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9th Jan, 2024

James Reed CBE
James Reed CBE
Job Title
Chairman and CEO
OG image - James Reed

The end of 2023 saw slowing inflation, a positive sign for the year ahead. But no matter what happens with the inflation rate, people will still be feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis. Many will be looking for jobs that can offer the salary and benefits they need to stay afloat.

It’s the people working in organisations that make the difference, so it is important that companies do all they can to offer the best remuneration packages to attract new, good quality hires and to retain their best people.

The wants and needs of the UK workforce

Towards the end of last year, we conducted our annual survey of 5,000 workers to provide you with a representative picture of the wants and needs of the UK workforce. You can see an in-depth analysis of the results of the survey in our guides, but interestingly, 55% of people are currently looking for, or considering looking for, a new job. The top reasons for looking to leave their current role include pay being insufficient or perceived to be better elsewhere, benefits not being good enough, and a toxic workplace culture.

On top of this, just over half of workers (56%) are happy with the pay they receive, but this does mean that many are not. Of those who aren’t satisfied with what they are earning, over half (57%) stated that this is because their salary hasn’t risen with the cost of living. Over a third (39%) say it’s not enough for them to live the lifestyle they want, and (38%) feel they are unable to save enough money to meet their financial goals.

As a business leader, I know it isn’t always possible to increase salaries, especially with rising costs, the burden of overheads and higher business rates looming. However, it’s important that if you can, you consider doing so, because even a small amount can make a big difference.

The best investment you can make is in people

In my experience, the best investment you can make is in people, and in return, you will see improvements to productivity, employee retention, customer satisfaction and ultimately your bottom line. But if there really isn’t anything you can do with salary, focus on the benefits you can offer – make your place of work difficult to leave and become a ‘star player’ when it comes to added value. Our research highlights the disparity between what is being offered and what people really want, so don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues what they actually want and keep doing this on a regular basis to ensure you have your finger on the pulse.

This year, our research has also highlighted some significant gender disparities. According to our survey, women are earning on average £10,000 less than their male counterparts. 57% of men feel confident they will achieve their dream salary, as opposed to just 44% of women. Women’s mental health is also more likely to be impacted negatively by their current financial situation (40% vs 29% of men). And overall, women are less likely to receive any work benefits (35% vs 25% of men), but when they do get them, they are more likely to prefer flexi time (40% vs 32% of men) and are less likely to get a salary increment (16% vs 20% of men).

These disturbing statistics highlight that there is still much work to be done to close the gender pay gap. According to the Office for National Statistics, the gap in median hourly pay between full-time male and female employees increased to 7.7% in 2023. Organisations should continue to address women’s inequality in the workplace and it’s certainly something we are working on here at Reed. Addressing gender pay will bring a range of benefits to your business including improved morale, higher retention, increased innovation, improved productivity and lower legal risks.

Not only must we bridge the pay gap, but business leaders also need to ensure that no matter what journey you find your organisations are on in 2024, inclusion and belonging should remain paramount in the workplace. This will ensure you widen your doors to access the best talent available. In an environment where you will l need innovative, creative and productive people more than ever, this makes perfect business sense.

Remember, your people are your superpower! Wishing you all the best for the year ahead.

To find out what salaries and benefits you should be offering your team, download our free 2024 salary guides here.

Reed salary guide 2024