Show me the money

Employers are holding the cards in the current climate; wage deflation and bonus suspensions have been widely accepted throughout the sector
Employers are holding the cards in the current climate; wage deflation and bonus suspensions have been widely accepted throughout the sector

Our resident recruitment expert has probed wage bills across the country again this year and for now it looks like employers are holding all the cards



11 March 2009

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Every year for the last eight years, Excel Recruitment has produced a retail industry specific salary and benefit survey.

This compiles accurate and detailed salary information and gives a precise picture of our industry in terms of management salaries, wages and benefits. It is a worthwhile undertaking as it acts as an invaluable guide for our clients and for us over the year when managing costs.

The survey is split in to two categories: management salaries and benefits, and staff wages. From the information gathered for this year’s management salary and benefits survey, we made a few notable observations that we have either never encountered before, or at least not since 2001.

Management wages in decline

Management salaries are stagnant and are in some cases falling. Each year that I have worked in this industry, I have seen an upward shift in management salaries. This has now stopped. The best example is that of the trainee manager. In 2000 we were recruiting inexperienced trainee managers on salary of €20,000. In 2008 we were recruiting the same calibre of candidate for €27,000, this year we have had positions registered at €21,500. This is a shocking example of wage deflation in the industry but what is more shocking is that we are filling the roles. I find this encouraging after observing client companies wrestle with staff and management wages over the last number of years.

Other notable changes we have found have been bonuses. Management bonuses were always performance related, based on specific KPI’s that were usually agreed annually, such as measured sales growth, stock loss, waste control, margin management and the achievement of an applied cost structure. Once a real tool to motivate and retain management, performance related bonuses, although still in place, are not being paid, because KPI’s are obviously not being met.

Bonuses and benefits foregone

The same cannot be said for staff bonuses. In some case’s staff bonuses have morphed in to just another part of the wage packet, expected and relied upon. Some retailers paid full Christmas bonuses last year, some 75%. At the end of this year however, I would be surprised if any are paid at all.

Another complete change that has occurred is in benefits. During the last number of years, pension, life assurance, health insurance, educational assistance all became an important part of the overall management package. However, cash is now king. Candidates are not interested in benefits, they are interested in salaries.

We are confident that both candidates and companies can benefit from this change as companies move more towards cost control and cost cutting measures and due to falling rates of inflation candidates should be able to live nearly as comfortably as before despite the change in income.

Excel Recruitment Salary Survey 2009: The main points

The survey was conducted at random from a sample of 500 employees from across the retail sector. In respect of compensation and benefits the main findings were:

22%    of permanent management employees received an increase in salary in the last 12 months
85%    of those got a 0 to 5% increase
15%    of those got a 5 to 10% increase
82%    of permanent employees surveyed receive discounted healthcare insurance
50%    of those surveyed receive subsidised pensions
9%      of employees surveyed are part of a share option scheme
5%      of those questioned are part of a profit sharing scheme

In respect of employee satisfaction and attitudes:

65% of permanent employees are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, while only 35% are dissatisfied
30% of permanent employees believe healthcare insurance and pension are the most attractive benefits on top of salary
30% think bonus is important, but 20% think flexi-time and overtime is most important. Other attractive benefits mentioned were mobile phones and extra holidays
80% of permanent employees said that job satisfaction, training and promotion motivates them in the workplace. 10% believes money is a great motivator and also 10% of those surveyed said a good team environment was a factor
10% of permanent employees surveyed receive educational assistance



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