Modest pay raises could be ahead for top-rated workers in 2014

January 12, 2014 

You’ll probably get a raise in 2014. But unless you’re a star at work, you’ll hardly notice. A survey by Towers Watson Data Services found that employers were planning to bestow pay increases that will average 2.9 percent in 2014. Kiplinger expects the inflation rate to be 2 percent in 2014, so an employee who gets the average raise will more than keep up with rising prices.

But averages can be deceiving. There is a wide gap between the pay raises for top-rated workers and raises for employees with average or below-average ratings. Towers found that office stars received increases of 4.6 percent in 2013 — well above the 2.6-percent pay hike granted to workers rated average and way more than the 1.3 percent received by those rated below average. Bosses also will be doling out bigger bonuses to valued employees as an incentive to stay put.

Even if you think you’re a hot shot, it’s no time to rest on your laurels. “The way to get a better performance rating is to make sure you have clarity with your manager about priorities for the year,” says Laura Sejen, a global compensation expert at Towers Watson. “Try to get feedback throughout the year so you can make a mid-course correction if you need to.”

Projected increases for starting salaries are on the rise in 2014, especially if you’re in the right industry. “It’s a tale of two job markets,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at placement firm Robert Half.

To lure new hires in high-demand fields, employers are boosting starting salaries. In fields in which Robert Half helps place employees (including technology, accounting and finance, marketing, office support and the legal profession), starting pay will increase by an average of 3.7 percent for new hires in 2014.

The hottest jobs are even more lucrative. Can you develop mobile apps? Expect to be offered a starting annual salary of $100,000 to $144,000, up nearly 8 percent from 2013. Senior accountants, financial analysts with a few years’ experience and lawyers with four to nine years’ experience will see salaries that are at least 4 percent higher than last year’s, with pay of up to $77,000, $70,000 and $187,500, respectively.

To boost your chances of getting hired — or getting ahead — polish “soft” skills such as public speaking, writing and listening. It used to be that tech people could stay in the tech department. Now, says McDonald, “people work in teams. You have to learn how to speak to non-experts across the organizational chart.”

Anne Kates Smith is a senior editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.

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