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Salary Guide 2022: salaries and bonuses bounce back, hybrid working most sought-after benefit

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Posted: May 2022

This is the 13th year of publishing our much-anticipated Annual Salary Guide for PR and Comms professionals – and what a year it has been, as we’ve adapted our lives to new realities post-pandemic, with professionals across the industry forced to critically examine their lifestyle choices and ways of working, and what they want moving forward.

The findings of our survey reflect how the industry bounced back healthily in 2021. PR and comms leaders have had to take initiatives to transition their business out of the lockdown culture to thrive again, and look closely at how to attract much sought-after new talent, as well as retain their current employees.

In a highly active jobs market, with turnover at unprecedented levels, we encourage leaders to use the information in our Guide to benchmark salaries and bonuses and use the insights to attract and retain employees - particularly around flexible working. We also look at turnover, promotions, how women fared, and diversity and inclusion.


How do post-pandemic salaries and bonuses look in corporate communications?

Our survey takes an in-depth look at salaries, bonuses and benefits, and is based on the responses of 335 corporate comms professionals, with data being checked against an additional 1,000 database records over the January - December 2021 time period.

The findings from this survey are, unsurprisingly, very different to what we reported in the previous year; they reflect the return in confidence in the economy, and the fact that more organisations are looking to replace roles and expand teams. Our survey shows that this positive upward trend has resulted in a noticeable increase in salaries and better bonuses across the industry.


Some of the key findings on pay:

  • Agencies are fighting to hold on to their talent with more receiving healthier salary increases compared to in-house comms professionals, although the average was the same at a 2.5% increase
  • Most in-house comms professionals took home pay increases of 1 - 5% compared to a similar portion of agency professionals receiving 1 – 10%
  • A very healthy amount of agency professionals (32%) received the bigger salary increases (11 - 30%) compared to just 17% of in-house respondents
  • Delivery levels in agencies (from Account Executives to Associate Directors) have fared particularly well, with an average 7.5% salary uplift, compared 2.5% for the equivalent levels in-house


On bonuses:

  • 68% of respondents received a bonus – a significant leap from the 59% reported during the previous year
  • Average agency bonuses now match those rewarded to in-house professionals, both standing at 18%
  • More in-house professionals received a bonus (72% compared to just 60% in agencies)


Who pays more – in-house or agencies?

The total compensation (base salary and bonus, no other benefits) is similar for in-house professionals and their equivalent levels at agencies, with in-house professionals faring slightly better (e.g. £60k for in-house Comms Manager vs £57k for agency Account Directors; £88k for Senior PR/Comms Managers vs £84k for Associate Directors). However, when it comes to senior level, agencies could be considered a better place to earn.

Our findings show that agencies have upped their game when it comes to compensation; it is widely believed that in-house roles pay better, but the data tells a different story at a senior level.


Benefits shift to focus on hybrid working

Since the pandemic reshaped the way we work, comms professionals now say that hybrid working is the benefit they value the most. Men and women alike enjoy hybrid working, and most won’t consider a role now if there isn’t flexibility in place. Only 2% of professionals said they would work 5 days a week in the office when applying for a new role. Interestingly, only 10% wanted 5 days remote working. The most desired balance is 3 days in the office, 2 remote.

We have been inundated with candidates looking for a new role and requesting hybrid working, stating quite clearly how many days they find acceptable to work in an office – it’s a key driver in their decision-making process.


Lots of comms professionals are on the move

In a very active hiring market, our survey revealed:

  • 58% of professionals who changed jobs moved to an-house role
  • 27% moved to an agency role
  • Agencies were clearly feeling stretched during the ‘great resignation’ with 57% describing their turnover as higher than normal to very high, compared to 27% describing the turnover in the same way in-house


These are just a few examples of the survey’s findings. Look out for more commentary in the coming weeks in our series of blog posts that will delve deeper into topics raised in the survey. Make sure you are signed up to our newsletter here.

We hope you find the information in the Salary Guide 2022 interesting and useful.


Download your FREE guide now!



The Works Search: a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email sarah@the-works.co.uk.

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