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IMA Human Resources Blog

More Money? Even in a Tight Labor Market, It’s Not All About the Pay

Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP is an IMA Member

Typically, employers in a tight labor market can be expected to lean on the key weapon of salary and benefits in the war for talent. Makes sense: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is reporting an unemployment rate of just 2.5­­­­­ percent for professional and managerial workers. Competition for the right candidates is fierce – and accelerating.

However, a recent Baker Tilly Search & Staffing poll suggests candidates may be looking for different things from employers right now. The tight labor market may not have resulted in upward salary pressure.

In June, Baker Tilly Search & Staffing asked our online visitors if they had changed jobs in the past 12 months – and what that meant in terms of their compensation. The results show compensation was not the primary decision-maker for the increasing number of employees prepared to move on from their current employers.

Over 64 percent of our survey respondents changed employers last year for no change – or even a decrease – in pay. That suggests job searchers are more than willing to accept less pay if the employer offers a value proposition that supports their career goals and a workplace culture that fits their personality and work style. Of respondents who changed jobs in the preceding 12 months, only one-third received an increase in pay, with 14 percent of those individuals opting for an increase less than 10 percent.

What are some of the potential drivers in changing jobs? Career progression, opportunities for growth and top-notch learning and development are all known considerations. While employers do place a lot of emphasis on salary when recruiting, workers often actually want to feel like they are continually growing their arsenal of professional skills. Businesses are responding by increasing the time and effort into the training essential for professional development.

“Pay is important but it’s not everything in today’s talent marketplace. Businesses must continue to be more innovative in how they approach attracting top candidates, making sure to create recruiting strategies that understand the evolving expectations of today’s candidates. It’s clear from our research that employers need to offer a value proposition that keeps top talent happy, challenged and growing,” Carver Smith, Baker Tilly Search & Staffing partner said.


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