In a new survey, HR professionals identified pay and grading structures as the top priority for upcoming organisation reward plans. 

New research by XpertHR shows that almost half of reward professionals (49 per cent) identified robust pay and grading structures as their top priority for the year ahead.

For employers, these structures are the logic that underpins pay rates, job roles, and career paths. While, for employees, they explain their position within the company and map out how the employee can progress through the firm.

Despite the integral nature of these structures, nearly half of companies (46 per cent) confessed that they do not have existing structures in place. Of the companies that do, over four in five (85 per cent) admitted to encountering problems with them.

Common issues for organisations include inadequate scope for progression (46 per cent), level pay market alignment (35 per cent), clear career paths (30 per cent) and grade drifting (26 per cent).

As such, the next most important priority for businesses included salary benchmarking which was identified as a primary focus for almost half of respondents (48 per cent).

However, the survey did find that checking salaries and reward packages against the current market is a common occurrence, with almost nine in 10 reward professionals (88 per cent) doing so.

Due to the current circumstances, the research notes that organisations need to strike a balance between establishing competitive and fair salaries to attract and retain suitable staff, while keeping in-budget during this financially constraining time.

As such, it encourages HR professionals to base remuneration decisions on solid evidence that is relevant and timely for their market and can be used to inform their organisation’s reward strategy.

Ed Cronin, Research manager, employee reward, XpertHR and Cendex said:

These headline results tell us that employers don’t want to leave reward spending to chance. They want to link employee reward to the actual labour market through high quality pay benchmarking. Businesses also want to use pay and grading structures to align their overall people strategy across an organisation.

*XpertHR’s survey on reward planning and priorities was conducted March 2021. Responses were received from 224 organisations.






Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.