Headlines: November 3rd, 2004

New figures show voluntary organisations have an increased sense of confidence about staff recruitment and retention. The 16th Annual Voluntary Sector Salary Survey, published by Remuneration Economics in association with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations finds that just over forty per cent of participating organisations are predicting an increase in full time staff numbers in the coming year.That is matched by a fall from 17.6 per cent to just 6.4 per cent in the last year in the number of organisations predicting cuts in full time staff. The UK Voluntary Sector Almanac estimates that the voluntary and community sector now employs 569,000 paid staff, equivalent to one in 50 of the working population. One in three charities now employ paid staff.

In spite of this growth in the number of staff and of employers, Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO said the voluntary sector infrastructure clearly needed to do more to support those carrying out the human resources function in voluntary organisations. “The Government’s recognition of the importance of workforce development in its ChangeUp strategy, and its funding of a Hub to help with employment issues in the voluntary sector is a welcome development,” he said.

Key findings in the salary survey show the average general pay increase in the last year was 3 per cent. That is in line with the Retail Prices Index but below the Average Earnings Index, which stands at 4.5 per cent. Remuneration Economics also tracked the actual salaries of more than four thousand individual employees over a 12-month period and found their salaries rose by an average rate of 4.1 per cent.

The study also revealed a fall in the rate of staff turnover and the number of organisations reporting problems with staff retention. Smaller charities, though, have generally higher resignation rates at around 10 per cent compared to a whole survey rate of 7.3 per cent.

Mr Etherington said knowing how and at what level to set pay levels was a core need for voluntary organisations and this would be increasingly important as the sector became more professional and employed more staff.