Climbing

The UK has moved up the European pay league for middle managers and entry level positions over the past 12 months, according to the latest Global 50 Remuneration Planning Report from advisers Willis Towers Watson.

Base salaries for professional staff in this country, at both middle manager and entry level are now ranked 4th and 12th respectively, out of the top 15 European economies, compared to 7th and 13th in 2014.

For middle management, the UK ranks highly in terms of its base salaries, moving past Denmark, Belgium and Norway in this year's ranking. Despite the UK's rise, base salaries for the group remain just over £40,000 behind Switzerland which sits top at £111,576.

Despite moving up one place for entry-level professional positions, the UK remains towards the bottom of the league. Here, the average entry-level salary for professional roles is £25,953. The UK lags behind the likes of Denmark, Luxembourg, Germany and Norway, and Switzerland which pays more than double at £64,569.

Darryl Davis, senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson, said: “Our latest gross salary data shows positive movement at professional entry and middle-manager levels for the UK. However, entry-level pay in the UK remains considerably below the Continent’s highest-wage markets. However, we have seen middle-manager pay jump several places up the ranking, suggesting UK salary growth for this level is increasing at a faster rate than our Western European colleagues.”

When taking into account factors like taxes and the cost of living, the UK's climbs much higher to 6th on the entry level ladder. But Swiss employees still top the pay tables across all job levels with salaries over 20% higher than even the second-placed countries. As a result, even when taxes and cost of living are taken into account, Swiss workers still enjoy higher buying power than other Europeans.

Tom Hellier, UK practice lead of rewards at Willis Towers Watson, said: "The increase in UK pay, compared to Western European pay, has been a while coming and is welcome news. We know from our research that base pay is pivotal for keeping employees engaged at work. However, base-salary levels are only part of the story, specifically at entry level, so employers should look at the overall perceived value of their offers. Enhancing the non-financial aspects of the deal such as career-advancement opportunities, learning and development programmes and flexible work arrangements are essential to ensure companies remain competitive across the region."