Senior HR reaps benefits of boom

A dramatic rise in HR positions has pushed salaries to an all time
high.  The industry is also confident it
will weather any economic storm. 
Richard Staines reports

The demand for senior HR professionals has never been higher than in the
past year as the salaries they can command rise and the number of jobs in the
sector increase.

Research by Salary Survey Publications shows that HR is a growing area with
a third more jobs advertised in the sector over the last 12 months than in the
previous year.

Figures reveal that since last year the number of HR director level jobs
advertised increased by 11.2 per cent from 456 in the year to March 2000 to 507
in the year to March 2001.

Average advertised salaries increased from £61,100 to £69,420, although HR
directors are often paid much more than this because of their overall benefits
package and can demand salaries far in excess of those advertised.

At HR manager level, the number of jobs advertised increased even more
dramatically from 2,801 in the year to March 2000 to 3,870 in the year to March
2001 – a rise of 38.2 per cent.

Their average advertised salaries jumped to £38,345, an increase of 5.6 per

Molyneaux, HR systems and strategy adviser at Liverpool’s John Moores
University and the SSP report’s author, says the high numbers of jobs available
can partly be attributed to top HR directors leaving the profession to retire, creating
a vacuum for younger people to fill.

She commented, "I would expect it to level out eventually because the
days when most of the people in the top HR jobs were older are in the past.

"The younger people could stay at the top for a long time, meaning
there could be fewer opportunities to move up."

Molyneaux believes this could account for the high staff turnover in the
profession but adds that an increase in the number of available jobs could be a
factor. "The fact that there is growth could fuel turnover. There has also
been expansion in the recruitment industry, which is another sign of

Recruitment consultant Maureen Convery at HR Personnel Partnership thinks
the rise in HR jobs and pay shows that the HR profession is seen as playing an
increasingly important role.

She added, "It is the flavour of the month and the industry has become
very attractive to young people. They are prepared to accept lower wages at
first and then work their way up – they are fast tracking through their careers
and up the pay scales."

The SSP report’s findings are supported by a recent Development Dimensions
International survey that indicates a 5 per cent rise in HR staff turnover over
the past year to 19 per cent.

Parsons, HR director at the direct marketing company Brann Worldwide told
Personnel Today that experienced HR people use their contacts to find the best
jobs and are more likely to move on faster as a result. He said, "My
perception is that HR is splitting into two groups – there are a lot of places
where it is seen as fairly functional and is a relatively low level experience
for people.

"People in HR are looking for a good experience. As a whole, HR people
are pretty well networked and have a good view of where the good employers –
and where the not so good ones – are.

"But when you are young and coming up through the profession you tend
to take whatever opportunity you get."

The SSP report shows that the biggest players in the HR job market are
electronics/IT and finance. These sectors together with the communications
industry, also tend to pay above the average.

Health service pay levels persist in falling below average for all types of
HR posts. By contrast, the biggest increases in average salary levels over the
past 12 months were in electronics and IT, district councils, communications
and housing.

Reductions in average HR salaries appear to be confined to the relatively
small defence and security industries.

Compensation and benefits managers enjoyed salary increases of 7.3 per cent,
with average advertised salaries at £47,118. The number of these jobs increased
from 167 in the year to March 2000 to 259 in the year to March 2001 – a rise of
55.1 per cent.

Salaries for assistant HR managers and senior HR officers increased by only
2.3 per cent and 2.7 per cent to £26,134 and £25,985 respectively.

Molyneaux is cautious about the impact of the predicted economic downturn in
the UK on continued growth of the HR profession and admits that since the New
Year the HR jobs market has cooled slightly. She said, "Since February
there has been a decrease in the number of jobs advertised – whether this is a
blip or the start of downturn remains to be seen. But nevertheless HR still
looks healthy."

Jonathan Clark, client services director for consultancy Interim Human
Resource Management says HR people will still be in demand even if the downturn
has a significant impact. "They will still be employable irrespective of
whether there is a downturn because HR people will still be required to manage
companies as they downsize," he said.

Salary Survey Publications Report available on 01488 72705

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