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The state of pay

Pay may be static for many, but the dynamics of the jobs market mean both employers and employees are raising the stakes in other ways.

The results of Drapers' Salary Survey indicate what you can expect to pay for, or expect to earn in, one of the job roles we have covered. It is clear there are a lot of jobseekers for all kinds of roles, and so employers should have their pick. This is the reason cited for many job functions for why wages are static.

But that's not the whole story. Many people won't have moved job in the past year, or be looking to move employer in the next 12 months.

So we've run short polls among Drapers' readers to gather some additional insight about what's happened in their career in the past 12months, and to see how optimistic they are about their job prospects for the next year. The results are split into three areas - store staff (for both indies and multiples), retail head office staff, and staff within fashion brands. Although only a snapshot of the industry, the results are fairly compelling.

Store staff were least likely to have had a pay rise in the last year - 47% had not had one -but across all three polls the results show many have faced an income freeze, with 41% of retail head office staff and 36% of fashion brand staff saying the same. A further 30% of store staff said the pay rise they received was 5% or less and only 24%achieved a pay rise of more than 5%. As promotions and churn between employers is fairly high for those in stores then it is likely that those who are achieving these rises are doing so by changing role - whether it be an internal or external move.

For retail head office staff, pay rises have been similarly thin on the ground. In addition to the41% who have had no rise, 27% have had an increase of less than 2%. 28% have had a rise of 5% or more, but bear in mind that 48% have either been promoted or moved employer in that time and these rises seem less impressive.

Staff from fashion brands have done relatively better. With only 36% having had no pay increase, and an additional 14% receiving a less than 2% rise. Meanwhile, 35% have seen at least a 5% increase in their salary. The same percentage have moved employer or been promoted in that time.

The polls show staff are working harder and employers are giving them more responsibility. Among fashion brand staff, 79% have taken on extra responsibilities without being promoted in the past 12 months. Only 21% have moved employer, which shows there are a lot of people in the same job with the same employer who are doing more or stepping up.

This is partly down to the difficult trading environment, but it also demonstrates that employees are willing to add to their workload to gain more experience and bolster their attractiveness in a competitive jobs market. The story is the same for both store staff and head office retail staff, with 71% and 68%respectively having taken on more responsibility without moving job in the past year.

We asked the participants in our polls whether they expected to be promoted in the next 12months. Again, those working for fashion brands gave the most positive answers: 14% said they will definitely be promoted and a further 50% might be promoted. They are also open to moving employer to further their career: 21% are already looking for another job; 29% will begin to look for another job within the next 12 months; and 36% might look for another job in that timeframe.

Retail head office staff are less sure about opportunities to progress with their current employer. Only 10% said they would definitely be promoted, and 33% might be. They are also more cautious about changing employer, with 18% looking for a new job, and a further 18%definitely looking within 12 months, while 41% might look for a new job and 23% won't look.

Stores is the area of fashion retail with the most churn, and the results of our poll among these staff backs this up. Store staff are the least sure of definitely being promoted, but the most likely to be looking for another job. While only 6% will definitely be promoted, 41% believe they might be and 38% are looking for another job. A further 12% will definitely be looking within the year, 31% might look for another job and only 19% definitely won't look.

So, with a reasonable proportion of staff across all three areas either actively looking for a new role or open to new opportunities in the near future, we asked them what would be the primary reason that they would move role. The results chime with the trends we have seen for staff being willing to take on more responsibility, and also for some roles the motivation is about more than salary and pay rise potential. Half of those working for fashion brands said moving to a role with better career progression would be their primary motivation. And an additional 14% said a new challenge. Only 36% said a pay rise would be most important.

The fact they are ambitious and keen to move their career forward shows why so many have been prepared to take on more responsibility without a promotion to improve their future prospects. As they are most likely to have received a pay rise in their last year, they may be less focused on moving role to gain a pay increase.
Store staff are almost as likely to favour a job change to enable better career progression - 47% cited this as their main reason. A further 12% said a new challenge would be their number one reason for moving job, and 12% said moving to a higher-profile fashion retailer. Only 24% said a pay rise.

With some retailers struggling and the high-profile business failures of the past year, it is not surprising store staff are interested in a career with a retailer that is secure and can offer progression rather than a simple pay rise. Retail head office staff were more motivated by a salary increase - 41% said it would be their main reason for moving job. The same proportion had not received a pay rise in the past year, which may indicate why they are more motivated by pay. However, significant numbers of these staff had a primary motivation other than pay: 36% said a role with better career progression; 9% said a new challenge; and 5% said moving to a higher-profile fashion retailer. There are many motivated and engaged people working in the industry who understand that during challenging economic times climbing the career ladder is about more than pay. However, the results from head office staff show there is only so long that you can go without increasing your staff's salary - especially when large numbers are taking on more responsibility in their roles - before they will look for opportunities with other employers.

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