NZ professionals bullish about 2016 remuneration prospects

Almost 60% of respondents received salary increases in 2015, and 31% bagged bonuses, survey finds - with special audio feature.

Click the NBR Radio box for on-demand special feature audio: James Dalrymple on NZ professionals’ pay and bonus expectations

Business confidence and a relatively buoyant economy translated into more New Zealand professionals receiving salary increases and bonuses in 2015 than in recent years, with the expectation of more of the same next year.

That’s one of the key findings of Robert Walters’ annual survey of NZ professionals’ pay and bonus expectations, which is released today. [See Raw Data below]

The survey involved 500 respondents – largely from Auckland and Wellington – from the accounting, banking, financial services, human resources, information technology, procurement, supply chain, sales, marketing, and secretarial and business support professions.

Of those surveyed, 59% received a salary increase in 2015, and 31% received a bonus payment on top of their base salary, according to James Dalrymple, a partner in the recruitment firm.

And, he tells NBR Radio, 75% of those surveyed in Auckland expect salary increases next year, as opposed to 65% in Wellington. More Auckland-based professionals (49%) also expect bonuses in 2016 versus just 23% of those in Wellington – a differential that’s largely down to the fact the Wellington market is driven by SOEs, Mr Dalrymple says.

The anticipated salary increases are modest, however: “35% of respondents were expecting increases of 1-3% and only 7.5% expecting an increase over 7.5%.”

That’s offset by an increased focus on the part of both employers and employees on the total remuneration package.

“We’re certainly seeing a lot of businesses that aren’t in a position to offer significant salary increases so they’re being more creative about how they package up benefits,” he says.

For employees, “what’s also becoming more important is work/life balance, flexibility, those sorts of things ... people are looking at the total package quite holistically.”

Money isn’t the key driver for changing jobs, either. Instead, career progression is most important (36%), followed by a pay rise/change in salary package (30.5%), improved work/life balance (20.5%) and improved stability/job security (13%).

Managing expectations is key
Mr Dalrymple also warns that, although employees increasingly like the idea of some financial rewards being tied to their performance in the form of bonuses – and they’re being offered to more employees than just middle and senior managers – if these aren’t managed well they can have negative consequences.

“Often we find candidates will come to us after they’ve been paid their bonus and they’re disgruntled because it’s less than they thought it would be, they didn’t get a salary increase and there’s been no communication throughout the year about why that might be – and it was poorly communicated when it was delivered.”

Instead of the once traditional annual performance review – or even quarterly sit-downs – Mr Dalrymple advises companies manage bonus expectations, and employees in general, by adopting a model of “constant open dialogue in a less formal manner and ensuring it’s an open, honest, transparent relationship.”

RAW DATA:

Salary and bonus expectations survey overview

Accounting survey results

HR survey results

IT survey results

Sales and marketing results

Secretarial and business support results

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