Pay growth slows as HR profession feels pinch

HR practitioners experienced a fall in take-home pay in real terms over the past 12 months, according to exclusive research.

The Salary Survey of HR/Personnel Staff, by XpertHR Job Pricing – powered by Personnel Today’s sister company, salary survey specialist Celre – showed that their average increase in total earnings for the year to 1 September 2008 was 4.4% – the lowest increase in at least five years.

In contrast, inflation over the same period, measured by the retail price index, stood at 5%.

The survey of 94 organisations, covering 6,764 employees, showed that the movement in basic salaries for HR practitioners had fallen from 5.4% in 2007, to 4.8% in 2008. It also showed that the movement in their total earnings (basic salary plus bonuses) had also decreased, from 6.8% in 2007, to 4.4% in this year’s survey.

This means that the median total earnings of an HR director in 2008 stood at £170,362, while their median basic salary was £125,000. Function heads received median total earnings of £88,500, and basic median salaries of £77,625.

At the other end of the scale, HR assistants earned £22,089 in median total earnings this year, with a median basic salary of £21,000. And clerical staff earned median total earnings of £17,077, and basic median salaries of £16,000.

Some of the largest salary increases went to staff working in reward and management and employee benefits (6%). The smallest pay increases went to those working in management development (3.5%) and resource planning (3%).

Despite being conducted before the onset of the economic downturn, the survey indicated signs of a slowdown.

Labour turnover rates have fallen, with resignation rates decreasing from 7.4% in 2007, to 4.5% in 2008. The number of employers reporting retention problems in HR had also fallen from 76.1% in 2007 to 55.8% this year. And employers forecast a median pay increase at their next review of just 3.5%.

In terms of employee benefits, the survey also found that the median value of the benefits package (including pensions, car allowances, and annual leave above the statutory minimum, plus bank holidays) was 25% of salary for HR managers, 19% for HR professionals, and 15.5% for clerical employees.

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