2017 Australia
Salary & Employment Outlook

In-depth insights into employment conditions, skills in demand, sector trends and salary benchmarks for your industry

Overview and insights

Hiring trends

HR professionals and senior executives are the most positive respondents, with 49% and 44% respectively stating they feel that hiring has been stronger or slightly stronger when compared to 12 months ago. 26% of managers indicated that hiring levels were weaker or slightly weaker than last year. The most positive industries are construction and customer service, with 54% and 64% saying they feel hiring levels are stronger or slightly stronger.

In terms of team growth, 43% of survey respondents in HR predict headcount increases. 41% of finance respondents, 44% of construction respondents and half of customer service respondents all expect headcount increases for their teams. In contrast, almost half of the respondents who are manager level and more than half of the respondents at the senior executive level expect no change in headcount for the next 12 months.

Contracting solutions

19% of total survey respondents not already using contracting solutions for their business are willing to consider hiring contract workers, with half of respondents in supply chain and logistics who are not using contracting are willing to consider contracting

Interestingly, 60% of construction respondents, indicated hiring contract workers helps source candidates for permanent positions.

Attraction and Retention

The top three factors for candidate attraction and retention are fairly consistent across most industries and professions, except for finance professionals, who say learning and development is as important as salary increment, following career progression and flexibility.

Customer Service

Organisations are investing heavily in both people and technology to improve the customer experience coming from their respective customer services teams. These teams are seen as a key part of the customer retention process for all organisations. Whether they be processing orders, providing information or value adding, the ability for a consumer or customer to provide instant feedback to the market (via social media for example) has driven high demand for improved capabilities within customer service teams.

There is a noticeable trend for organisations use customer service teams or even re-deploy field sales teams into phone based environments to proactively engage with a remote customer base (creating/expanding inside sales teams/functions). These teams are primarily focused on sales, up/cross selling while possessing intimate knowledge in technical and product based specifications. This has enabled organisations to be more effective at driving profitability and delivering a greater return on investment with this client base.

75% of organisations use contracting solutions, with 70% of those who don’t willing to consider it. Most organisations also pay contractors a higher salary.

Multilingual customer service professionals are in high demand, as are technical product based specialists with social media and online customer service skills.

Outbound customer service and/or sales professionals who are comfortable working in a B2C or B2B environment are required in every industry, this includes account managers and new business development professionals. Team leaders with dedicated experience coaching and developing teams are also highly regarded.

Entry level customer service roles are also required as these are high turnover positions yet have the biggest employee base in organisations.

A huge 80% expect a salary increase of between 1-5%, but the majority expect not to receive a bonus. This is mainly due to individual or team performance (with the exception being sales professionals who will expect bonuses based on performance).

The focus on capability improvement in customer service teams will only increase. If an organisation is not already talking about the ‘experience’ that their customer has with their business then they will need to move quickly to stay ahead of market movements. While customer service teams are all being asked to value add and engage in a commercial conversation with customers the ultimate aim will be to leave the customer feeling like they have had an outstanding experience, regardless of the outcome.

In addition, the next 12 months will definitely see organisations use inside sales professionals to help grow and drive their business more aggressively. This will be driven by proven phone based sales professionals who will engage, develop and ultimately create continued revenue pipeline at a fraction of the cost of traditional field based sales people.

There will be a continued focus on technical professionals who see customer service as a stepping stone into sales and account management or technical areas within businesses in the longer term.


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More organisations are transitioning new hires towards permanent employment from what has traditionally been a temporary focused market place. Greater focus on industry experience is complimenting this shift towards permanent roles.

Many organisations within the public sector are transitioning accounting systems to larger platforms like SAP and Oracle, which has led to a higher demand for credit and payable officers with system specific experience. Payroll as a business function continues to be candidate short. While there is a willingness for candidates to transition into payroll, companies are only looking for candidates with payroll experience in relevant industries who can utilise specific systems.

Multiple systems experience is of particular importance, including high volume processing and the ability to operate independently even while being part of a large team. There has also been more of an emphasis on making sure there is a strong cultural fit for an organisation and individual.

Particular roles in demand include

  • Payroll specialists at all levels
  • Bookkeepers/accounts all-rounders
  • Specific system requirements in general (examples include ADP/SAP/Chris21)

The majority of workers expect a salary increase in line with CPI, although no one is expecting anything over 10%. Nearly half do not expect a bonus, but just under 10% expect one which is clearly tied in with team performance.

Permanent hiring is expected to continue to strengthen as some functions are being brought back onshore. However, more payroll functions are expected to be offshored. It is expected there will continue to be more automation and streamlining of processes, particularly for Asia Pacific.

Team managers and skilled systems individuals will continue to be in high demand as businesses will transition systems and their teams require a re-education process.


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Office Support

Good office support candidates continue to be hard to find, with many choosing to remain with their current employers or holding out for permanent opportunities. There is a significant growth in permanent opportunities being advertised, which indicates that the market is now seeing value in the appropriate permanent admin support.

There is a continued and consistent increase in immediate need for immediate temporary support, resulting in an 80/20 split between contract and permanent roles overall across Australia.

A concern within the government portfolio is the requirement for administration staff to be subject to a daily rate as opposed to an hourly rate. This is placing considerable stress on candidates that have been working over eight hours per day and their ability to feel that they are receiving a fair rate for the work delivered.

There is a greater requirement for candidates able to fulfil ‘hybrid’ roles, with an expectation that candidates have diverse skill sets and greater emphasis being focused on candidates’ abilities to be adaptable during the interview process. This focus has resulted in the need for broadminded individuals with agile administrative backgrounds to execute multiple roles or amalgamated positions such as office manager/EA, data entry/sales coordinator or receptionist/administrator for example.

Legal secretaries are in high demand, however there is a significant shortage. Proven data entry and systems skills are needed in high volume, particularly the ability to utilise excel at an intermediate/advanced level. Individuals with a dynamic and engaging personality who can assist with client engagement or client facing interaction when required are also highly desirable.

Project support roles are increasingly in demand; these are typically hybrid roles requiring a diversified skill set. These include advanced MS Excel and Word capability to assist with drafting corporate documents.

The majority of office support workers do expect an increase in line with CPI however, no one is expecting anything over 5%. In a positive shift, 100% are expecting a bonus based on outstanding performance.


With the demand in hybrid roles becoming more apparent and a requirement for a broad range of skill sets, salaries will need to remain competitive.

There will be continued emphasis on the capability of senior EA candidates to grow and evolve. This will remain as businesses look to have this role add more value.

The temporary market will remain substantial with the split likely to remain 80/20 temp/perm. Clients will likely merge roles if they have the chance to continue to replace two positions for one headcount providing the right candidate possessing appropriate skills can be identified.

Expectations on EAs at the C-level will continue to evolve with potentially greater demands on day-to-day responsibilities. As organisations view the position more as a business partner, increased responsibility and greater involvement in business decision making will follow.


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Demand is picking up for strong candidates across the warehousing, transport and operations areas, both in-house and 3PL. Strong supervisors and decent middle management are in particular demand. There is also high demand for supervisory warehouse skills, transport management within FMCG and 3PL line-haul.

The majority of logistics workers do expect an increase with nearly three quarters expecting between 1-5%. This is different from other industries as 5% is indicated as the maximum expected.

Bonus expectations are fairly evenly split, with only 10% expecting over 11%.


The logistics market will continue to be strong, seeing an increase in newly created roles in the middle management level as companies continue to grow. This will remain strong across FMCG and 3PL.

Key reasons for moving on are mainly in line with other industries, with limited career progression and lack of remuneration taking the top spots. Different from all other industries, however, the lack of work-life balance and flexibility is seen as significant at over 25%.

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