Employees Demand Good Pay Again as Job Fears Fall

  • Competitive salary replaces job security as top employment requirement
  • People working in Utilities and Insurance happiest with jobs and pay
  • Retail employees and accountants least happy
  • But successful retailers John Lewis and Marks & Spencer are voted the UK’s most attractive employers in 2013      Randstad Award



As the job market has improved UK workers’ confidence has returned, according to new research from recruiter Randstad. The survey of 7000 UK adults reveals that competitive pay and benefits is back as the most important requirement of a new employer, while job security, the top factor for the past three years, has fallen to third place.  This reversal mirrors the improvement in the UK jobs market reported in the most recent Government statistics.*


In 2012, 27% of people said long-term job security was the most important factor in choosing to work for a specific company – more than any other issue.  But this has now fallen to 16%, the lowest it has been in three years.  Meanwhile, 18% of respondents said a competitive salary and employee benefits was the most important factor in picking an employer, compared to only 11% in 2012 and 12% in 2011.


However further research reveals strong variation in happiness with current job and pay across industry sectors. People working in the utilities sector are the happiest employees in the UK with 96% happy with their jobs and 62% happy with their pay.  They are followed by those in insurance (87% happy overall, 90% happy with pay), law, property, aviation and financial services. (See table 1).


At the other end of the spectrum are accountants and those in retail. Just 42% of accountants are happy with their job and only 35% happy with current pay.  In retail only 51% of respondents describe themselves as happy overall and just 32% happy with their pay.   People working in the education, health care, construction, engineering and automotive industries are also less happy than the general working population.


But while those working in retail are amongst the least happy overall, the general public perceives leading retailers who are also known to reward their staff well, as the best UK employers to work for. In the 2013 Randstad Award co-operative retailer The John Lewis Partnership triumphed as the UK’s most attractive company to work for.  53% of people who knew the company said they would like to work for John Lewis, which received the top award for the second year in a row.  Retailer Marks & Spencer took second place while a big three supermarket was also named as one of the twenty most attractive employers in the UK.


Mark Bull, Randstad’s UK CEO, said: 2012 was a tough year for the job market with confidence falling even further than in 2011.  That was reflected in people’s priorities – salary packages weren’t as important to potential employees as the financial health of a business.  Over the course of the last twelve months, that’s changed dramatically and the UK’s workforce appears much more bullish.  In 2011 and 2012 the number one priority for people was job security – now it’s salaries and benefits.  With skills shortages intensifying as the UK’s restrictive migration policies take hold, employers need to work harder to attract potential candidates who are being less moderate in their salary expectations than they have been for years.  It’s no longer enough to rely on rock solid financials if you want to attract top talent.


Mark Bull continued:While people working in utilities say they are happy – the same can’t be said accountants and people working in retail.  With spending down and a stream of closures on the high street, its understandable employees’ morale might be down.  However there are some very successful examples for other retailers to follow and despite the feedback from people already working within these industries, the wider public’s perception of employment within companies in these sectors appears very different.”


In addition to being recognised as the UK’s second most attractive employer, Marks & Spencer – which came third in last year’s survey – was also perceived as being the employer most concerned with the environment and society. 


Automotive giant BMW came third, up from sixth last year. 


The public’s perception was more in line with employees’ happiness at the other end of the spectrum.  Aerospace and defence featured disproportionately in the list of most attractive employers, with three of the top twenty entries from the sector.



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