Australian organisations seek skillsets for the “digitalisation of interaction”


Australia, 16 November, 2020 – Despite 64% of Australian organisations reporting that they would be implementing a salary freeze in 2020, according to Mercer’s 2020 Australian Total Remuneration Survey (TRS) organisations continue to invest in digital roles and are actively seeking professionals with skillsets in Sales, Marketing & Product Management, Engineering & Science and IT, Telecom & Internet.


As workforce processes and remuneration are being closely reviewed for 2021, HR will play a critical role in guiding business decisions about the size and shape of future workforces, annual salary increase budgets, and identifying which jobs are most critical to the business.  


“This year a new trend has emerged – the digitalisation of interaction,” said Chi Tran, Head of Mercer's Market Insights, Data and Analytics business in the Pacific. “The way we work and socialise has been forced to transform, and the way we understand all types of customers through data insights and targeted web campaigns has shaped evolving business strategies. Despite the impacts on salary as a result of the pandemic, the demand for these roles has skyrocketed over the last 10 months.”


In the early stages of the pandemic, 30% of organisations made a decision to reduce pay for some or all employees. However, as the pandemic continued many organisations reversed this decision as they judged it was not sustainable for the longer term, with 45% of organisations indicating they have no intention to reduce salary. While overall salary budgets are subdued – if not frozen – there remain clear market hot spots for specific jobs and skills that are critical for organisations.


“For the first time organisations are having to rely almost entirely on their digital user experience, and by default their own technological infrastructure. That’s why we’ve seen roles like Digital Marketing Strategy (experienced professional), Multi-Media Web Design (experienced professional) and Information Systems Security (entry professional) experience high annual base salary increases this year (9.5%, 14% and 8% respectively).


“Think, remote working, video calls and heavier reliance on online transactions – the way in which customers have adapted has accelerated the digitalisation of workforce transformation. On a granular level, undertaking this level of change requires new skillsets and organisations must ensure they are investing in the right talent through market insights to remain competitive and evolve to this new environment,” added Tran.


The Total Remuneration Survey (TRS) is the world’s largest and most comprehensive source of compensation and benefits market data. Given the rapidly evolving environment in 2020, this year’s TRS also features a special edition report and additional “pulse surveys” from Mercer’s global research team, capturing data on compensation planning during the peaks of COVID-19 uncertainty. The comprehensive 2020 Australia report captures data from May through July 2020 from over 890 participating organisations across a variety of industries, looking at salary market data for over 5000 roles. For more in-depth insights, learn more here



Additional findings

  • In July 2020, when the full impact of COVID-19 was becoming more apparent just over half of organisations (55%) indicated that they had already implemented, or would be implementing 2020 salary increases according to their original plans, while 30% had decreased their salary increase budget.
  • Out of the organisations that did not increase salaries in 2020, 64% reported that they would be implementing a salary freeze for all or some employees.
  • 2021 plans remain uncertain with just under two thirds (61%) of Australian organisations yet to finalise their 2021 salary increase budget. However, 20% of organisations indicated that their salary increase budget is expected to be lower than 2020.
  • Only 10% of organisations are considering implementing a salary freeze in 2021.
  • The jobs reported as the most difficult to recruit and retain were from the professional career stream within: Sales, Marketing & Product Management, Engineering & Science and IT, Telecom & Internet.
  • Within the Sales, Marketing & Product Management (SMP) job family, Digital Marketing Strategy - Experienced Professionals recorded one of the highest annual base salary increase of 9.5%, while Social Media Marketing and Web Content Marketing roles increased by 2% and 2.5% respectively.





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