UK reward market update 2022

Author Nick Arnold
June 30, 2022

Despite living in uncertain times with soaring inflation and economists predicting the prospect of a recession, for the first time in May, vacancies across the UK outstripped the number of people seeking work. The unemployment rate continues to trend down but, conversely, job vacancies across the UK continue to rise up to record levels. The reward market is no different; we are witnessing one of the busiest periods we’ve ever experienced, with a strong recovery post-Covid and high vacancy numbers. As we race past the halfway point in Q2, the trends from last year show no sign of slowing.

Despite Q1 typically being a quieter time in the reward market (due to year-end commitments) vacancy volumes continued to rise, tipping further the imbalance between roles vs candidates and increasing the challenges for companies to acquire their talent. It will be interesting to see if the cost-of-living squeeze starts to motivate inactive candidates to reassess their current roles and pay, especially as we exit a period of bonus pay-outs.

Widely published market informationsuch as inflation means candidates are looking for increased compensation and benefits, and we’re certainly seeing early signs of more reward candidates popping their heads above the surface to see what options are available to them. To retain talent, companies are increasing fixed salaries and variable pay awards and we are also seeing an increased number of promotions and counter offers.

As a team we’ve been busier than ever across the total reward landscape, with both reward, compensation and benefits and specialist compensation roles being recruited at record levels, extending to people analytics and HRIS. There is a good balance of hiring activity across all sectors and job levels.

We witnessed a key early trend at the beginning of the pandemic; a number of clients realised they hadn’t invested in robust SaaS based solutions for their people data management and reporting, leading to a fast rise in HRIS roles of all grades as well as implementation experts as large-scale transformation/replacement projects were brought forward. Companies have realised the importance of workforce visualisation and performance metrics to capture employee information to deliver real time, evidence-based people decisions. Because of this, digital transformation and HRIS/HR analytics teams continue to receive significant investment from businesses.

The one area yet to recover is global mobility, which is still massively behind the other sectors in terms of hiring volume and general market activity. It will be interesting to see how the traditional assignee model develops as we move into a Covid endemic world.  

The particular pain points for those wishing to hire within reward are certainly within the analyst/senior analyst grade, as candidates are becoming increasingly hard to secure with salaries shifting upwards to c.£50k for a couple of years’ reward experience.

And finally, the topic that continues to dominate…agile working! Who offers it, who doesn’t and how many days, are always the first questions we get asked, leading us to conclude that agile working is here to stay. Companies not aligning with the new agile environment will face an uphill struggle to secure and retain top talent.

Our market leading reward function recruits for roles across compensation and benefits, HRIS, HR analytics and global mobility. If you have any specific questions on the reward market, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with our specialist reward team. If you have any hiring needs or are open to exploring new opportunities in reward then we would love to hear from you for a confidential discussion about your plans.

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