The 10 highest salary increases for the year ahead

7 min read | Simon Winfield | Article | Salary & pay Job searching Salary and pay Recruiting

10 highest salary increases for the year ahead

The world of work continues to provide complex challenges, but also boundless potential for 2024. Evolving skills demands, AI, hybrid working, and a fast-changing economic climate are all creating new opportunities and provoking new questions for organisations and employees alike, meaning that keeping pace with hiring and employment trends is key for success.

The direction of the labour market is largely being shaped by the ongoing increase to the cost of living, which has resulted in many employers continuing to increase their employees’ pay (are you being paid the right salary?) This, however, presents a dilemma for professionals, many of whom are now in the position of weighing up whether they’d be better off moving for a higher wage or staying put for greater job security.

In compiling our annual Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends guide we analyse over 12,000 salaries using information gathered from job listings, job offers and candidate registrations across our UK office network. This, combined with our survey – which this year received just under 15,000 responses – presents a highly comprehensive picture of salaries, recruiting trends and insights.

Out of this research comes three vital questions:

  • What’s driving salary increases?
  • Where are these increases highest?
  • Will pay inflation continue?


The cost of living is the primary driver of pay rises

While the biggest pay rises typically tend to be found in the areas where skills and expertise are hardest to come by, ongoing increases to the cost of living are forcing the hand of many employers, who must keep their salaries in-line with market expectations if they are to not only attract, but keep the people they need to deliver on organisational objectives.

According to our survey data, the vast majority (85%) of employers raised their employees’ salaries or rates of pay over the past year, compared to 83% who did the same the year prior. The proportion who increased them by 5% or more also saw a lift – 40% compared to just 26% last year. 70% of employers say pay increases have been a direct result of the rise in the cost of living, compared to 54% who said the same last year.


Certain sectors seeing above-average pay rises

Salaries across the UK professions in our guide rose by an average of 3.5% over the last year. While this is lower than last year’s 5.4%, it’s higher than the increases we saw in 2021 and 2020 (2.8% and 1.2% respectively). Certain sectors also saw higher-than-average pay increases this year, including sustainability (6.3%), accountancy and finance (5.6%) and procurement (5.1%). 

Whilst the list below is not necessarily a reflection of the highest paid jobs on the market currently, it does give an excellent indication of the areas seeing the most growth potential. It includes roles across engineering and manufacturing, technology, accountancy and finance, and sustainability.


Salaries on an upward trajectory

Upward salary momentum is set to continue over the coming year, with 77% of employers intending to give their employees a pay rise in 2024 according to our survey data. Organisations clearly recognise that competitive remuneration remains a compelling reason for professionals to switch jobs – particularly in the current climate – but our research has demonstrated that staff are increasingly attracted to roles that have both scope for progression and meaningful purpose. An overwhelming 86% consider an organisation’s purpose important when considering a new role, while the top reasons cited for leaving previous jobs were a lack of fulfilment (35%) and poor career progression (26%).


Refining the employee experience

With the proportion of professionals anticipating a change of job in the coming year at its lowest point for a decade, employers will need to design even more creative approaches to talent attraction and retention. For example, with career opportunities a driver of employee movement, what progression pathways can be put in place to appeal to prospective talent and retain existing employees? If you’re a private sector employer looking to highlight your purpose, consider how you can make the benefits your organisation makes to wider society clear to candidates.

Those professionals looking to move, meanwhile, might consider what – aside from salary – is important to them in a new role. Are you looking for an organisation with tailored flexible working policies? Or an engaging and supportive team culture? Familiarising yourself with an organisation’s EVP before getting too deep into the application process can help you to make sure you’re prioritising opportunities that tick the right boxes for you.

Find out more about how salaries and employment trends are changing by checking out our Hays Salary & Recruiting trends guide here.

About this author

Simon Winfield, Managing Director, Hays UK & Ireland

Simon joined Hays in 2006, having commenced his recruitment career in 1993. Initially responsible for our businesses in Western Australia and Northern Territory, Simon relocated to the UK in 2014 where he was responsible for our operations in the West & Wales and Ireland, before being appointed Managing Director of the UK & Ireland business in 2018.

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