Hays UK jobs and employment blog


Today’s HR professionals desire more than just a good salary

By Barney Ely, Director of Hays Human Resources

Our recent Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2019 report revealed that nearly two-thirds (64%) of HR employers expect their business activity levels to go up; a huge increase on the 50% who said the same last year. In light of this expected boost in activity, nearly half (49%) of HR employers are increasingly looking to hire short-term HR staff to plug the gaps and give them the skills they need for specialist projects over the coming year.

Many organisations are looking to hire senior contractors to support the implementation and adoption of new HR systems, as well as work around equality, diversity and inclusion.

Despite employer optimism, skills shortages threaten hiring plans

However, the skills shortages in the HR sector are acute – and getting worse. According to our report findings, nearly all employers in the field (94%) have experienced skills shortages over the last 12 months, with just over a third (34%) saying they don’t currently have the talent they need within their organisations to meet their objectives.

Yet over the past 12 months, nearly half (44%) of HR professionals have changed role, and 39% say they have considered it. This is a huge talent pool for employers to tap into, if they are able to find the candidates with the specific skills they’re looking for.

HR salaries are on the rise

In the light of ongoing skills shortages, HR salaries are on the rise as employers look to recruit and retain the very best staff. Overall, HR professionals have seen a 2.1% rise in salaries, notably above the 1.8% overall average increase in salaries in the UK.

But is salary enough to attract the best HR talent? Despite only 31% of HR employees saying they are dissatisfied with their salary – a big reduction from the 56% who said the same last year – over half of HR professionals (56%) still plan to look for a new job next year, indicating that pay may not be enough to attract or keep top talent.

So, what can employers do to ensure they are recruiting and retaining the best HR professionals? 

  • Are you prioritising work-life balance? Over a third (37%) of HR professionals say that work-life balance is their number one priority when considering a new role. With so many HR professionals looking to change role over the coming year, making sure candidates can get the work-life balance they are looking for is absolutely vital when it comes to securing the best talent.
  • Make sure benefits offered are what HR professionals actually want. A competitive benefits package is the most significant factor for 22% of HR employees. However, the benefits organisations offer are often not in sync with what HR professionals are looking for. The top benefit for two-thirds of HR professionals is over 28 days’ paid annual leave, but less than half of employers (46%) offer this. Other benefits preferred by HR professionals include pension provision above the legal minimum (59%), health insurance or private medical cover (52%), life insurance (43%) and training and/or professional certification support (41%).
  • Finally, HR employers should offer candidates options like flexible hours and remote working. Make it clear that these are available right from the start of the recruitment process, to attract the right applicants.


To discover more insights about the human resources market, and the prospects for the next year for HR as a whole, request your copy of the Hays salary guide here.

For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Barney joined Hays in 1993 as a business graduate and is now Director for Hays Human Resources. Barney also has operational responsibility for Hays offices across the South of England, placing professionals in over 20 industry sectors covering everything from accountancy and finance to construction, IT education and healthcare.


Free staff diversity training

Sign up to Hays Thrive so your team can benefit from our Diversity & Inclusion package – as well as dozens more free training courses.

Sign up now


My Learning

My Learning is your portal for free training courses to support you throughout your career and get you market-ready for your next job search.


Hays Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020

In our latest Equality, Inclusion and Diversity Report, we explore whether flexible working can help create more diverse workforces and more inclusive workplaces.


Job search

Search for a job

Looking for a new role? Search here for your ideal job or get in touch with one of our expert consultants.


Register a job

Register a vacancy

Have a vacancy? Fill in your details here.


Contact us

Find your nearest Hays office

Hays has offices across the whole of the UK. Contact us to discuss your employment needs.