Towers: UK moves up European pay leagues in 2014

31 December 2014

Wages of entry-level and middle manager professionals in the UK have increased in the past year, concludes research by Towers Watson, which resulted in the UK moving up the European pay ladder. Although salaries have increased, wages in the UK remain behind the European continents’ highest pays, as a result of which it will be possible for the UK to increase its wages while staying competitive.

The recently released ‘Global 50 Remuneration Planning Report’ by consulting firm Towers Watson is a benchmark planning report that contains the latest pay and benefits information for 50 key positions in 58 countries worldwide. The report has been designed to “help companies establish a consistent global compensation strategy and ensure compliance with local laws and practices.”

Towers Watson - Services

The 2014 edition of the report shows that in the past 12 months the UK has improved its position in the European pay league. Both the base salaries for professionals at entry and middle-manager level increased in 2014 compared to 2013. “The 2014 pay league tables suggest that UK employers are responding to certain pay pressures in terms of their base salary within the constraints of a challenging economy,” explains Carole Hathaway, Global Leader of Towers Watson’s Rewards Practice.

In 2013, starting professionals in the UK earned around £24,184 per annum (pa), with which the UK ranked last of the 15 European countries. In 2014, the same level professionals are earning £27,199 pa. With this increase in salaries, the UK surpassed Italy and Spain that both saw smaller increases in salaries. Just as in 2013, Switzerland is leading the pack in 2014 with a salary level of £66,671 pa, which is more than twice the pay an equivalent UK worker can expect, followed by Denmark (£47,677 pa).

Base salaries entry-level

The UK ranks higher in terms of its base-salary offering for middle-management, as it made the seventh place with a pay of £75,524 pa. This is an increase of more than £10,000 pa compared to 2013, when UK middle managers earned £64,832. With this increase in pay the UK now ranks higher than Ireland, Austria and the Netherlands. Again, Switzerland is ranked number one on the list, with salaries that are £43,000 higher than the UK, followed by Luxembourg, where middle-managers earn around £19,000 more than in the UK.

Base salaries middle manager

“While our latest gross salary data does show some positive movement for the UK, on the European level there still remains a considerable gap in gross salary terms between it and the Continent’s highest wage markets,” comments Darryl Davis, Senior Consultant in Towers Watson’s Data Services team. According to him, the differences in wages are not to be perceived as something negative. “For the economy as whole, though, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it means UK wages are able to grow in a healthy way while remaining competitive in cost terms versus other Western European economies.”


Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.