We have just finalised our salary survey of 326 assistant buyers; buyers; senior buyers; procurement managers; supply chain managers; senior procurement / supply chain managers; and Heads of Procurement / Supply Chain within the construction, infrastructure, house building or building services sectors in the UK and some of the trends make for an interesting read.
Respondents’ future plans and primary motivations
The percentage of candidates actively looking for a new role has increased 7% since last year to 27%, however their priorities are shifting. Responding to this January’s survey, 83% of candidates identified ‘commute, travel and flexible working’ as a top 3 factor when considering a move. This is up from 72% in our January 2023 survey and means that it has leapfrogged basic salary (81% in 2024 up from 79% in 2023) to become the most commonly cited factor.
Home working benefits
The apparent increase in importance of work-life balance is likely to rub up against one of the survey’s other key year-on-year shifts i.e. employers pushing to get staff back into the office and on-site after many employees became accustomed to (and redesigned their daily patterns around) working from home during COVID. While according to our January 2023 survey 23% of respondents had fewer than two days per week working from home, this year that figure has almost doubled to 41%! Or to put it another way, in our 2023 survey the average number of days employees had working from home was 2.22 and this year that has dropped to 1.91. Although the shift back to the office suggests that organisations feel that remote working was having a negative impact on productivity, a lack of flexible working options may have a detrimental impact on the ability of employers to attract and retain the best talent.
Secondary factors influencing moves
However, there are indications that the market doesn’t favour candidates as strongly as it has in recent years, meaning employers won’t need to be as accommodating as they once were. With 40% of candidates citing job security as a top three consideration for their next move (up from 38% twelve months ago), it is reasonable to infer that there is a degree of angst about the prospect of redundancies in the short to medium term across the industry. Combine the prospect of a reduction in opportunities with increasing numbers of candidates looking to move in the year ahead and the employers’ position strengthens somewhat compared with much of the last ten years.
Fears for job security are not however causing candidates to batten down the hatches as can be the case in times of economic upheaval, and ‘career progression and training’ was one of the top three factors 34% respondents said they would prioritise when considering a move, suggesting that they continue to feel there are opportunities for development out there.
Of course, in any salary survey it isn’t possible to give a detailed analysis tailored to every candidate’s or employer’s situation. The dynamics are across the industry and for different roles vary enormously, so it is worth speaking with us to get a more nuanced understanding of your specific situation.
Salaries and remuneration
Irrespective of whether or not we are moving towards a more employer-led market, the continuing rise in salaries indicates that retention remains a priority for most companies. Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents received a pay rise in 2023, up from 66% in 2022. While the average rise may have been smaller this year (5.3% in the 2024 survey v 6% in 2023) it exceeded the Office for National Statistics’ reported cost of living increase by 1.1%, whereas in 2023 with inflation at 11.1% employees would have been on average worse off.
Remuneration is not all about basic salary however and benefits such as bonus and company car/ car allowance make a significant impact to overall packages at all levels. At assistant buyer level 44% of candidates enjoy a car or a car allowance on average worth 18% of average basic salary. At Supply Chain Manager and Senior Procurement / Supply Chain Manager level, 94% receive either a car or car allowance with an average value of between 7.5 and 9% of salary.
Bonuses can add a further significant contribution to total salary package. Almost a third of Heads of Procurement/Supply Chain received a performance bonus last year, with the payout averaging 20% of basic. Although at more junior levels the percentage of employees entitled to performance bonuses may be lower, e.g. only 15% of buyers receive a performance bonus, discretionary bonuses are common and not included in our survey.
So what does, all this mean for candidates and employers? The negotiating positions of employer and employee are more balanced than they have been in some time. And although there is a slight skittishness to the market, there are plenty of candidates willing to move, especially if employers are able to find working patterns that flex around candidates’ needs.