Will 2019 be the year of the pay rise in Oz?

Chris Sheedy By Chris Sheedy, CA Today

19 February 2019

Recent research from recruitment firm Hays says a pay rise is now the number one concern for skilled professionals, with 75% of employees expecting an increase in 2019. Could one be on the way?

It’s no secret that salary increases have been few and far between over the last few years in Australia. Despite strong growth in the jobs market, positive business sentiment and a shortage of highly-skilled professionals, salaries have remained flat.

Employers are also finally beginning to warm up to the idea of rewarding their workforces, even if the level of the rise is underwhelming – while 89% of employers intend to increase salaries in the next 12 months, 65% say they intend to bump salaries up by just 3%.

The research study, which included data from over 2.3 million employees in more than 3,000 businesses, said that while 47% of employers believe they will increase permanent headcount in the next 12 months, their current workforces are putting in longer hours than ever. Over one-third of organisations (34%) say overtime has increased.

Optimism by location

Are staff expecting to be showered with financial reward for this extra effort? It depends where they work, the survey said. In NSW and WA, 17% of staff are confident they will receive a salary increase of 6% or more.

Such optimism is not as evident in the other states, with 16% of Queenslanders, 15% of Tasmanians and 14% of Victorians and Canberrans expecting the same.

On a less positive note, 43% of staff expect no pay rise in South Australia.

On the upside, the vast majority of employers are offering flexible work options, ongoing learning and development and career progression opportunities, all of which are important to employees, the survey said.

But pay rises still loom large, with 48% of professionals saying they will ask for a rise if their employer doesn’t offer one.

Salary increases in accounting

The Hays Salary Guide said that in the Professional Services industries, 13% of companies offered no pay increase during their last salary review process and 44% awarded a raise of less than 3%. Only 6% of businesses granted a raise of more than 10%.

Unfortunately, in professional services the story isn’t looking much better for 2019, according to the research. While 7% will be offering no pay rise, 58% will award a raise of less than 3%, and only one in 50 companies will give a rise of more than 10%.

This is quite different from the expectations of employees in professional services; 20% of whom expect no pay rise, and 18% of whom are hopeful for a rise of over 10%.

Perhaps it should be no surprise that 46% of employees say they are planning to, or currently looking for, a new job.

Accounting - the big picture

In terms of skills shortages, 14% of businesses have found it difficult to recruit middle-management candidates in the fields of accountancy and finance, while junior/entry level and senior management candidates have been a problem for only 6% of companies.

“Accountancy and finance professionals will see increased demand for their skills in 2018-19 in response to the continued strength of the labour market and the ever-increasing volume of data that organisations now employ,” the report stated.

“Within commerce specifically, positive conditions have seen salaries increase moderately ahead of CPI across the board.

“In addition, annual bonuses are being used to attract and retain employees and are a large part of total packages. Flexible working opportunities are another attraction and retention tool.”

About the author

Chris Sheedy is one of Australia’s busiest and most successful freelance writers. He has been published regularly in the Sydney Morning HeraldVirgin Australia VoyeurThe Australian MagazineGQIn The BlackCadillac, Management Today, Men’s Fitness and countless other big-brand publications. He is frequently commissioned to carry out copywriting and corporate writing projects for organisations, including banks, universities, television networks, restaurant chains and major charities, through his business The Hard Word.


  • Business
  • Australia

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