The Works Search reveal their Salary Guide for 2020 – look who is paying more

2020 Salary Survey
Posted: Jun 2020

A survey carried out by The Works Search, PR and Communications executive search consultants, took a close look at salaries, bonuses and benefits in their Annual Salary Guide 2020.

The Works Search checked over 3000 database records and polled 350 corporate comms professionals to share insights on their pay and company benefits, in particular the value they place on flexible working options. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen businesses adopt remote and flexible working practices, in a number of different shapes and forms, at an unprecedented rate. As we continue to experience a global shift to new ways of working, the findings of the survey around flexible working and the wellbeing of employees are particularly pertinent.

Who’s getting the biggest increases – in-house or agency professionals?

  • There has not been much movement in either in-house or agency salaries
  • The average salary increase (6%) is the same as reported in 2018
  • More in-house professionals received a pay increase – 77% against 71% of agency professionals
  • Agencies tended to reward their employees with bigger increases
  • A healthy proportion of respondents (65%) were happy with their pay overall

Who’s getting the best bonuses?

  • Agencies have overtaken in-house comms teams – for the first time since The Works Search started publishing this Guide 11 years ago
  • In-house bonuses as a proportion to base salary have fallen 3 percentage points on average since 2018
  • Agency bonuses have increased by the same margin.

Flexible working is the most coveted benefit – is it time to make it compulsory?

  • 63% of in-house teams benefit from a flexible working policy (an increase of 28 percentage points on 2018’s result)
  • 41% of agency professionals have the option to work flexibly – significantly lower than in-house employees, but an increase of 10 percentage points on the 2018 figure.
  • In short, employers have recognised that the desire for more flexibility in the workplace is strong
  • 99% of women polled consider flexibility extremely important or very important
  • 90% of men feel the same way

Sarah Leembruggen, Managing Director at The Works Search, says, “While our survey shows encouraging results for employers, with the majority of our respondents being satisfied with their pay, our working world has undergone such a dramatic shift in these past couple of months that the focus is now very much on the way we work. It is important for employers to communicate how we will be working as we prepare to return to the office (or not). Now that we have all tried and tested the WFH model, remote and flexible working will be at the forefront of every employer and employee’s mind.”

With the current situation unlikely to return to normal any time soon, and many people suggesting that we may never return to pre-COVID-19 working practices, companies are certainly going to lead a much more flexible approach to work.

Victoria Buchanan, Director & Head of PR at Savills has seen first-hand how WFH has worked brilliantly for many PR professionals, but also how for some they have missed the office culture. “This time has shown a lot of people how well they can work from home but many also like being in the office; they like the in-person collaboration, the fact that they can go to the gym at lunchtime, and be an active part of a work culture.  Having a balance is important for mental health.”

Tom Nutt, Head of Corporate UK & Europe at Grayling, notes, “We already had ingrained flexibility in our flexible working policy, but the uptake wasn’t as great as the need. This is one thing I hope will now change.”

As businesses start to ease back into face-to-face collaboration while expanding the acceptability of remote / flexible working having seen that it works, Nutt says, “The expectation of employee from employer will be that flexibility is set in stone as a requirement, and people will be expected to behave in a responsible manner and keep each other informed of where they are, and what other things are going on in their life, such as needing to pick up the kids from school. Flexibility means flexibility, rather than a flexible working policy that can come with a lot of inflexibility.”

To receive a copy of The Works Search Salary Guide 2020, click here.

To read our exclusive coverage from PR Week, click here.

For more advice on benchmarking salaries and bonuses, or you think we can help you with a search for a high performing corporate communications professional for your organisation, please get in touch with Sarah Leembruggen on 020 7903 9290 or email

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