Higher than expected bonuses for the UK’s 148,000 HR professionals saw pay-outs nearly double from £680 million to £1.5 billion last year, boosting their total renumeration by 12%.
The sharp increase followed a year of job creation in the sector, with the number of HR positions rising by 6.7% between the second quarters of 2009 and 2010.
Jumps in demand for HR professionals working in the City in order to put hiring strategies into action likewise saw bonus payments nearly double to 18% of their total salary last year. The average bonus, worth about £9,980 to each individual in the Square Mile, outstripped expectations in mid-2010 when HR workers had hoped for payments of 13.5% of their salary. This meant that they received £2,500 more than anticipated.
The average HR wage in the City was £55,400 last year, up 5.1% on 2009, while total renumeration came in at £64,300, a rise of 12%.
Stephen Menko, UK director for HR recruitment agency Ortus, which undertook the survey among 900 HR professionals, said: “HR departments are a bellweather for the economy. It is good news for everyone that they are getting busy again as companies are beginning to compete for talent once more.”
Although bonus expectations had been modest since the start of the recession as many professionals were more concerned about job security than pay, such figures showed that the situation was beginning to change.
“HR professionals are plugged into the jobs market and it is not surprising that they are looking for opportunities. For many, bonus season may be the time to cash in and move onto pastures new,” Menko said.
But employers were “pulling out all the stops” to hold onto their best HR staff and ‘soft’ benefits that had less impact on the company’s bottom line were starting to become more commonplace as a result to keep them happy, he added.
Company performance alone was used to calculate HR bonuses in only 16% of cases, however, down from 19% in 2009, with the trend being more towards rewarding employees based on their own performance.