West Midlands most likely region to invest in salaries

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%) of leaders from the region said they will be ploughing cash into wages over the next 12 months, compared to just 9% 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, 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% to 62%. Ambition levels also dropped, with 87% of bosses feeling determined pre-Covid, compared to 74% during the pandemic.

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

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

Deffley said: “This is a very encouraging sign. While we need business to invest to grow and support economic recovery, it is pleasing to see that leaders are also looking inwardly and building business resilience through investing in their people and IT systems to improve efficiencies.

“It is not surprising to see that of those who are investing, there is a focus on new products. The West Midlands is at the heart of the UK manufacturing and advanced engineering, and product development is the life-blood of these industries. This can support businesses step into new markets locally and internationally.

“Many businesses in the sector have diversified in order to survive the double whammy of Brexit and the pandemic. Many have stepped up to make ventilators for intensive care units, PPE for hospitals and hand sanitiser, for example. As we emerge from the pandemic, it is clear they are now more confident when it comes to delving into new markets and it is positive to see so many prioritising this moving forward.”