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Are you earning enough?

Despite many PAs enjoying a modest increase to their salary in 2017, employees are still unhappy with their monthly income. Hays outlines its recent 2018 UK Salary and Recruitment guide and what PA professionals are looking for from their employers

As employees start the year afresh, the hope of a wage increase becomes ever more prominent in the New Year. With wages for PA and secretarial roles rising by a modest 0.7 per cent during 2017, it seems the industry is off to a promising start.

According to the Hays UK Salary and Recruiting Trends 2018 guide, nearly half of PAs and secretarial professionals say that their pay has increased over the past 12 months, while 52 per cent expect an increase in pay for the year ahead.

Despite this employees are feeling dissatisfied with their earnings, as Hays’ findings show that 58 per cent of PA and secretarial staff are unhappy with their salaries, making it the main reason why some are planning to leave their job over the next year.

It seems that regionally, London saw the highest average pay increase in 2017, at 2.2 per cent, followed by South West England at 2.1 per cent and North West at 1.3 per cent.

Even with these steady pay increases, two-thirds of employers are planning on increasing salaries throughout 2018.

“Despite the ongoing political and economic uncertainty, 62 per cent of all office support employers anticipate activity levels will increase in 2018, which is marginally above the overall UK average (59 per cent),” Roddy Adair, director of Hays office support and PA secretarial, tells PA Life.

“As a result of this anticipated increase in business activity levels, 68 per cent are planning to recruit.”

49% of PAs say their pay has increased over the last 12 months

Balance is key

While salaries have proven to be a main priority, work-life balance has been named the most important factor to employees when looking for a new job, ranking it at 28 per cent. This was closely followed by job security and location at 19 and 14 per cent, respectively.

Currently, over two-thirds of PA professionals rate their work-life balance as very good, compared to 56 per cent as a UK average.

Meanwhile, flexible working options are continuing to rise, with part-time hours and flexitime a favourite for many employees. According to Hays, over a third say they would change their flexible working options in order to improve their work-life balance, with 18 per cent also wanting to change their working hours.

Climbing the career ladder

Career progression is a crucial factor to ensure employees remain productive and engaged within the workplace. Without professional growth many workers can become dissatisfied and ultimately bored by their role – leading to resignations. It’s no surprise then that along with salary and benefit packages, 27 per cent of professionals say the main reason for wanting to leave their role is due to a lack of future opportunities.

“Acute skills shortages continue to put pressure on workforces. While this is not good news for employers, it means that talented candidates can set themselves apart to businesses eager to recruit the best and brightest,” continues Adair.

“Skills shortages are so acute in the world of office support that 21 per cent of employers do not feel they have the talent needed to complete current business objectives, and 57 per cent think they will face a shortage of suitable candidates when recruiting staff over the next 12 months.”

Additionally, 40 per cent feel there is scope for career progression within their current role, demonstrating how much employers need to work harder to implement clear career paths and training opportunities.

Adair enthuses: “In such a skills short environment, organisations need to consider how they can attract talent in order to remain competitive. They will need to look at other ways aside from salaries to attract the skills needed, increasing opportunities for career and personal development, which employees tell us they are looking for in new roles.

“Employers can review their benefits offerings, as our results show a mismatch between what employees are looking for and what employers are providing.”

58% of PAs are unhappy with their salaries

Looking ahead

For 2018, PA and secretarial employers will be on the look out for candidates with a specialist skill set. Hays’ 2018 findings suggest that businesses will be on the look out for workers who boast both relationship and management skills.

A specialist focus is also key to finding the ideal employee. PAs and secretaries who have specific industry experience will continue to be in demand, as well as those who have specific function experience such as HR, reports Hays.

Those who set themselves apart from the competition by demonstrating an understanding of the responsibilities and challenges of different teams, as well as being involved in all sorts of aspects of the business from budgeting to planning, will stand out from the crowd.

Lastly, employees who showcase the ability to be flexible and proactive to tasks will be recognised by a business.

“Organisations are looking for someone who is willing to go above and beyond the job specification – ideally who can proactively solve problems and identify new solutions,” concludes Hays.