As the HR climate heats up, employers need more than just salaries to compete
The Sector > Workforce > Leadership > As the HR climate heats up, employers need more than just salaries to compete

As the HR climate heats up, employers need more than just salaries to compete

by Freya Lucas

April 13, 2023
Three women are looking at a laptop

Recruitment in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, as with many other sectors in Australia, is under pressure. Multiple vacancies and strong competition in the recruitment space is forcing employers to think more deeply about what they offer the candidates who approach them for work. 


The newly released 2023 Salary Guide, from specialised recruiter Robert Half has revealed that almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of Australian employers have had a candidate accept a job offer because of their company’s benefits package, even when they were unable to meet the candidate’s salary expectations.


Amongst the most popular non-salary perks are flexible work schedules, mental health programs, remote work options, additional paid parental leave and wellness programs. 


70 per cent of the employers involved in the survey have plans to increase their benefits package in 2023 to attract and retain talent, with an early finish on a Friday afternoon (30 per cent) and a compressed working week (29 per cent) the two most popular benefits being planned.


Businesses might not be in a position to award pay rises or higher starting salaries amid economic uncertainty, said Nicole Gorton, Director at Robert Half, acknowledging that while salary is a prime motivator and the main incentive of a remuneration package, offering a competitive salary is just one piece of the puzzle.


“Businesses are increasingly recognising the power of benefits to land, motivate, engage and keep their top performers,” she added, noting that diversifying incentive offerings beyond the purely financial aspect helps professionals seek “the complete package” and place added emphasis on quality of life.


Employers are now considering how to go beyond what is currently being offered to stand out as an employer of choice. Flexible work arrangements are not only among the most common benefits currently offered, they are also part of the most popular perks and benefits to be introduced in 2023, in line with employees’ priorities when evaluating a job. 


Some Australian employers are planning to extend the provision of commonplace leave entitlements, such as extra paid annual leave (27 per cent), paid parental leave (27 per cent) and a leave of absence or sabbatical (25 per cent), while others intend on offering paid domestic violence leave (27 per cent) and paid menopause leave (25 per cent) to employees.


Allowances and assistance programs are also planned to be offered more commonly, with Australian employers intending to provide a remote work business allowance (28 per cent), a car allowance (26 per cent) and subsidising meals (25 per cent) at work. 


Further modern perks such as wellness programs (25 per cent), the ability to make extra superannuation contributions (24 per cent) and childcare assistance (24 per cent) are also on the cards for more Australian employees.


Other options being considered by employers include offering reproductive health benefits to support IVF treatment (22 per cent), health insurance (25 per cent) and financial planning assistance (27 per cent).


Training and development opportunities also remain a focus of employers, with more than one in four (28 per cent) planning to provide a training allowance to help employees upskill. 


“To empower their employees and elevate their organisation as an employer of choice, business leaders are upping the ante when it comes to their benefits program,” Ms Gorton said.


“Australians are actively seeking out job opportunities that not only satisfy their monetary ambitions but also their lifestyle needs, such as financial and mental health support being offered on top of the highly sought-after flexibility benefits.


“A company’s perks and benefits structure is reflective of their wider corporate culture, so innovative and comprehensive packages not only help attract and retain top talent, but they can also support a long-term talent pipeline of employees and help build staff engagement overall,” she said. 


The study mentioned in this piece was developed by Robert Half and was conducted online in November 2022 by an independent research company, surveying 300 hiring managers, including 100 CFOs and 100 CIOs, from companies across Australia. 


This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management, and trends in the workplace. 


View the findings in full here

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