Pay for New Hires Holding Steady Despite Pandemic

Pay for New Hires Holding Steady Despite Pandemic

28% of senior managers have increased starting salaries for new hires since COVID-19 crisis hit
Coworkers welcome a new employee

Though the pandemic has had a negative impact on the economy, that doesn’t mean your paycheck will suffer if you get a new job.

Most companies are still willing to use salary to lure top talent, according to new research by staffing firm Robert Half.

In fact, 44% of senior managers said the starting salaries they are offering new employees have stayed roughly the same since the early phase of the pandemic and 28% said starting salaries have actually gone up.

Employers willing to negotiate

While the unemployment rate has hit record-highs in recent months, new hires may still have some power when it comes to commanding a competitive salary. Half of senior managers (50%) said they are just as willing to talk money with new employees now as they were a year ago, before the pandemic and its resulting economic fallout. On top of that, 36% said they are even more open to the idea of salary negotiation with new hires today than a year ago.

If you live in Texas or North Carolina, you may have even more leverage. Austin, Texas, has the highest percentage of employers (51%) who said they would be more willing to negotiate with new hires this year than last. Austin was followed by Raleigh, N.C., where 48% of employers are more willing to negotiate and Charlotte, N.C., where 45% of employers are more willing to negotiate this year.

You’re also more likely to find that a potential employer is open to negotiating if you’re interviewing at a larger company, as 44% of managers at midsize companies with 500 to 999 employees said they were more likely to negotiate now than 12 months ago, compared to only 28% of managers at smaller companies with 20 to 99 employees.

With companies open to accommodate employees, brushing up on your negotiating skills could prove to be profitable. Women and people of color may even find opportunities to negotiate their way out of the pay gap.

Retaining employees may be a challenge

The short-term future may not be as bright for long-time employees. Nearly half of senior managers (47%) said they are ‘very concerned’ that their firms may not be able to retain valued staff and 41% said they are ‘somewhat concerned.’

Of those managers with concerns, 39% said a factor contributing to their worry is recent salary reductions and company plans for salary freezes.

Minneapolis had the highest percentage of senior managers (52%) who were concerned that salary cuts and cancelled raises would hurt employee retention. Minneapolis was followed by Tampa, Fla. where 50% of managers had concerns and Portland, Ore. where 49% of managers had some worries.

An earlier survey also found that employees have become less satisfied with the benefits packages offered by their companies since the start of the crisis. That could also impact employee retention.

Methodology: Robert Half surveyed more than 2,800 senior managers between July 10 to Aug. 9, 2020. The survey sample was chosen from companies with 20 or more employees in 28 major cities across the United States.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.