Talent shortages: an opportunity to (re) negotiate your salary?

IT executive, engineer, nurse … you dreamed of seeing your salary increase this year, in reaction to the shortage, or at least to the strong demand for profiles like yours, what is your sector experiencing?

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It is not all that simple. First, the salary negotiations for 2022 do not show clear “winners” due to the crisis, even if some hospitals and some banks do show an increase to more than 0.8%, and companies like Migros a revaluation of their minimum wage. But these examples are rather the exception. “In 2022, we can expect prices to rise around 0.8%,” explains Daniel Lampart, first secretary and economist at the Swiss Trade Union Union. The increase in wages is in most sectors equal to or less than this rate and therefore consumed by inflation, which is equivalent to a real decrease in purchasing power. “

Also read: Migros employees demand a pay rise

Daniel Lampart also qualifies the shortages so announced: “We are far from the end of the 1980s when companies had to hire candidates who really did not have the profile and train them in post.”

Switzerland, a country apart

Talent shortage or not, salaries in Switzerland should not experience a significant and overall salary increase, adds Florian Ielpo, head of macroeconomics at Lombard Odier Investment Managers. “In Switzerland, we did not fiscal stimulus our economy as much as in Great Britain or the United States, limiting the extent of the shock which we are confronted today at the level of demand. A rise in productivity can result in either higher wages or an appreciation of the country’s currency – in Switzerland, it is the currency that tends to win. Our productivity efforts are generally captured by our strong franc, and not by our employees. ”

Under these conditions, “so that the little Swiss miracle continues”, Switzerland cannot afford to raise wages much, otherwise Swiss products would become less competitive abroad. “If our wages increase, it will be between 0.5% and 1% less than in the euro zone, and even much less than in Great Britain and the United States,” explains Florian Ielpo.

No general increase, therefore. But can candidates who work in high demand sectors play the card of the shortage to negotiate or renegotiate their salary?

In office, the process is more than delicate, believes Alain Salamin, compensation consultant, recalling first that in the public and the parapublic, there is no real negotiation possible. “But even in the private sector, there is a budget to increase salaries: if a manager increases you a lot, he will have to reduce someone else’s increases. At the time of a promotion, on the other hand, there is an opening for a more significant increase. “

An argument based on facts

However, the specifications of a professional with rare skills may no longer be up to date, notes Anthony Caffon, director in Geneva of the Michael Page recruitment office. “In this case, a very factual inventory of responsibilities and skills can still serve as an argument for an increase.”

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What not to do in post? The “utimatum blow”, or threatening to leave the company if the increase does not come quickly. “This almost blackmail can have an impact on the human relationship with the employer. If he may agree to give in at first, however, confidence may be shattered, ”warns Anthony Caffon.

When interviewing for a new position, on the other hand, the period may well represent an opportunity. On Thursday, a study by Von Rundstedt showed that in 2021 35% of people who found a job were able to increase their salary, 42% keep it at a stable level and 23% had to accept a reduction in their salaries. “External equity arguments can be put forward,” believes Alain Salamin. That is, data on the current market and the remuneration of people who have similar jobs in other organizations. Using for example, even if the tool is partial, Salarium, the statistical salary calculator of the Swiss Confederation. “Inflation is another concrete argument, since it affects purchasing power,” he adds. Anthony Caffon advises, however, to formulate a salary range and not a fixed number, to show flexibility.

We can also try to negotiate on other dimensions than the salary. But there’s no point in tempting it if they don’t match company policy. “Asking four days of teleworking per week when the organization has just established two does not make sense, judge Alain Salamin. You always have to argue where the person in front of you has leeway. ”

The risks of such an approach

Because prudence is in order: in terms of negotiations, subtlety is king. “The more specialized positions, in the IT or technical field for example, the less choice companies have when it comes to hiring. But if our profile is not unique, which is not always easy to assess, and our approach is arrogant, the position may well escape us, ”warns Alain Salamin.

A dimension that Anthony Caffon also emphasizes: “You have to showcase your self-confidence and your skills in high demand, but without risking cutting short all discussions. In a new business, we are not yet known. When the criteria for a candidacy seem only financial, it is very badly perceived. ” And to conclude: “Better to make a request a little higher but without necessarily insisting on its reasons. Employers know very well which skills are scarce and what they can involve financially. ”

Also read: How to negotiate a salary increase

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