Taking a pay check; employee satisfaction requires more than salary

Posted in Blog on 4 Feb 2019

For legal professionals, there’s much more to job satisfaction than their salary, although being paid a bonus is important.


Our Salary and Benefits Benchmarker 2019 shows 57% of legal professionals are happy at work. This represents a 6% decline against 2018’s survey, whilst at the same time the average salary has risen over £2,200, moving from £46,270 last year to £48,491 in 2019.

As happiness has declined, the number of legal professionals receiving a payrise in their current role increased from 50% in 2018 to 53% this year. The average value of payrises hasn’t changed year-on-year, remaining at around 10% of salary.


Based on the responses of around 3,000 legal professionals, it appears career progression is a key driver of job satisfaction. Seeking out opportunities to further their careers was the over-riding factor for legal professionals deciding to switch firms.

The importance of career progression is further highlighted by 31% of legal professionals believing they couldn’t fulfil their leadership ambitions in their current firms. A further 33% were unsure if progression was possible. They cited reasons such as glass ceilings and no route for progression, which leaves employees frustrated and more willing to move jobs, even if they don’t increase their salary when making the switch. In fact, there was a 7% decline versus last year in the number of employees boosting their salaries when moving roles.

Although increases in salary don’t seem to correlate with greater happiness, paying a bonus does have a bearing on employees. As happiness declined from 2018 – 2019, the number of legal professionals receiving a bonus also dropped from 33% to 31%. The act of the bonus payment isn’t simply about its monetary value, it’s a signal to the employee that their work is recognised and appreciated, which drives satisfaction.   

Other key satisfaction factors include enhanced employer pension contributions and private medical and dental cover. These can strengthen employee loyalty to a firm. However, similar to the bonus payment, although these benefits have a financial bearing, it’s not necessarily the finance factor which employees value. It’s the peace of mind the benefits offer them.

There’s no glossing over the importance of salary and getting remuneration right – it’s a fundamental basic of recruitment. The Salary and Benefits Benchmarker 2019 reiterates exactly this and puts into perspective that satisfied employees want much more than money. They want clear paths for progression. This will help boost staff loyalty, retention and performance.


Our 2019 Salary and Benefits Benchmarker is due to launch imminently, in anticipation click here to download 2018's results. Unsatisfied in your role? Contact the team to find a job that's perfect for you or start the search here.

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