Pay growth for Australian millennials is stunted

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  • Younger workers are getting smaller wage rises than their older colleagues.
  • The groups not getting rises are those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 34.
  • Recruiters have noticed a trend of people more willing to move jobs frequently, picking up pay rises greater than they would have had they stayed at their jobs.

Australia’s younger workers are getting smaller wage rises than their older colleagues.

Generally all age groups tend to benefit from higher income growth when the economy is strong and all age groups tend to experience lower income growth when the economy is weak.

However, according to analysis of inequality in Australia by the Productivity Commission, some age groups benefit more or less than others at certain times.

“Most recently, young people’s incomes have grown relatively slowly,” the report says.

Some Australian workers, in particular millennials, have seen little income growth since the GFC.

Source; Productivity Commission

At the moment, wage growth is weak overall, running at barely more than 2% a year. That’s an average, so some are doing better than others.

The Productivity Commission analysis says the age groups not getting rises are those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 34.

Recruiters, when conducting annual salary surveys, have noticed a trend of people more willing to move jobs more frequently, picking up pay rises greater than they would have had they stayed at their jobs.

Others stay in their jobs because they are able to get better benefits instead of cash. This is especially so for millennial who will stay if the benefits are right and if the role fits their career goals.

A survey of 1,000 Australian office workers, commissioned by recruitment firm Robert Half, found the majority (84%) would be willing to accept a lower salary for more benefits.

Flexibility tops the charts as almost half (47%) would be willing to accept lower pay in return for flexible working hours. Other preferred benefits include the option to work from home (40%), increased holiday allowance (37%), medical benefits (36%) and travel allowances such as company cars and fuel expenses (31%).

“Salaries should increase as responsibilities become broader and more complex,” says Andrew Morris, Director of Robert Half Australia.

“But recent wage price indexes show this isn’t always the case. Faced by slow wage growth, working professionals are being increasingly creative and are asking their boss for more benefits rather than just a higher salary.”

Morris says negotiating benefits needs to be part of an ongoing discussion between employees and managers, with benefits tailored to each individual employee’s need.

While salary is still a prime motivator, non-financial incentives, such as flexible working hours, the option to work from home and professional development opportunities, are strong motivators for employees across multiple generations.

“Millennials in particular do not always seek out a higher salary but are more attracted to roles that suit their career aspirations and they thrive in a flexible and transparent workplace with open lines of communication,” Morris says.

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