Pay Trends 2019 – your essential update

During our recent Pay Trends Roadshows, Innecto surveyed approximately 150 HR and Reward professionals in Bristol, Birmingham and London about their most pressing challenges in 2019. We asked them to choose their top priority from a list, and then discussed the reasoning behind it. Here are the results, averaged out across all locations. 

Deborah Rees-Frost

For more detail on 2019’s top trends, you can download our Pay Trends white paper here. It’s completely free, but you’ll need to register as a subscriber first to gain access. 

Attracting & retaining talent – 37 per cent
Our top result is unsurprising, given record levels of employment and a competitive candidates’ market. Talent retention was a particular source of concern in London, with an average of 45 per cent of respondents there placing this as their top priority. Arguably twas ever thus, given the capital’s high concentration of attractive employers in such close proximity. 

However, around 30 per cent of respondents in Bristol and Birmingham also chose this as their top option, suggesting that attracting top talent remains a struggle across the country. Many attendees also reported having to offer a 10-12 per cent increase on the previous incumbent’s salary to attract a suitable replacement. 

Maximising value of Reward – 25 per cent
This challenge scored consistently highly across all our locations. It’s worth noting that many attendees brought up their benefits offer as a source of concern – not distinctive enough, low value for money, the difficulty of pleasing everyone. Maximising your benefits offer is important, but we sometimes have to remind clients that it’s not a silver bullet. 

Improving employee experience – 16 per cent
This challenge scored particularly highly in London, again perhaps due to the extra-tight labour market. Although clearly a priority for our attendees, employee experience is a tricky concept to compare to other organisations, since it includes intangible rewards such as working environment, recognition, and organisational values and behaviours. 

Boosting productivity – 10 per cent
The perennial problem of productivity was in evidence across all our events. What was new this year is that many respondents voiced concern over the (as yet unknown) impact of Brexit on the UK’s economy as well as availability of skilled staff. We discussed how this might affect their ability to deliver on forecasted productivity goals, and possible strategies to mitigate risk. 

Managing minimum wage rises – 4 per cent
The National Living Wage (for employees aged 25 or over) is due to increase to £8.21 an hour in April 2019 – an increase of nearly 5 per cent. This jumps to nearly 10 per cent next year, if the government follows through on its promise to hit £9 an hour by 2020. Either way, it’s a significant pot of money to find, and higher wages at the base of your organisation puts pressure on wage differentials higher up. However, UK businesses have been absorbing similar costs for a few years now, perhaps explaining why this option didn’t rank that highly.  

Addressing gender pay / diversity & inclusion – 5 per cent
This challenge ranked surprisingly low, given the amount of media and public interest in the subject. Many of our attendees confirmed that they’d run their Year 2 numbers already, but were waiting for the right moment to publish. This year’s narrative is much more challenging than the last, given that many organisations have seen their gap stall or even increase. It’s easy to make promises and outline initiatives, but a lack of results in upcoming years may well prompt frustration and female employees voting with their feet.

Other – 4 per cent
Some attendees cited wider trends, such as the changing retail landscape, as their top priority for 2019. 

For more detail on 2019’s top trends, you can download our Pay Trends white paper here. It’s completely free, but you’ll need to register as a subscriber first to gain access. 

The author is Deborah Rees-Frost, CEO at Innecto Reward Consulting.

The article is sponsored by Innecto. 

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