West Midlands most likely region to invest in salaries - report

01 December 2021

Bosses in the West Midlands are almost three times more likely to invest in salaries than those in the East Midlands, new research by law firm Shakespeare Martineau has revealed.

Almost one quarter (24 per cent) of leaders from the region said they will be ploughing cash into wages over the next 12 months, compared to just nine per cent of those working in their eastern counterparts.

One thousand senior decision-makers in UK businesses were surveyed by Censuswide on behalf of Shakespeare Martineau as part of its annual Ambition Index.

West Midlands bosses also spoke about how a lack of time and imposter syndrome are holding them back as leaders.

Jo Deffley (pictured), partner and regional head of Shakespeare Martineau in the West Midlands, said: “There is a lot of competition out there from London and the West Midlands is feeling under pressure as a result.

“The region also has excellent transport links to the rest of the country, which means employees can demand higher wages. With huge hiring power and more than 2,500 people working for the bank, HSBC’s Birmingham headquarters, which opened in 2019, is also likely to have forced salary increases in the region.

“When you combine the above with what has been dubbed the ‘great resignation’ and a skills shortage across all industries, it is easy to see why many businesses in the West Midlands will be investing in salaries in order to attract talent.”

Loneliness among leaders from the West Midlands more than doubled during the coronavirus pandemic – surging from 28 per cent to 62 per cent. Ambition levels also dropped, with 87 per cent of bosses feeling determined pre-Covid, compared to 74 per cent during the pandemic.

When asked what is holding them back as leaders, 30 per cent of respondents said a lack of time and 21 per cent selected imposter syndrome, with more than half (56 per cent) stating that the latter made them feel more lonely and isolated.

Jo said: “Being in a senior leadership role can be a lonely place as people are trying to maintain a managerial professional relationship with their teams. Those at the top are also more encouraged to think about others, and their own physical and mental health is always last on the list.

“Among younger leaders in particular, 18 months of isolation and virtual meetings has made it more difficult to be able to read how your team, peers or clients ‘see’ you and has no doubt led to an increase in feelings of self-doubt. With no body language cues or interaction, being on a screen is very different to being in person, which drives imposter syndrome and self-doubt.

“However, it’s important that leaders know they are not alone and that they should talk about the emotional – as well as the practical – side of leadership with peers and trusted advisors.”

Almost 30 per cent of West Midlands business leaders will be investing more in their business in 2022 than this past year. Technology (38 per cent), IT (36 per cent) and entering new markets (33 per cent) topped the list of resources bosses will be investing in, followed by product development (28 ) per cent and salaries (24 per cent).

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