OHS salaries still exceed environmental salaries

Wednesday, 16 April, 2008

Occupational health and safety continues to feature in the ‘sought after’ and highly rewarded jobs this year, reveals a recent remuneration survey.

The results of the 2007/08 SafeSearch Health, Safety and Environment Remuneration survey, conducted by recruitment firms SafeSearch and EnviroSearchGlobal, were compiled from data collected by over 50 Australian companies involved in industries as diverse as resources, manufacturing, telecommunications, professional services and government.

According to the survey, remuneration packages increased significantly when compared to the previous year, with an increase in the average total fixed remuneration from 2006/07 of 10% across all positions.

“This year’s survey recognises the highly topical area of environmental and sustainability roles by singling them out in a separate category from occupational health and safety,” says Julie Honore, managing director of SafeSearch. “No longer is it acceptable to ‘lump’ environment roles with OHS.

“The survey confirms that packages for entry level safety officer positions are now averaging more than $71,000 and general manager roles in the upper quartile exceed $328,000 per annum. The results are not a surprise to us but they will be revealing to some companies that have been struggling to fill roles.”

The survey, which is supported by the Safety Institute of Australia, reflects that general managers of environment and sustainability are being paid less than their counterparts in OHS, however Honoré warns that this will likely change dramatically over the next 12 months: “Already since the signing of Kyoto and the focus on environment from the Rudd government, we are seeing an increase in demand in this area, with leading organisations creating new positions and scrambling to capture the talent that is still available in the Australian market. It won’t be long before we need to start sourcing talent offshore as the complacency that has existed in Australia has left us behind countries such as the UK and New Zealand who are now way ahead of us in terms of their thinking and action they have taken.”

Commenting on the emergence of the environmental issue, the report states that the increased demand for senior environment managers following the recent introduction of new greenhouse legislation and the changing context of business in Australia is not yet reflected in the packages of professionals in this area. Although new senior environment roles were created in 2007 with significant increases in remuneration packages, this rise was not yet evident in the survey results. Rather, the survey reveals that general managers of environment take home salaries between 10–15% less than their OHS counterparts.

EnviroSearchGlobal director Zeki Akbas stated: “We expect next year’s report will show the full impact of the recent demand and consequent salary increases; however, the ‘big’ salaries will likely be reserved for those that can demonstrate business nous and a commercial approach, while managing the complexities of evolving regulation, climate change, carbon trading and sustainability.”

Honoré added: “We are continually being asked what makes a competitive remuneration package. We are advising clients that, although packages need to be competitive, candidates will also be keen to know what the company has to offer them in terms of their commitment to safety and the environment, as that is often a key driver for these people.”

Honoré said that companies have welcomed the opportunity to participate in a specialist survey, as the data is far more meaningful than generic surveys: “This holds particularly true in areas such as environment, which has really only started featuring on board and business agendas in a big way in recent times.”



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