Exec salaries stagnate despite talent shortage

Thursday 8th July 2021 Justin Cleveland

Executive salaries have stagnated – or even dropped – despite a general shortage of talent. A survey from Aon and the Governance Institute of Australia (GIA) found that only 25% of CEOs saw an increase in fixed remuneration. Those that received a pay rise say a smaller increase, just 1.4%.

"Australia is currently in a period of low wages growth and it's clear senior executives and board directors are not immune from this," said GIA CEO Megan Motto. "Against the backdrop of the last 12 months, companies must think carefully about the reputational impact of increases for executives and directors.

"When so many in the community face economic uncertainty, people want to see the 'pain' spread evenly."

Aon Rewards Solutions principal Dawson Wang says, "The data suggests that within the ASX300 and the surveyed participants, the remuneration environment for both executives and non-executive directors can be best described as stagnant.

"It will be interesting to see the flow-on effect and impact on executive movement as the economy continues to rise above pre-pandemic levels and confidence returns."

Career YOLO

The challenge is that economic uncertainty continues. Sydney is locked down for another week and there are various restrictions around the country. While that is largely keeping people in their job, preferring security to potential growth, it isn't going to last forever.

Career coach Kate Richardson notes, in a recent survey from recruiter Hays, that more than a third of Australians plan to quit their job in the next month. "Sure there are the usual reasons like wanting a better culture, more pay, and increasingly greater flexibility," she says.

"You can definitely add lack of career development after a year of being stuck behind zoom calls and losing opportunities for promotion and progression."

Richardson also says that the last year has given people the chance to reflect on the trajectory of their career, giving them professional YOLO (you only live once). "Covid has brought the ‘what’s it all for?’ question to the fore, prompting (and in some cases forcing) people to think about work differently."

It's about reimagining what success looks like.

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