By Claire West

At a time when HR professionals’ services are at a premium, the latest Personnel Rewards Survey reveals that one in five are looking to change their job. The results of the annual survey by Croner Reward (www.cronersolutions.co.uk), the pay and benefits specialist, part of Wolters Kluwer, highlights low pay and bad management as being the key drivers in their decision to move.

Many personnel professionals reported pay freezes last year with 46% of private sector and 13% of public sector respondents reporting unchanged salaries. Of those that did see an increase, the average award was 2%. The outlook is slightly better for the coming year with people reporting an average forecast of 2.5%.

Another key factor precipitating the trend towards job change is the long hours that personnel professionals have to work, with almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents saying that they work more than the typical contracted 39 hours per week — 30% more than five years ago. Additionally, over a quarter (27%) of respondents work 46 hours a week or more, a significant increase from just 11% in 2005.

Viv Copeland, Head of Client Services at Croner, commented on the results saying: “It is incredibly worrying that one in five personnel professionals in the UK is looking to move job as it shows that organisations are not doing enough to engage their employees. It is particularly noticeable that this is a significant increase from only five years ago, showing that much more needs to be done to reassure staff of their value despite the economic turmoil.

“It is crucial that employers keep up-to-date with the facts on market pay, otherwise they risk losing key professionals who feel underpaid and undervalued. However, for the many organisations under pressure to cut budgets, it is important to remember that simple pay rises are not the only way to show the importance of your staff and keep them feeling motivated. Employers must do everything they can to ensure that staff are well-managed, engaged in interesting and stimulating work and have a good work-life balance.”

The survey compares pay levels in different sectors and revealed that graduates looking for HR roles are better off in the public sector, which pays 14% above the survey average, than the private sector where they would receive 2% below the survey average. Pay for different roles within the HR function also varies, with compensation and benefits specialists receiving 13% more than the average senior manager and health and safety specialists receiving 3.5% less.

The survey also reveals that 42% of personnel professionals do not feel that their contributions to the organisation are recognised in a good or excellent way, and that almost one in five (18%) feel they have a poor or bad work-life balance.