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The 23rd annual review of secretarial and admin staff by London training and recruitment company Gordon Yates shows clear signs of the pain of recession: pay rises have fallen, fewer bonuses are offered and benefits, virtually untouched for years, have been eroded. Yet a positive attitude shines through most people view their remuneration package as fair, job satisfaction is up and the majority still enjoy what they do and have no immediate plans to move on.
Richard Grace, Joint Managing Director of Gordon Yates, comments: In the present economic climate, many are finding that opportunities to earn more money are restricted. Rather than become disaffected by this harsh reality, people appear to be accepting what they have and making the best of it in a positive way. This makes the survey one of the most interesting and encouraging weve ever run.
Cutbacks in pay, bonuses and benefits
For the first time in the 23 years of the SecsLife report, pay rises were in the minority: 57% of employers (40% in 2009) imposed a pay freeze, reflecting tight cost control in a tough economic climate. Pay rises, for those who received them, averaged just 2.8% which, with inflation at 4.7%* in November 2010, is a cutback in real terms.
Only 37 % of companies offered bonuses and, in a third of cases, these were less than 500. Goodwill bonuses have all but vanished today, bonuses are nearly always linked to profits.
Through past recessions, benefits have held up strongly but these too are now under siege. According to this years survey, a company pension scheme is offered by just 52% of employers (75% in 2009), a season ticket loan by 24% (34% in 2009) and private medical insurance (23% in 2009).
Despite suffering cuts, 64% of respondents think that their remuneration package is fair, suggesting a widespread acceptance of the changed economic conditions.
People count more than money
Peoples priorities are emphasised by the answers to what matters most to you at work?  Pay is only mentioned by around a third of respondents. Far more important are the people they work with: 58% opt for colleagues I can relate to and enjoy working with and 48% for a boss I respect.  This reflects the findings of past reports where a good boss, usually defined as someone who is fair, supportive and appreciative, is one of the main reasons for satisfaction at work. 
Personal development is less of a priority, although one in five still highlights this as important at work and 15% seek good long term career prospects. Perhaps employers should, however, put expensive office refurbishments on hold: only 8% of respondents say their surroundings and work environment are important to them! 
Rising job satisfaction
Despite the cutbacks, satisfaction levels at work show a positive improvement: more people (26%) report being more satisfied with their job, reinforcing the view that remuneration is not the main motivator. Further, 65% of respondents, more than in previous years, plan to stay with their present employer.
* ROI, Office for National Statistics


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