Market Update 2019/20

14 February 2020

By VWA Team

Download The Full 2019/20 Market Update

2019 saw Victoria Wall Associates celebrate its 30th year in business! During this time, we have developed and strengthened relationships with many clients and candidates, experienced boom years of growth, and seen off three recessions. In what is now our fourth decade, we’re proud to still be working with clients and candidates who’ve been with us since our first.

It proved to be a challenging year for the permanent EA and Administrative market, largely due to Brexit uncertainty. Clients whose recruitment processes were unaffected still found it hard to attract the right applicants. Many senior candidates decided to stay put, making the market largely static, with growth more noticeable at the junior level.

Candidates who did decide to move, often significantly raised their comp expectations - in some instances pursuing an increase of 20%-30% of existing basic salary. Clients remained keen to secure top talent, and given the constricted supply of candidates, acceded to many such requests.

"Businesses are positive about their own prospects but ongoing Brexit uncertainty has led many firms to delay projects and hiring decisions. The UK’s vibrant temporary work market is playing an important role in helping employers manage the ongoing uncertainty and job seekers to find work.”

Neil Carberry, CEO Recruitment and Employment Confederation​

At the senior end of the market there was also an enormous increase in the number of fixed-term contracts. Candidates who wouldn’t usually consider such placements, favouring consistency on their CVs, applied for lack of other available opportunities. The temporary side of the business grew significantly in 2019, with many clients needing and wanting to hire, but constrained by limited permanent headcount. The variety of temp positions worked on also dramatically increased. With the close of 2019 we experienced a flurry of new permanent hiring ahead of the new year, with a renewed vigour and appetite in the market.

Salary Overview

Financial Services

Low

Average​

High

Temp
Low​

Temp
High​

Entry Level/Graduates

  • £22,000.00

  • £25,000.00

  • £28,000.00

  • £11.00

  • £15.00

Junior Receptionist, Office Administrator 1-3 Years' Experience

  • £25,000.00

  • £30,000.00

  • £35,000.00

  • £12.00

  • £16.00

Senior Receptionist

  • £32,000.00

  • £35,000.00

  • £40,000.00

  • £14.00

  • £18.00

Team Assistant / Administrator 3+ Years' Experience

  • £30,000.00

  • £38,000.00

  • £42,000.00

  • £17.00

  • £20.00

PA / EA (MD Level)

  • £45,000.00

  • £48,000.00

  • £55,000.00

  • £20.00

  • £28.00

Senior PA / EA (Partner Level)

  • £45,000.00

  • £55,000.00

  • £70,000.00

  • £24.00

  • £30.00

Office Manager (5+ Years' Experience)

  • £45,000.00

  • £55,000.00

  • £70,000.00

  • £28.00

  • £35.00

Professional Services

Low

Average

High

Temp Low

Temp High

Entry Level/Graduates

  • £22,000.00

  • £25,000.00

  • £28,000.00

  • £10.00

  • £14.00

Junior Receptionist, Office Administrator 1-3 Years' Experience

  • £24,000.00

  • £28,000.00

  • £32,000.00

  • £14.00

  • £16.00

Senior Receptionist

  • £30,000.00

  • £32,000.00

  • £35,000.00

  • £12.00

  • £18.00

Team Assistant / Administrator 3+ Years' Experience

  • £27,000.00

  • £32,000.00

  • £40,000.00

  • £15.00

  • £20.00

PA / EA (MD Level)

  • £35,000.00

  • £45,000.00

  • £50,000.00

  • £17.00

  • £24.00

Senior PA / EA (Partner Level)

  • £45,000.00

  • £55,000.00

  • £60,000.00

  • £22.00

  • £28.00

Office Manager (5+ Years' Experience)

  • £40,000.00

  • £50,000.00

  • £60,000.00

  • £20.00

  • £32.00

Arts & Charities

Low

Average

High

Temp
Low

Temp
High

Entry Level/Graduates

  • £20,000.00

  • £25,000.00

  • £28,000.00

  • £10.00

  • £14.00

Junior Receptionist, Office Administrator 1-3 Years' Experience

  • £23,000.00

  • £26,000.00

  • £30,000.00

  • £11.00

  • £15.00

Senior Receptionist

  • £26,000.00

  • £28,000.00

  • £30,000.00

  • £12.00

  • £16.00

Team Assistant / Administrator 3+ Years' Experience

  • £24,000.00

  • £30,000.00

  • £35,000.00

  • £14.00

  • £19.00

PA / EA (MD Level)

  • £27,000.00

  • £34,000.00

  • £45,000.00

  • £16.00

  • £22.00

Senior PA / EA (Partner Level)

  • £32,000.00

  • £40,000.00

  • £50,000.00

  • £20.00

  • £24.00

Office Manager (5+ Years' Experience)

  • £35,000.00

  • £50,000.00

  • £60,000.00

  • £20.00

  • £28.00

Creative, Luxury & Media

Low

Average

High

Temp
Low

Temp
High

Entry Level/Graduates

  • £20,000.00

  • £24,000.00

  • £27,000.00

  • £10.00

  • £14.00

Junior Receptionist, Office Administrator 1-3 Years' Experience

  • £23,000.00

  • £27,000.00

  • £32,000.00

  • £11.00

  • £15.00

Senior Receptionist

  • £26,000.00

  • £28,000.00

  • £32,000.00

  • £12.00

  • £16.00

Team Assistant / Administrator 3+ Years' Experience

  • £25,000.00

  • £30,000.00

  • £35,000.00

  • £14.00

  • £19.00

PA / EA (MD Level)

  • £25,000.00

  • £42,000.00

  • £50,000.00

  • £20.00

  • £24.00

Senior PA / EA (Partner Level)

  • £32,000.00

  • £47,000.00

  • £65,000.00

  • £18.00

  • £24.00

Office Manager (5+ Years' Experience)

  • £35,000.00

  • £45,000.00

  • £60,000.00

  • £20.00

  • £28.00

Private

Low

Average

High

Temp
Low

Temp
High

Entry Level/Graduates

  • £22,000.00

  • £24,000.00

  • £27,000.00

  • £10.00

  • £14.00

PA / EA (MD Level)

  • £40,000.00

  • £45,000.00

  • £55,000.00

  • £20.00

  • £30.00

Senior PA / EA (Partner Level)

  • £50,000.00

  • £60,000.00

  • £75,000.00

  • £20.00

  • £35.00

Candidate Driven Market

​It has become more and more challenging to recruit the right people. Previously the candidate was the “product”, with consultants selling the best candidates to their clients; nowadays roles have reversed, and consultants are now selling businesses to candidates, enticing them into the new role on offer.

Businesses need to make the right impression to attract candidates suited to moving their business forward. Recruitment marketing is the new buzzword, and in 2019 clients showing sufficient interest in the candidate were more likely to hire the people they wanted.

Companies ought to be proactive in persuading candidates to work for them, and not only with promises of flexible working and benefits. To compete properly firms must demonstrate their culture and values, and how they can support candidates in their development.

Candidates will be comparing businesses against each other, making it essential for firms to differentiate and stand out. With the majority of candidates being in permanent work and therefore more cautious about leaving without a new contract in place, the market is still tight for talent.

Some candidates are staying put for longer than we’d normally see, and are wary of interviewing unless the job is different or the salary significantly higher than the one they are on.

Streamline Time to Hire

Demand for the best professionals with the most relevant skills will continue to grow in the year ahead. Acting quickly to secure chosen candidates must be high on businesses’ agendas. Successful hiring in 2019 occurred when everyone involved committed to the process.

Keeping all parties in the loop is key, with constructive feedback as well as the actual commitment to hire when headcount has been approved being most important. Speed and keeping the focus, but not rushing the process, really does help with this.

Research with job seekers shows that almost a quarter claim to receive more than one job offer, while 57% have accepted a second-choice role when their preferred employer took too long to contact them.

Impact of Your Employer Brand

As above, improving the employer brand and becoming known as THE place to work is key to recruiting the best people. It takes time, effort and investment to improve a business’s brand. However, if this is done successfully, rewards will be reaped long-term. Finding candidates is the first step in winning the war for talent. But persuading in-demand professionals to join your firm over another is just as much of a challenge.

Every company’s reputation is already out there for all to see. Social media sites such as Glassdoor serve to provide feedback from current and past employees, and help prospective candidates do their homework before an interview is even in their diary.

It is increasingly important to candidates that they find roles with organisations that provide a collaborative, flexible workplace that also makes them feel invested in the success of their team.

Recently, the British Chamber of Commerce cited a link between flexibility and increased productivity levels which can only be a good thing for business.

57% of candidates accept a second choice role when their preferred employer took too long to contact them.

Social Recruiting

Using social media for recruitment is one of the key recruitment trends that will continue to be a growth area. LinkedIn, Facebook etc. are platforms that allow clients to converse with potential employees about the business they may be working in.

Digitisation Effect

Despite earlier predictions that artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will steal our jobs, the latest reports show that they will have the opposite effect. PwC has reported that AI will be all about displacement, not replacement, of traditional jobs. It is said that about 7.2 million new jobs could be created, notably in sectors like health and science, meaning a net growth in jobs of about 200,000. The one thing that is clear is that the evolution of the workplace is here. However, the UK talent market is already experiencing a lack of digital skills needed to help businesses adapt to digitisation, AI and automation.

Recruiting With Flexibility

A competitive hiring market means offering perks to employees, including one that’s increasingly prioritised by job seekers: flexibility. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the International Workplace Group, 80% of respondents said they’d choose the job offer that came with flexibility over the one that did not. Furthermore, 85% of businesses responded that productivity actually increased in their workplace due to greater flexibility.

Offering flexibility as a job perk, i.e., allowing employees to work some time from home and other hours at the office, can help you gain an advantage against businesses retaining a more rigid approach. Flexibility, of course, can depend on the type of job and technology involved, and is most suitable for employees who can work remotely via their laptops.

Focus on Retention

Once you’ve attracted and secured the right people, the next challenge is to ensure they stay. According to our research, almost one in four people would consider leaving their current job if an equivalent job with a better remuneration package came along. Retention strategies for the coming year should aim to focus more on the “human first” approach, beginning with leadership techniques. Our research found that employees were most happy at work when they felt a sense of appreciation, pride in their organization, and when they were treated with fairness and respect. Another reason for candidates to leave their roles is when an employer is unable to provide a clear development path, including training. Research found that three quarters of candidates are more likely to quit their jobs if this is the case compared with three years ago.

Retention strategies for the coming year should aim to focus more on the human-first approach.

​Bonuses & Benefits

The potential to earn a healthy bonus remains a strong consideration for candidates when thinking about their next role and this is mainly prevalent in the finance sector.

In this space, in 2019 VWA saw average bonuses of 10% - 20%. There were some cases of bonuses of up to 30%-40%, and even 50% was achieved, though these were the exception rather than the rule, and mostly reflected in positions supporting at a senior level, where the role is of a 24/7 nature, and were mostly within boutique finance firms In terms of benefits, 25 days’ holiday has become the minimum expectation from candidates. Pension schemes range from employer contributions of 5% - 15% in the market and private medical healthcare, life assurance and season ticket loans remain core benefits.

Additional features such as gym membership, flexibility to buy extra holiday (3 – 5 days), sabbaticals after a certain length of service, flexibility to work from home and other well-being benefits are key attractions for candidates. Furthermore, a proportion of boutique finance firms in the West End provide breakfast and lunch and/or offer a lunch allowance which again is highly attractive and a considerable benefit.

The Graduate Talent Pool

The graduate market is very busy with bright and intelligent graduates from a variety of degree backgrounds. They are usually realistic but ambitious about their first job, and often haven’t had careers advice from universities about what to expect on entering the world of work. VWA has been required to give guidance and manage expectations, and has been successful in placing graduates into roles within HR, finance, marketing, investor relations, and charities, as well as reception and administration roles.

Secretarial College Leavers

VWA worked closely with Oxford Media Business School during 2019, placing their candidates in work experience roles as well as working with them to find their first jobs. Many of these candidates entered university but decided it wasn’t for them and preferred to gain skills at OMBS which they could put to great use in their first job. VWA also worked with candidates from Quest, which is the London equivalent business and secretarial training school.

The Take Home

Whatever recruitment tactics organisations choose to integrate in 2020, methods will ultimately be at the mercy of the job market and the global economy.

While we can’t predict the future of the economy, we can guarantee this:

Recruitment will be defined by innovation in ‘human touch’ and employer-branding and the organisations embracing both ill have greater success at recruiting the right employees for the long haul.​

25 days’ holiday has become the minimum expectation from candidates. Private medical life assurance and season ticket loans remain core benefits.

The Rise and Rise of the Temps

The temp desk has found itself very busy throughout 2019, in part due to the increased number of temp-to-perms, but largely from a heightened need for quality temps at short notice. As is frequently the case with VWA, the majority of these opportunities have been Executive Assistants, Team Assistants and Receptionists, though when required we were successful in filling more specialised bookings such as HR, Events and Marketing Co-ordinators.

Clients are consistent in preferring a regular pool of repeat candidates, both to maintain long-term relationships and avoid having to constantly retrain new temps. Successfully pairing temps with clients therefore hinges on both accurately reconciling client and candidate needs. E.g. someone seeking as much work as possible is unlikely to become a regular at a smaller firm with limited holiday/sickness requirements etc.

Emergency situations remain the only times that these expectations are compromised, and companies wishing for minimal disruption should plan cover weeks, sometimes months in advance if possible. Given the above, the perfect temp remains someone who isn’t seeking permanent opportunities and is therefore available indefinitely, e.g.someone who is subsidising a vocation or project.

Successfully pairing temps with clients hinges on accurately reconciling client and candidate needs.

That said, the world of temping is defined by flexibility and change, not absolutes, and candidates seeking perm are still extremely useful, especially if it’s likely that finding what they’re looking for will take a while. In terms of the market, candidates continue to seek competitive rates and swift personal development. Most patient and loyal temps will eventually want some form of progression and compensation to correspond.

Typical temp rates include receptionists from £12 plus holiday at the lowest to £16 plus holiday at the more experienced level, with some going higher for extra polish and commitment, or where the receptionist is required to perform back-up or additional admin support.

For PAs, rates begin at £15 plus holiday at the most junior level and increase through to £24 plus holiday and over for senior cover, some candidates earning over £28 plus holiday at C-suite. Firms wishing to get good candidates at lower rates have adjusted their profiles and looked beyond their usual prior experience requirements to achieve the desired result. In addition to competitive rates, a good, supportive environment is increasingly perceived as a right not a luxury, and even the most loyal temps will seek improved relationships if they don’t feel these requirements are satisfied.

In extreme cases, clients and agencies will have to manage candidates who expect growth to come a little faster than even the prevailing climate usually allows, but whose performance is such that accommodating them remains a priority. Ultimately a proactive approach towards reward, progression and culture is the best way to ensure the most dedicated temp service available.

Should you have any questions about the above market update, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

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