By Ian Eker, director of construction & property for recruitment firm Hays in Scotland
ACCORDING to the recent Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2016 report, the biggest jump in salaries last year was in the construction sector, growing by 3.6%, compared to average growth of 2.3%.
This means that an average salary in 2014 of £36,864 has now risen to £38,195.
During the recession many construction professionals either retired or made career moves into other industries. Many others kept a low profile for job security reasons and now wish to catch up on the below-inflation wage rises they were offered during this time.
This has led to a shortage of qualified workers, in particular, contract and project managers, civil engineers and quantity surveyors, which is fuelling this significant growth in salaries.
Recent figures suggest that commercial construction in Scotland rose by 17.6% last year, making Scotland the best-performing region in the UK after the east of England, where growth was 23%.
So the market is clearly active again. But now a limited pool of qualified people is able to demand salary increases of between 9% and 12% to move jobs.
At Hays, we’ve never seen a gap as wide as this.
Unfortunately, it’s not going to get better soon, as you can’t simply reverse eight years of recession overnight by producing hundreds of qualified and experienced candidates to fill these new posts.
As an employer, what can you do to avoid this potentially costly issue and make sure you have the right staff to keep your business moving or, indeed, expanding?
Try asking yourself this question: “Why would somebody want to work for me?” Or even this: “Why, aside from money, would somebody leave a competitor company and come and work for me?”
You’re unlikely to have an immediate answer, but give it some thought, as it will pay off better than anything else you can do. Especially as there was a 2% decrease in Scotland last year in the number of people who moved jobs because they were dissatisfied with their salary and benefits.
So, what is it that makes your company special? Why are the jobs you offer more interesting, exciting, challenging? In what ways do you have an edge on the competition when offering achievable career pathways for ambitious professionals?
Ask as many relevant people as possible in this process – including yourself – what makes your job compelling?
Ask existing staff why they joined, and what they most enjoy.
You’ll probably find that many people are most engaged – not just by a competitive salary – but by the work environment and culture, team spirit and the opportunity to be at the forefront of new and exciting developments.
Our research also tells us that, excluding salary, a good work/life balance is by far the most important factor when considering a new role. Yet only 11% of employers think this is important when attracting staff.
So focus more on adding value and think about what makes you exciting, different or unique.
Then sell what makes you special to recruit the skills you need.