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New Zealand Salary Survey released

1 June 2005

New Zealand Salary Survey released: How does your pay rate?

The 2005 Hays Salary Survey, detailing typical salaries for a range of sectors and locations, including Auckland and Wellington, will be released tommorrow.

The survey, which covers 14 employment sectors and hundreds of job roles, found 60 per cent of employers increased salaries by 3-6 per cent and 27 per cent increased by up to 3 per cent. Some 11 per cent of employers raised salaries by 6-10 per cent and 2 per cent lifted salaries by more than 10 per cent.

However the specialist recruiter’s survey shows that salary increases over the past 12 months have been restrained considering the level of skills shortages prevalent.

Jason Walker, General Manager of Hays in New Zealand, says: “Our survey clearly shows the scarcity of labour has yet to have a significant impact on salaries. Certainly employers are, for the most part, becoming more realistic about the skills shortages, however their focus up to this point has been on benefits or career progression to attract and retain the right person rather than dramatic salary increases.”

While the market overall was restrained, there were individual exceptions. The big winners in terms of salary increases over the past financial year were: Accountancy & Finance: Financial Controllers in Auckland, Management Accountants and Systems Accountants in Wellington and Payroll. Tax and Risk in the Profession. Banking: Branch staff. Office Support: Specialist areas such as Property & Construction support, Legal and Banking & Finance support. Contact Centres: General Manager Customer Service, National Manager Customer Service, Project Manager, Workforce Planner and Telesales Outbound. Human Resources: HR Consultant/Adviser. Legal: Lawyers with 2 years’ post admission experience through to Senior Associates. Information Technology: WAN Voice/Comms Engineer, Solutions & Enterprise Architect, Security Consultant, Unix Consultant, Data Warehouse Consultant, Project Manager, Project/Program Director, Systems Analyst and management roles. Construction & Property: Town/urban planners, Civil & Structural Project Engineers and Construction Civil Project Engineers. Resources & Mining: Strong salary increases for all roles in the industry.

The following key trends were noted in the salary survey:

Accountancy & Finance: The creation of new roles reinforced the buoyancy of the market as employers sought to secure candidates while business confidence and the market remained strong. The availability of candidates did not meet the level of vacancy activity, and there was a shortage of candidates with not just suitable skills, but local experience. Candidate demand led to wage growth in some key areas and locations in the market. Bonuses were more prevalent as employers sought accountability for results and were keen to reward good performances. The hotspots for positions in demand surround the increased requirements of compliance legislation, with the emphasis more likely to be on roles that support the senior managers leading these projects rather than in roles responsible for driving the changes. Specialist areas such as payroll and credit control are key shortage areas. Within the profession, audit and business services candidates, practice accountants and candidates with over three years experience in a chartered firm are highly sought after.

Banking: Demand in residential lending cooled while corporate and business banking increased with business development professionals in demand. Increased activity in investment banking impacted salaries. Wealth management grew and demand for qualified planners is high. Demand for analysts is strong, particularly in risk.

Insurance: Relative stability in the insurance market allowed companies to focus on process improvement, cost control and sales development. A drain of talent overseas impacted labour supply. The Liability insurance market continues to grow and suitably skilled candidates are in very short supply. Experienced and trained underwriters remain in short supply as do claims assessors, particularly in the life sector.

Office Support: Increased value recognition of office support positions to the whole of the company saw organisations appointing more highly skilled and credentialed employees. Increased demand for a highly skilled workforce led candidates to continuously focus on enhancing skill sets, which led to salary increases. Demand is strong for highly skilled and experienced senior administrative candidates such as personal assistants and executive assistants, office or administrative management candidates and in specialist areas.

Contact Centres: Low unemployment, high demand for skilled staff and the migration of more specialist roles into the contact centre has begun to impact service levels within many centres. The immediate impact of a reduction on service levels has been, in many cases, addressed by the introduction or expansion of the use of temporary staff and for many organisations, long-term temporary staff. There were no significant salary shifts but the market is more salary competitive due to skill shortages.

Human Resources: Within larger organisations, an increased number of permanent and temporary vacancies dictated the creation or expansion of in-house recruitment functions to handle the volume of vacancy activity. Remuneration and Benefits candidates, recruitment specialists, strong OH&S candidates and HR Generalists are in demand. L&D professionals at the $70,000 - $120,000 level are also in demand.

Sales & Marketing: Boutique specialisation resulted in the creation of new positions focused on areas of expertise, requiring candidates with specific skill sets. Specialist demand exists for: Creative Directors in advertising; marketing professionals in Financial Services, IT&T, Professional Services and Government sectors; market segment specific Brand Managers, Analysts and National Account Managers in FMCG; business development professionals in the Industrial sector. Of course there always will be a need for generalist sales & marketing skills.

Legal: Overseas firms looking to recruit quality local lawyers are heating up the “war for talent”. Lawyers with 2 years’ PAE through to Senior Associates remain in strongest demand. The in-house market remains stable.

Information Technology: Optimism again entered the IT recruitment market, translating into strong and steady growth. Previously static salaries started to rise nationally, although they are still short of dot-com boom salaries. Renewed investment in projects and “system refreshers” drove high demand for certain IT skills. Candidate shortages are numerous, however undergraduate intakes during the last boom should lessen most of these.

Construction & Property: Building, property & engineering markets continued apace but acute skills shortages are evident. Skills shortages did not lead to large salary increases with most rises instead in line with inflation.

Resources & Mining: The huge upswing in global demand for minerals and energy products underpinned one of the strongest years on record for the resources sector. This produced strong salary increases for everyone involved in the industry. With the focus turned onto retention, there was a general improvement in employment conditions, including bonuses, share incentives, better hours, better facilities and improved residential accommodation. There is no doubt that the industry is experiencing a critical skills crisis.

The Salary Survey reveals future salary increases are expected, with 61 per cent of employers intending to increase salaries in their next review by 3 to 6 per cent. “We can only caution that pressure on salaries is still likely to occur, but with a longer lead time and possibly to a more restrained extent than in previous cycles,” said Jason. “As with all markets, demand is the driving force and as we are under much broader global influence than ever before, the extent of increases will depend on factors outside our region as well as events closer to home.”

Jason warns the current market calls for modifications in recruitment processes. “The pressure is now increasingly on employers and recruiters alike to adjust their approach to potential candidates and be more proactive in their recruitment efforts,” he said. “This includes retaining a certain level of flexibility when it comes to a candidate’s experience. In light of skills shortages, employers should consider a candidate’s potential, not just their experience. A candidate with less experience than an employer’s initial prerequisite can, after training, thoroughly perform the role’s requirements and are a viable option to consider. Employers could also be more open-minded about industry-specific experience. If a candidate has the skills required, proven through previous employment, but lacks experience in a certain industry, they are still capable of filling the vacancy. This flexibility is a critical feature in successful employment in the current market.

“As employers increase their efforts to recruit staff, they will also increase their attempts to retain staff,” said Jason. “We would not be surprised to see an increase in counter offers in the next twelve months, despite the fact that the success of this strategy is rare!”

The Hays Salary Survey shows that for 35 per cent of employers who counter-offered staff, the staff member left anyway. In 26 per cent of cases the employee stayed less than 12 months.

This year, we have expanded the coverage of our Salary Survey to include Resources & Mining.

To view the Hays Salary Survey, visit

The Salary Survey is based on a survey of more than 1,700 respondents from SME to large multinational organisations across Australia and New Zealand and on Hays’ specialist placements made over the last 12 months.


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