Salary inflation shows no sign of stopping – especially within digital roles


By Lyle Ritchie, Head of Talent Solutions at Head Resourcing

The recruitment market is booming, and experienced candidates are in the driving seat, forcing the hand of employers and pushing salary inflation to eye-watering levels – particularly for highly sought-after digital skillsets.

Unfortunately for businesses, our market intel predicts salaries are on an upward trajectory for digital roles, with the average salaries within software development increasing by 10% every six months. This pressure is felt globally. Martin Ewart, CEO of Taranata Group, recently made a trip to Silicon Valley where he met with several tech leaders. There he saw Mid-level Software Developer roles being advertised up to $300,000. While this is a bit of an anomaly, it demonstrates the trend and demand across the world. 

Many businesses across the UK are in the process of digital transformation which increases the need for experienced individuals who can take on IT, digital and business change roles. However, as is the case for several industries, businesses are experiencing challenges with attracting and retaining staff.

Of course, a ‘simple fix’ of increasing salaries across the board is not always going to be financially viable. This can also incur further knock-on repercussions for the organisation for example, pay-rise requests from wider team members or employees leaving to more attractive salaries.

Additionally, for less agile business models, particularly banks and financial service organisations with strict salary bandings, it can be more difficult to tweak salary offers per individual candidate.

When it comes to these in-demand IT roles, many can be completed 100% remotely, which removes geographical boundaries and although this widens the talent pool, it also increases the competitiveness of the market.

Looking at the number of digital, IT and tech vacancies in the UK right now, it is clear to see the demand for talent is there but, unfortunately, the individuals with the desired skillset and commercial experience are not. Companies are now looking at their recruitment strategy and looking to build structures to allow young talent to enter the business and be developed from within.

While an increase in investment in time, money and resource is required, utilising an in-house training academy, which focuses on a two to four year plan for graduates, could pay dividends long-term. Of course there is a risk they leave to work elsewhere following training, but that would be more of a reflection on the company offering and culture. Ideally the employee would build up a sense of belonging and a shared purpose during their training time which would be developed alongside their new skillset.

Other things to consider would be to leverage a company referral scheme and utilise existing staff as real-life, trusted ambassadors for the business.

Businesses are also looking at their employee value proposition (EVP) given the changing landscape and needs of employees. For example the Gen Z population have different needs from other demographics like Millennials and Gen X. It is important for businesses to reflect this in the company benefits suite.

EVP covers all tangible factors within a job role including salary, healthcare plans and added benefits such as gym memberships, cycle to work schemes, increased holidays or a flexible working policy, but also stretches to encompass the business culture and values.

Ultimately businesses need to get creative with what they offer candidates, and how they are evolving their EVP to suit changing needs. It is a candidate driven market but companies who invest in smart recruitment models can regain control and win over the best talent. 

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