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One in two candidates lost due to uncompetitive rewards in the city

A new survey of over 6,800 employees and employers in the city found that over half (55%) of employers had missed out on candidates in the past 12 months because their salary and benefits package was not competitive enough.

Salaries remain the key driver of an employee’s choice of job, with 90% placing it as the most important element of the remuneration package when looking for a new role. Salaries are already rising, and 56% of employees surveyed received a salary increase in the past 12 months.

As over two thirds (68%) of employers encountered new hires receiving a better offer from their current organisation, the pressure to offer high salaries will increase forcing organisations to look for new and innovative ways to compete for staff who have come to expect high levels of financial reward as standard.

This focus on cash also raises questions as to whether cash or culture should be the priority for employers if they are to recruit people who may be attracted by other elements of the overall employment proposition.

Ian Clark, director at Hays financial markets, said,"It is no longer enough to expect employees to stay with an organisation based solely on financial reward. With high levels of remuneration becoming the norm, organisations must adapt to new ways to compete for talent. Aspects such as organisational culture, flexible working and flexible benefits packages are becoming more appealing to candidates choosing between jobs at similar pay levels.

Counter offers by current employers are also becoming more prevalent, with over two thirds (68%) of employers reporting counter offers made for at least some candidates. Employers now need to make a compelling case for an employee to take a new job that does not rely on salary alone, and that will stand up to a competitive offer.” 

The option to take benefits as cash is attractive to many employees, and almost two thirds (65%) of employees said taking all or some benefits as cash would be an attractive option when considering a new role. However, despite its popularity with employees, only 32% of employers offer this option. Flexible working was also increasingly valued by employees, with 34% saying home or remote working is important to them when considering a new role and 22% saying they are attracted by the ability to work flexible hours.

For highly sought after employees finance, governance and regulatory functions, salary was particularly important, and the majority had received a salary increase in the past 12 months and 80% expect to do so again in the year ahead. Although salary was the most important factor in their reward package, these employees put a high degree of importance on non-financial benefits, and were the only group of employees where the majority ranked a learning and development-based culture as the first choice.

Hays’ recommendations for attracting and retaining individuals in the financial sector:

To counteract the lure of counter offers, develop an onboarding strategy

Provide opportunities and challenges to attract and motivate current and future employees

Recognise the important of flexible working and a working environment that fosters innovation and creativity, despite regulatory scrutiny, and use this offering to attract in-demand skills from some groups of professionals without increased cost.

Consider allowing employees the option to cash in their benefits for a higher salary this option can help an employer stand out, particularly to younger employees

Request a copy of the Hays Financial Markets Reward Report at


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