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Ruya Yonak
11 min read

UK industry salary and benefit trends for 2024

Based on 23 million job ads across 30 industries, new Totaljobs research reveals the latest salary and benefit trends shaping recruitment in 2024. Download our Salary and Benefit guides to find out what candidates are looking for and how your compensation compares.

Key takeaways

  • The advertised median salary grew by 3.4% in 2023, compared to 4.1% in the year prior.
  • Salary satisfaction regressed slightly from 68% in 2022 to 66% in 2023.
  • Almost 7 in 10 (67%) say they received a pay rise in 2023; 3 in 10 workers expect at least a 3.7% pay rise to stay in their current jobs.
  • Two-fifths (41%) of workers are looking for a new role in 2024.
  • 44% of workers would be willing to go without a raise to get their most desired benefit. Almost two-fifths (38%) of workers say flexible working is their most desired benefit, followed by generous pension contributions, bonuses and extra paid leave.
  • Over half of workers would not apply to a job if it didn’t offer hybrid working (52%) or career progression (51%).

Market update: The impact of economic uncertainty and skills gaps on salary and benefits

In 2023, the economic landscape and ongoing skills shortages challenged employers and workers alike. Businesses needed to remain competitive to attract the talent they need, which meant that the UK wage growth reached record levels.

However, this growth didn’t reflect on real pay – which only increased 1.3% – while inflation remained twice as high as the Bank of England’s target. Consequently, our research found that 57% of workers are still worried about their earnings. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also reported that 4 in 10 adults (41%) struggle to pay their energy bills and over a third (37%) struggle to pay their rent or mortgage.

With rising costs squeezing workers’ incomes, Totaljobs’ research shows bigger salary increases in industries with lower pay such as Retail (15%), Customer Service (6%) and Travel (6%). Another factor for wage growth was the demand and competition for talent, in industries like Legal (12%), Accountancy (5%), Finance (5%), Healthcare (5%), HR (5%), Technology (5%), and Manufacturing (5%).

As vacancies declined and more people joined the workforce, the labour market started cooling in the final months of 2023. Although this was good news for employers, the ongoing skills shortages are still making it difficult to find the right talent.

Looking at our data, we see that employers are adjusting their offering and advertising learning and training, and career development and progression to train new talent as well as upskilling staff to fill skill shortages internally.

Below, we explore how changes in the economy, skill gaps and the cost of living reflected on pay and benefit packages at an industry level – and the actions your business can take to make sure your compensation remains competitive for the year ahead.

Across all 30 industries analysed, advertised salaries grew by 3.4% from 2022 to 2023. Wage growth especially slowed down toward the end of 2023, as salaries finally caught up with inflation.

Best performing cities for average salary remained the same as last year; with London coming on top, followed by Manchester and Birmingham.

top cities for average advertised salaries

Salaries increased more significantly for junior roles and in industries where pay was lower compared to other sectors. The increase in national minimum wage also contributed to pay rises in certain sectors such as Retail, Cleaning and Customer Service.

Industries with highest wage growth
6%Customer Service, Travel
5%Accountancy, Finance,
Healthcare, Human Resources, Technology, Manufacturing

Generally, industries where pay is below the median saw a higher bump – such as Retail, Customer Service and Travel. The highest growth was in the Retail sector as the national minimum wage increased and the demand for seasonal workers peaked. Pay rose more significantly for junior roles in most industries such as Legal, Accountancy, Human Resources, Healthcare, Finance, Manufacturing and Technology. The demand for talent was also a contributor to wage growth in some of these industries, especially where specialist skills are required like Legal, Finance, and Healthcare.

The average annual earnings gap between public and private sector wages is closing. Private sector workers saw wages increase 6.9% in August to October 2023 (the highest rates since records began in 2001) with public sector workers seeing a 7.3% increase.

Industries paying the highest median salary

average advertised salary by industry

Talent is in strong demand in the highest paying industries, with the roles within these sectors often requiring specialist skills and ongoing learning and training. This explains why salaries are higher than the average of the 30 industries analysed, with the median pay for industries sitting at £34,422.

Construction is the outlier as the only non-office based industry, however labour and skills shortages and the demand for qualified talent in this sector have been driving salaries up. Despite the recent challenges such as falling output and increased operating costs, Construction is a growing industry where the demand for workers is unlikely to slow down.

Salary satisfaction

Across 30 industries analysed, most workers (66%) said they were happy with their pay in 2023, but this was slightly lower than the year prior (68%). The two most common reasons workers cited were that their salary allowed them to live comfortably, and they felt satisfied by the work they do.

Those who were most satisfied with their salary tend to work in higher paying industries such as Insurance (84%), Technology (83%), Property (81%), Management (79%), HR and Construction (both 78%), Accountancy and Manufacturing (both 76%). However, the economic uncertainty led to those working in Banking and Finance industries to report lower salary satisfaction in 2023.

Generally, workers tend to be dissatisfied with their compensation in industries where salaries don’t meet the median pay. Additionally, people working in industries where skills and labour shortages are more prevalent report lower salary satisfaction, likely due to increased workload. These industries are Cleaning (53%), Banking and Healthcare (both 55%), Retail (58%), Education, Security and Customer Service (all 59%).

30% of workers would leave if they didn't receive an average pay rise of 3.7%

Over a third (34%) of workers are unhappy with their current pay, with the main reasons being that they feel their salary doesn’t reflect the time and effort they put into work (41%) or is not enough to live comfortably (37%). A quarter of workers (24%) say they would change jobs for a 6-10% pay increase, and 1 in 5 (22%) would for a 11-15% pay increase.

With lower-earning and junior roles seeing a higher percentage wage increase in 2023, the number of workers concerned about their salary due to the rise in cost of living fell significantly (from 70% in 2022 to 57%). Although this is positive news, it means that the majority of the workforce is still worried about their income.

We analysed the benefits offered by employers across job ads by sorting them into groups: financial, educational, general perks, wellbeing, and work-life balance. Looking across 30 industries, we see benefit trends emerging around educational and financial offerings such as learning and training and performance bonuses.

Meanwhile, our survey findings show that candidates prioritise work-life balance and wellbeing benefits such as flexible hours, extra paid holiday allowance and private health insurance. Our Salary & Benefit guides provide a view of how employers can align or bolster their benefits against their competitors to attract candidates.

benefits advertised vs. desired

With skills shortages impacting business growth, employers are leaning heavily on learning and training, and career development and progression offerings in 2023. In the current economic landscape, some businesses might be prioritising offering higher salaries and adjusting other financial benefits accordingly. However, as the cost of living continues to impact workers, most employers are likely to continue advertising pension contributions and bonuses.

The most attractive benefits

The benefits that attract most UK workers – for the second year running – are flexible hours, pension and bonuses, extra paid leave and private health insurance. Currently, there are over 2.5 million economically inactive people in the UK due to long-term illness. Conditions such as burnout and musculoskeletal pain are on the rise. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, workers have started to equally care about work-life balance, wellness and financial opportunities.

Benefit satisfaction

The majority (72%) of UK workers are satisfied with the benefits their employers offer. However, this is a slight decrease from 78% in 2022. Our findings suggest a trend in workers looking for benefits that significantly improve their lives or life plans such as; bonuses and pension, private health insurance, flexible and hybrid working, and extra paid holiday leave.

Over 3 in 5 (62%) workers know all the benefits their employer offers, while 1 in 5 (21%) workers in the UK say they receive no benefits at all. Those who receive benefits mostly feel these perks have helped improve their work-life balance (59%) and allowed them to live a more comfortable life (60%).

Advice for benchmarking salaries and benefits

According to the latest Hiring Trends Index, employers expect their biggest challenges to be operating costs (36%), meeting candidate salary expectations (30%), retaining staff (29%) and skills shortages (29%) in 2024.

Our Salary and Benefit guides provide an in-depth understanding of what matters most to candidates across 30 industries, showing how employers can build an attractive offer.

Below are some steps you can take to stay competitive and make sure you retain and attract talent.

  • Benchmark your salaries to stay competitive in the market and win the talent you need. Particularly as 73% of jobseekers cite salary as the biggest influence on their decision to apply for a role, and those open to changing jobs expect an average pay rise of 13.9%. Find out more on how to benchmark salaries effectively.
  • Offer appropriate pay rises to retain your workforce. HR leaders reported staff retention and engagement as their number one workforce priority for Q1 2024, according to our Hiring Trends Index. UK workers expect at least a 3.7% pay increase, with 3 in 10 saying they’ll look for jobs elsewhere if their employer can’t provide this pay increase.
  • Implement a fair salary review process to reward and retain your employees. Conducting a fair salary review and ensuring transparency around the salary review process by training managers to discuss compensation clearly and confidently with their teams can boost morale and increase staff engagement.
  • Consider providing a salary range on your job ads to attract more applicants. As salary remains the primary consideration for candidates, 86% say they would be put off by a job advert that describes the salary as ‘competitive’ or has no salary information.
  • Review and improve benefits to differentiate your offer and best support staff. Almost two-fifths (38%) of workers would skip a pay raise to secure flexible working, a generous pension package, or bonuses. A third would skip a pay rise to get private health insurance, and a similar amount (32%) for extra holiday allowance. Find out more on how to create a comprehensive benefits package.
  • Create a compelling brand story to attract the right talent. With 44% willing to skip a pay rise to get the top benefit they want; how can you ensure your whole offering appeals to the values of a changing workforce? Working with employer branding experts, Universum, we can help you identify where your brand sits in the global market, what your audience is looking for, and how to craft a compelling brand proposition to speak to these varied needs. Learn more about Universum

For an in-depth view on your industry, download the UK Salary and Benefit guides 2024

About our research

The data for our Salary & Benefits guides comes from OTT; an inhouse tool built by The Stepstone Group to look at job postings and all peripheral information (like salaries, region, skills etc). Salary and benefits data for Q1 2023 was pulled in January 2024 (to compare against Q1 in 2022). Vacancy and application for all of 2023 was also pulled in January 2024. Insights from a UK worker perspective come from two additional surveys conducted in December 2023 that went to a total of 5,000 UK workers. One survey was boosted for certain industries to ensure robust data, the other was weighted to be representative of age, gender and education across the UK workforce. The top 30 industries you see in our guides were selected based on the volume of job postings in 2022 and 2023, plus an understanding of which sectors would be of most value to clients.