants are at the top of the salary chart and were closely followed by construction and hospitality workers at an increase of 2.6% and 2.5% respectively. The increases were attributed to the closed international border causing skills shortages.

Overall wages increased 2.2% in the 12 months to 30 September, which was a return to pre-pandemic levels

Trouble is, those rises are below the inflation rate of 3% which means that workers actually got a pay cut in real terms. And no-one is buying the RBA’s rosy view of the future.

Shadow Treasurer, Mr Jim Chalmers accused the government of leaving workers behind whereas Australia Industry Group CEO Mr Innes Willox said that there was no evidence of significant wage movement.

Hudson’s annual employment survey found that 35% of employees plan to stay in their current roles and do not intend to look for new employment and of those surveyed, fewer than a third of employees are currently looking for a new job.

The future looks bleak if you were hoping for a pay rise, with 67% of respondents saying that they had not received a pay increase in the last six months and half saying that their ability to negotiate their salary is the same post-COVID as it was pre-COVID.

How does your salary compare?

Well, that depends on what industry you are in, with some industries reporting stronger growth than others.

If you’re in the finance sector you could be in for a pay increase with Hudson’s survey showing that 35.78% of employers in Australia and NZ have reported a slight decrease in the number of candidates applying for jobs and 56.88% planning to hire more staff over the next six months.

The human resources sector doesn’t have as much confidence with 51.85% of employers reporting a decrease in the number of job applications and only 54% planning to increase their headcount.

Prospects are good for anyone in the construction industry, with 65% of employers wanting to increase their headcount over the next six months. The average salary for construction workers is $125,440.

With COVID-19 resulting in changes to how people work, the sector has shown strong growth and only 34% of employers in the IT sector are reporting a struggle to find new staff. Meanwhile 65% plan to hire over the next six months.

Similar to the IT sector, COVID has led to changes within business support, with 15.43% of employers saying that candidates are looking for flexibility. 57% of business support employers plan to hire new staff in the next six months and only 5% plan to reduce their headcount.

Employers in the risk and compliance field are optimistic with 56% intending to hire more staff and 7% intending to downsize in the next six months.

Just over a third (39%) of project services employers have said that fewer candidates are applying for jobs and 59% plan to increase their headcount over the next six months.

Just over 50% (59%) of employers are looking to recruit new executives, with 10% planning to downsize.

It appears as though the industries with the lowest wages are administration, business support and accounts payable/accounts receivable.

The Washington Post reported earlier in the year that the low wages are related to supply and demand, scalability, diamond-water paradox (value of diamonds vs water – customer service staff are easy to find whereas other employees are not) and power differential which is the value of a person’s skills.

Recruitment agency, Robert Walters expects accounting and finance to be in demand in 2022, with Director of Robert Walters, Sydney, Mr John Meehan saying, “In 2022, Finance Business Partners will be in demand as organisations look to hire professionals with a blend of commercial and analytical experience such as, Financial/Business Analysts, and Financial Planning & Analysts.”

The technology sector has been an area of high growth.

“Specifically in areas such as Cyber Security where the acceleration of online business operations and adoption of cloud-based software continues to increase demand for cyber experts. DevOps engineers-  across contract and permanent positions. In particular – Hybrid Cloud, AWS, Azure, Kubernetes – Scripting, Powershell and Bash. There will be more demand for high skilled contracting for all of these skills because candidates want to reap the rewards of both interesting projects and high daily rates. 

“Nationally we expect to see lawyers with transactional skills and experience in high demand as a surge in M&A activity and development projects drive increased needs for legal support. We also expect to see large increases in salaries in the 3 to 8years PQE bracket as firms move to pre-emptively retain talent which in turn will inflate required salaries to attract talent,” Mr Meehan concludes.

How to ask your boss for a pay rise

It’s always tricky asking your boss for a pay increase, especially right after a pandemic but if you go in prepared then you can get what you want. Robert Walters have shared their eight tips for successfully negotiating a pay increase before Christmas.

1 – What’s the worst that could happen?

Recruitment agency, Robert Walters says that before you enter negotiations you should ask yourself what the worst that could happen is. It’s natural to be scared of rejection but if you approach the negotiations with the right attitude you will impress your boss.

2 – Go in prepared

Before your boss commits to paying you more money they will want to know that you are worth the extra investment. Reflect on how you added value to the business over the last year and collate evidence that shows you performed above your job description. Provide details of the positive impact you’ve had on the team, the business and the finances.

3 – Go in armed with knowledge

Before you go into the meeting you should have a good idea of what you’re worth and what you’re currently missing out on. Don’t negotiate for the sake of it. Have a purpose in mind.

4 – Practice before the meeting

Do a role plan with someone you trust so you have an idea of what you intend to say in the meeting and to give you confidence.

5 – Don’t make it personal

Imagine that you’re advocating for a third person. Ask yourself how much someone else in that job should be earning given the type of company they work for and the budget the company has.

6 – Pick your timing

Don’t ask for a pay increase just after staff have been made redundant or after you’ve made a mistake with a project. The best time to ask for a pay increase is either after an achievement at work or when you’re having your annual review.

7 – Remain focused

Call a specific meeting about your remuneration. Don’t add the discussion onto another meeting and don’t go off on a tangent.

8 – Learn how to negotiate

You don’t need to be a brilliant negotiator to secure a better deal. You just need to master a few things:

  • Listening
  • Acknowledge and respond to objections – Ask questions regarding timing and budgets if your request is denied.
  • Pace yourself
  • Embrace the silence – it’s a well known sales technique that the first person who speaks loses, so embrace the silence.
  • Expand what you want – ask for more than what you want so that you are likely to meet in the middle and get what you actually want.
  • Think about the offer – Even if you get what you want, don’t accept the agreement immediately. Think about it overnight.
  • Consider your options – If you don’t get what you want then give yourself time to think about your response.

Regardless of the outcome, you should always end positively by showing appreciation for the time that you’ve been given. If on reflection you’re still not happy with the outcome give yourself time to look for another job if you decide that’s your best option.

*Data taken from Hudson’s 2021 Salary Guide.

Industry Salary
Accounting and finance $101,071
Human resources $103,635
Construction and operations $125,441
Operations technology $112,533
Data analytics $129,887
Digital $118,704
Enterprise technology $134,603
Administration $76,744
Business support $76,744
Accounts payable/Accounts receivable $72,930
Executive assistant/Reception $94,522
Customer support $94,522
Risk and compliance $144,211
Project services and transformation $134,100
Executive $202,895

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