IDR | 21 Sep 2021

Differentials for HR salaries show clear pattern

While pay levels for HR roles rise with seniority, percentage differentials between roles show a strong inter-relationship, according to a recent survey from IDR. The median salary for HR assistants is £24,000, while at the other end of the scale the median salary for HR directors is £97,158. Survey participants largely placed HR managers and business partners at the same job level, and the median salaries for these roles broadly reflect this, at £46,280 and £48,500 respectively. Throughout the survey business partners are found most often in larger public sector and related organisations, and the potentially greater impact that the role can have on these organisations, along with the ability to pay higher salaries that is normally correlated with organisation size, is the likely reason for the small positive differential over the median for HR managers. Showing further how salaries rise with seniority within HR, the median salary for HR advisers is lower at £33,292 while that for HR function heads is higher at £67,470.

The differentials between median salaries for the different roles are broadly maintained, even as seniority increases. That between HR assistants and HR advisers is 39%, and the differential between HR advisers and HR managers is the same. The differential between HR advisers and HR business partners (HRBPs) is a little wider at 46%, but after this the next median gap, between HRBPs and HR function heads, narrows again to 39%. The differential at the top, between function heads and directors, is broadly in line with all these at 44%. 

It is important to note the composition of the sample, with the survey particularly well-responded to by organisations in the public and not-for-profit sectors (53%). Therefore, the results of the survey are less representative of the private sector, who make up 47% of the sample, than might be the case if the responses reflected the actual relative proportions of the different sectors across the economy. Indeed, our survey database broadly reflects the normal division, with a large majority of private sector organisations, and our previous survey of HR roles, in 2018, also reflected this division, so we’re unsure as to why the response rate here was comparatively lower this time. Perhaps it is connected to the timing of the survey and capacity/interest among larger private sector organisations during a critical period. In any case, the response has skewed median salaries towards levels in the public/NFP sector, which for these roles usually pays less than the private sector.