Date posted: 17/08/2018 5 min read

No pay rise? Here's what to ask for instead

Disappointing pay rise? Ask for these benefits in lieu of a salary increase.

In Brief

  • About two-thirds of employers will give their accounting staff pay rises of less than 3% in their next review.
  • But 17% of employees expect an increase of 6% or more.
  • Benefits can bridge the gap in expectations and have positive career effects long term.

By David Cawley

Accounting professionals may be expecting a pay rise this year, but getting more money is less likely than most think. 

According to the 2018-19 Hays Salary Guide, there is a marked disparity between what staff want and what employers are prepared to pay. The guide shows that 65% of Australian employers will give their accountancy staff pay rises of less than 3% in their next review, while 11% will not increase salaries at all. Yet 17% of employees expect an increase of 6% or more and 67% say a salary increase is their number one career priority this year.

There is a marked disparity between what staff want and what employers are prepared to pay.

Last year, 14% of employees expected to receive an increase of 6% or above, but only 8% of employers said they increased at this level in their last review.  

Over the past year, staff turnover increased in 32% of organisations.

This is understandable as just 40% of the professionals we spoke to are “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” in their current jobs. As well, only 41% and 51% are “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their current employer and direct manager, respectively. 

With business activity and confidence high, and employers adding staff, it is surprising that of the 46% of people who said they planned to look for a new job this year, 53% cited a lack of promotional opportunities as the main reason. 

This suggests employers could be doing more to develop their existing talent, particularly as a lack of new challenges (44%) and poor training and development (29%) came in as the third- and fourth-highest factors spurring staff to look at jobs elsewhere. In second place was an uncompetitive salary (48%). Other factors of note were poor work-life balance (26%) and a poor benefits package (21%). 

Flexible working options

Faced with minimal salary increases, other benefits such as flexible working options, a career progression path, learning and development, or additional days off can be better outcomes. Negotiating for options that have positive effects on your career and health and well-being over the long term may be your best way forward.

The appetite for flexible working options is demonstrated by the fact that almost three-quarters (73%) of the workers surveyed would like a job that offers flexible work practices. Not all workplaces can offer flexible working but for those that can, it is a strong benefit in lieu of a salary increase.

The most common options are flexible hours, part-time employment, work outside the office, flexible leave options and job sharing.

Career progression

Some 72% of employees say career progression opportunities are also important. Your boss can also help you achieve your career goals by connecting you with the right people and promoting your skills, such as through working on a project, giving a presentation or representing the team during an internal meeting.

Talk to your boss about how she or he sees your role advancing.

Talk to your boss about how she or he sees your role advancing and agree on ways for you to progress. Ask for feedback on the areas you can improve and request more responsibilities to stretch yourself beyond your day-to-day role. 

Learning and development

More than half the respondents to the survey (59%) want ongoing learning and development linked to career progression. When thinking about your career in the year ahead, what challenging or exciting new work could you undertake to expand your skills? What skills do you know your team needs but is currently lacking?

On-the-job training, career opportunities, mentorships and courses can provide you with skills development while also providing the organisation with the opportunity to cover any skill gaps to meet its goals.

Extra days off

More than 20 days’ annual leave is important to 28% of people surveyed. If time is money, an extra couple of days off each year could be a suitable middle ground for both you and your employer.

Other benefits considered important include health and wellness programs (15%), financial support for study (12%) and payment of usage charges for employee-owned devices at work (8%). 

The 2018-19 Hays Salary Guide surveyed more than 3000 workplaces around the country, covering many different industries.

David Cawley is regional director of Hays Accounting & Finance

Available from Your Library: Mind the (wage) gap

Delves into factors that result in women being paid less than men, with a focus on ageism and widening pay inequality as women get older.

Hear more

Available from Your Library: A brave and bold experiment: four days' work for five days' pay

Discusses a company where, for a trial period staff worked a four-day work week for five days' pay.

Read more