Whether you are a security guard, lawyer, or IT worker, wages vary hugely across the UK. But where are the towns and cities that offer the best wages?

Workers in 15 of the country’s largest towns and cities – defined here as built-up urban areas with 135,000 or more people – earn more than the average weekly wage of £539.

In contrast, workers in the 48 other towns and cities of this size earned less than the national average. (Full list at bottom of story).

The reasons reveal a great deal about the way people live and work.

The UK’s highest paid towns and cities

There are no prizes for guessing that salaries are highest in London, where the average weekly wage is £727.

Nor that the capital is followed by neighbouring towns and cities.

The next six highest earning places are all in the South East, with average wages of £600 or more in Reading, Crawley, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Slough and Oxford.

That’s largely because they are all home to significant numbers of highly skilled workers who can command good wages. It’s also due to their proximity to London, which helps these places attract high-paying companies.

But it’s not just the South East that is doing well, with wages of almost £600 per week in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Derby, thanks mainly to their successful finance, oil and manufacturing industries.

The UK’s lowest paid towns and cities

At the other end of the table, the lowest pay is, perhaps surprisingly, found in another place close to London.

At £413 per week, average pay in Southend is just over half that in the capital.

This helps explain why so many people commute from Southend into London, with one in five of its working population making the journey.

The number of people earning their money in London means that the average salary among Southend residents is £144 higher than it is for those who actually work in the town.

However, Southend is one of the few places in the South East near the bottom of the pay-scale. Worthing is the only other town from the region in the bottom 10.

More broadly, there is a definite north-south divide when it comes to wages, with most – but not all – of the lowest paid towns and cities in Yorkshire and the North West of England.

Huddersfield has the second lowest wage of any large town or city, with its workers earning £424 per week on average. It is followed by Birkenhead and Wigan, where workers are paid £428 and £436 respectively.

Belfast (£514) and Cardiff (£505) also fall under the UK average for wages, despite being the capitals of Northern Ireland and Wales respectively.

Why do wages differ between cities?

The main reason why some towns and cities offer lower average wages is simple: they are home to fewer high paying occupations.

For example, more than 12% of jobs in Reading and Milton Keynes are in high-income senior management roles, which pay an average £915 per week in the UK. Only 6% of jobs in Stoke and Hull are in this category, with just over 8% in Glasgow and Swansea.

Even within cities there can be great differences – workers in Tower Hamlets, in east London, are paid an average of £952 per week, compared with £518 for those working in Sutton, on the outskirts. Again, this reflects the number of senior managers in each area.

Skills levels are also a big issue in most places with below average wages.

For example, Wigan, Barnsley and Doncaster – all of which feature in the bottom 15 – have some of the lowest shares of residents educated to degree level.

Swansea and Belfast have some of the highest levels of residents who have no formal qualifications whatsoever.

Same job, different wage

There are also big gaps between what people get paid for doing the same kinds of jobs in different towns and cities.

Workers in jobs classed by the Office for National Statistics as “elementary occupations” – such as cleaners and security guards – are paid less in Plymouth and Warrington (£205 per week) than anywhere else in the country. In Slough, people in equivalent roles are paid about twice as much.

Those in “sales and customer service occupations”, such as sales assistants and call centre staff, are paid least in Wigan (£207 per week) and most in Crawley (£354).

The same disparities can be seen among senior managers and directors, with the lowest salaries in Southend (£615 per week) and the highest in London (£1,208 per week).

There are a number of reasons why.

To attract the workers they need, businesses have to offer higher wages, especially to people at the lower end of the salary scale – which pushes up the average wage.

A notable exception to this pattern is Derby, which despite being in the top 10 for wages (£595 a week) has relatively low house prices.

But a bigger factor is the value people working in the same jobs in different places bring to the economy.

For example, in the business services sector – which includes lawyers and architects – the average output of a worker in London, in monetary terms, is more than double that in Southend.

That’s because lawyers in London are more likely to be undertaking work for which they can charge bigger fees.

Think corporate lawyers working in London’s financial services, compared with local housing conveyancing solicitors in Southend.

Similarly, the value of the work done by someone in the information and communications sector (which includes computer programmers and telephone engineers) in Reading is twice that of someone working in the same sector in Wakefield.

This reflects the fact that Reading is home to many high skilled, complex roles in computing giants such as Microsoft and Hewlett Packard.

This is one reason why politicians and commentators have been so worried about productivity in recent years.

Only by increasing the amount the average worker produces will we be able to see sustained rises in pay.

The lack of such opportunities in struggling towns and cities has implications for how attractive they are for people to live in.

Over the past 10 years those towns and cities that have the highest paying jobs have seen the largest growth in the working age population – people aged between 16 and 64.

Places such as London, Edinburgh and Milton Keynes have been able to attract significant numbers of new residents because of the jobs and wages they offer.

But Burnley and Birkenhead have seen their working age populations fall, reflecting lower wages and the relative lack of career opportunities.

Creating more jobs in these places is only part of the answer to improving living standards.

Raising wages will be critical in turning around the fortunes of both struggling towns and cities and the people living in and around them.

Highest and lowest wages in UK’s largest towns and cities*

London: £727
Reading: £655
Crawley: £633
Milton Keynes: £619
Cambridge: £609
Slough: £606
Oxford: £600
Edinburgh: £598
Aberdeen: £597
Derby: £595
Aldershot: £588
Southampton: £579
Luton: £571
Swindon: £560
Bristol: £547
National Average: £539
Leeds: £533
Coventry: £532
Birmingham: £527
Glasgow: £526
Gloucester: £526
Portsmouth: £520
Belfast: £514
Liverpool: £512
Manchester: £512
Warrington: £510
Northampton: £508
Ipswich: £506
Cardiff: £505
Dundee: £503
Bournemouth: £503
Basildon: £501
Newcastle: £501
York: £501
Blackpool: £500
Exeter: £499
Peterborough: £497
Telford: £497
Brighton: £496
Chatham: £494
Blackburn: £488
Nottingham: £486
Sunderland: £484
Wakefield: £483
Leicester: £480
Preston: £480
Middlesbrough: £477
Sheffield: £474
Newport: £473
Mansfield: £472
Plymouth: £467
Hull: £466
Swansea: £464
Burnley: £459
Stoke: £455
Bradford: £455
Worthing: £455
Barnsley: £453
Norwich: £450
Doncaster: £447
Wigan: £436
Birkenhead: £428
Huddersfield: £424
Southend: £413

*The Centre for Cities data covers built-up urban areas with a population of 135,000 or more.

Employers are seeing more staff turning up to work while ill, according to a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

It surveyed more than 1,000 organisations this year and found that 86% had observed staff attending work while ill, or “presenteeism”.

The rise compares with a survey in 2010 when just 26% of employers observed the behaviour.

The CIPD also found high numbers of staff willing to work while on holiday.

The scale of the problem is “shocking” according to Rachel Suff, Senior Employment Relations Adviser at the CIPD who said “people feel under even more pressure to work”.

She said employers need to do more to tackle the issue.

“Too few organisations are discouraging unhealthy workplace practices and tackling stress, which is strongly linked to health conditions such as anxiety and depression,” Ms Suff said.

Last year, the TUC described UK workers as “mucus troopers” after the Office for National Statistics said that sickness absence totalled 137 million working days in 2016, the equivalent of 4.3 days per worker and the lowest on record.

When records began in 1993, the equivalent of 7.2 days were lost.

‘Grin and bear it’
Emma Lowe has ulcerative colitis and says that, in a previous jobs, it was tough to make managers aware of the issues.

“I’d been having at least one day off a month due to my UC and I was told that I should ‘grin and bear’ the pain,” she says.

“Unfortunately [my manager] didn’t understand that on those days I was off sick, I couldn’t even walk, let alone climb the stairs at work and be sat in an air-conditioned cyclone.

“My UC put me in hospital in 2010 and I was out sick for nearly two months. My manger at the time did not understand what UC was and had to Google it. Then he had to explain that I was genuinely sick to higher up.”

Official guidance, published earlier this year, suggested that employers should give staff places to rest at work to help boost productivity.

Public Health England said that downtime at work can help employees switch off and get better quality sleep at night.

Experts suggest that millions of pounds are lost owing to absenteeism, and presenteeism – when employees are at work but not operating at optimum levels.

Some firms already encourage employees to have downtime at work. London-based money transfer service firm TransferWise has a hammock and sauna on its premises, for example.

And accountancy company PwC, as part of a training programme on resilience, tries to help its staff improve the quality of their sleep.

The report by the CIPD was written in partnership with Simplyhealth.

Ladbrokes, Easyjet and Virgin Money are among the major companies to reveal gender pay gaps of more than 15% in favour of men for mean hourly pay.

Organisations with 250 or more workers must publish their figures by April and so far 527 firms have done so.

Women’s hourly pay rates are 52% lower than men’s at Easyjet. On average, women earn 15% less per hour at Ladbrokes and 33% less at Virgin Money.

All three firms say men and women are paid equally when in the same role.

At Easyjet, for example, 6% of its UK pilots are women – a role which pays £92,400 a year on average – whereas 69% of lower-paid cabin crew are women, with an average annual salary of £24,800.

The carrier said it had set a target that one in five of new entrant pilots should be female by 2020.

‘Weak representation’

The Ladbrokes Coral group put its gender pay gap largely down to “weak representation at our senior levels” and Virgin Money said it was “confident” men and women were paid equally for the same jobs.

The gender pay gap is the pay discrepancy between men and women irrespective of their job or position.

That is distinct from equal pay – when companies are required to ensure that men and women carrying out the same or similar roles are paid the same for the amount of work they do.

There were calls for more action on tackling equal pay from the Women’s Equality Party, who issued a response on Twitter:

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Carolyn Harris, a Welsh Labour MP, said in a tweet that the findings were “astonishing” and “immoral”:

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In 2016, the UK gender pay gap was 9.4% for full-time workers, or 18.1% for all staff.

Employers of about half of the UK’s workforce will be affected by the reporting rules, which reveal discrepancies in pay and bonuses, with the results published on a government database.

What we know so far

Companies have been publishing figures ad hoc ahead of the 6 April cut-off, including the BBC, which revealed women’s mean hourly rate was 10.7% lower.

The firm to publish the biggest gender pay gap so far is women’s fashion chain Phase Eight – with a 64.8% lower mean hourly rate for female staff.

Phase Eight’s chief executive Benjamin Barnett said the figure did not reflect the “true story” of the business, since most male employees worked in head office roles rather than in shops.

As of last April, 39 of Phase Eight’s 44 male employees worked in the corporate head office – where pay tends to be higher – which Mr Barnett said was likely to be the case at other women’s fashion retailers.

Women’s hourly rates

Mr Kipling bramley apple piesImage copyrightNEWSCAST
Image captionMr Kipling cakes owner Premier Foods was among those to have already reported

Government departments, retailers, banks and energy firms are among the employers to reveal pay differences in mean hourly pay:

Employers with low or no gender pay gaps include the British Museum (0%) and the armed forces (0.9%).

In the armed forces, there are far fewer women in the lower ranks than men, particularly in combat roles where women have not previously been able to apply. There are proportionally more women in officer ranks.

There was some criticism of the way the data was presented, some made the point that men are paid more than women in certain companies because they are in higher-paid positions.

Jeremy Miles AM of Welsh Labour said that lack of women in higher-paid roles is an issue in itself:

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Firms paying women significantly more include mattress retailer Sweet Dreams – which said women were paid 46.4% more – and nursery business Yellow Dot, where women’s hourly rate is 35.4% more.

Yellow Dot, which runs 12 nurseries in Hampshire, said its team was “predominantly female” with the majority of the male team employed in “the lower skill areas of childcare”.

It said 7% of apprentices last year were men, compared with zero in 2016, while 41% of roles involving helping at children’s tea time were filled by men – compared with 25% in 2016.

The firm said it was “working hard” to encourage men to join and it was “confident” it could increase the number who stay in the childcare industry.

Many financial firms feature in the list, including the Co-op Bank – where mean hourly pay is 30.3% lower for women.

Steven Pickering, the bank’s chief risk officer, said it was aiming to achieve a “material increase” in the number of women in senior roles.

Last year, a report published by the BBC found there was a 10.7% gender pay gap in favour of men when the mean average hourly pay rates were compared. Like many firms, the BBC also measured the gap on a median average basis and found a 9.3% gap in favour of male staff.

Director general Lord Hall pledged to close the gap by 2020, saying the corporation should be “an exemplar of what can be achieved when it comes to pay, fairness, gender and representation”.

The CIPD’s annual labour market predictions also point to a tightening of the labour market as well as continued poor productivity.

2018 will see pay, productivity and migration top the agenda as the UK looks ahead to its exit from the European Union according to the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. Following a year in which there has been ever-increasing pressure on the cost of living, the CIPD predicts:

  • Pockets will continue to be squeezed: there is little evidence that the pay squeeze will end soon, with only falling inflation likely to lead to meaningful wage increases in 2018
  • The UK workforce could tighten: with increased constraints on labour supply, 2018 could be the year that the UK finally runs out of people to fill jobs, although unemployment levels are unlikely to see much change
  • There will be no improvement in productivity: there will be continued stagnation in UK productivity, which will remain well below pre-crash levels.

In the CIPD’s annual labour market predictions, Ian Brinkley, Acting Chief Economist, anticipates a flattening of employment growth and weak pay growth as the UK continues to struggle with its productivity problem.

Ian Brinkley, Acting Chief Economist at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development said:

“In 2017 we saw record-high employment but a big squeeze on household budgets; the next 12 months looks to be a case of more of the same. With Brexit negotiations entering their next crucial phase, all eyes will be on the ability of the Government to ensure employers can access the skills and workers the economy needs. Workers will also be hoping that pay rises faster than inflation, but that may not happen until much later in the year.”

On the UK labour market:

“The year will end with more people in work than ever before but there are signs that we may have hit peak employment. The latest ONS figures point towards constraints in the overall supply of labour so 2018 could be the year when the UK finally runs out of people to fill the jobs in the economy. However, there is little sign of excess demand for jobs, so it is possible that unemployment levels will remain broadly the same over the next 12 months.”

On pay:

“There is little evidence the squeeze on wages will end anytime soon, though the national minimum wage will see some workers get an uplift. Most employers can’t afford to or don’t feel the need to make an above-inflation pay rise. People hoping to see more money in their pocket in 2018 should hope inflation returns to nearer its 2% target, a level it is predicted to be approaching at the end of 2018. Even if we do see any growth in real earnings, this will be nowhere near enough to make up for the consistent falls in real earnings we have seen for most of the last decade.”

On migration:

“Until now, we have been able to supplement labour supply through net migration, which is why the UK workforce has kept growing. However, recent falls in net migration post-referendum suggest that this may not be a long-term solution. Any adjustment is likely to be slow and steady rather than a cliff-edge scenario where supply disappears overnight. It is worth noting that the number of EU-migrants coming to the UK for work purposes has remained broadly consistent with the pre-Brexit average, so there is evidence that the effect of Brexit on migration may not be as significant as predicted. Sectors that are highly reliant on migrant labour, such as hospitality and agriculture, will be nervously watching the Brexit negotiations to see whether they are likely to get the favourable migration deals they want in order to meet their labour supply.”

On productivity:

“There is nothing to suggest that there is a long-term productivity recovery underway, despite the figures in the last quarter being better than expected. While productivity may pick up a little over the next 12 months, we will still face productivity outcomes well below pre-crash levels this time next year. To avoid low productivity becoming an entrenched, long-term problem, the government needs to look at its underlying causes. This includes what is preventing many UK organisations from investing as much as their international counterparts on training and ways to improve people management, especially in SMEs.”

Speak to 500 HR managers about discrimination in the recruitment process and what do you get? Almost half of recruiters who admit their own hiring process may be prejudiced, three quarters who have witnessed bias or discrimination amongst others first-hand, and 25% who say it’s a regular thing.

We all make judgments. We all have filters that influence our decisions and we are all conditioned by our environment. But our research shows that an alarming number of HR managers are actively ruling out candidates based on factors that are discriminatory – education, accent or gender – which is clearly unacceptable.

Discriminatory recruitment isn’t just unethical – it also makes terrible business sense.

Every member of your team represents a different set of preferences and backgrounds, likes and dislikes, that enrich an organisation and create opportunities. Tapping into a diverse workforce can improve everything from employee productivity, to greater customer understanding and satisfaction.

Here are five methods every HR manager needs to consider in order to transform their recruitment process – and to find the right person for the job, based on professionalism rather than preferences.

1 – Dare to be aware

Taking the time to understand how, why and who we discriminate against – even on an unconscious level – is fundamental to being able to correct it.

Organisations need to take the time to have a conversation about conscious and unconscious biases that might be affecting their hiring process. Everyone makes judgments, so create a safe space for behaviour to be questioned and corrected. Be clear about where you stand on gender, race, age, class and the values of the business as a whole.

2 – Call it out

Once you’ve defined and vocalised your values, you can measure people’s actions against them. Whether it’s during the recruitment process or at a board meeting, there should be an awareness of what is acceptable, what drives decisions and what culture the company is striving for. When you’re clear about what discrimination means, it’s easier to spot and take action.

3 – Choose your language

Coded prejudice starts before the application process even begins. Where masculine words dominate job descriptions, women won’t apply. When exclusive language speaks to private school leavers, talent outside of this set will switch off. They might be the best candidates out there, but if your language doesn’t speak to them, they won’t apply.

Job descriptions need to clearly outline the key skills and experience you are looking for. Personnel specifications should only describe the relevant and justifiable job requirements – the specification should not have any requirements that are not directly related to the job.

4 – Go blind

HR managers have many tough decisions to make when deciding between candidates, and prejudice can become part of the process too easily.

Embedding a culture of diversity at the heart of your business comes from implementing good education, training and behaviours. Hirers should be trained to discount factors such as name, age and gender, and to instead base their choices on ability, relevance and potential.

Teams that are responsible for hiring must be equipped with the ability to remain impartial when making recruitment decisions, and recognise the impact their recruitment habits have on the wider business.

In addition to proper training, embracing technology is another way to reduce the impact of unconscious bias. Software and algorithms that match applicants to roles based on merit helps to remove some of the barriers to diversity.

5 – Simplify and standardise

To give every employee the same chance to impress, standardised questions are essential. Interview questions should be competency based and relate to the requirements of the job. Look for insight into the candidate’s ability and suitability to minimise bias.

During the interview process, take notes and conduct interviews with a colleague to pool opinions.

Start today

Recruitment is about bringing people together and making the right connections. Supporting an unbiased hiring process is an important cornerstone of this.

We all need to be vigilant and question the motivations behind our actions with honesty and self-awareness, and the methods outlined above can make a real difference to attitudes that may have previously been taken for granted.

Discrimination is illegal, unprofessional and creates the worst kind of working environment. Remember that changing a culture takes time and it can be a long process, but it can start today.

Building an inclusive workplace has benefits for everyone. Promote a happier, fairer culture by ensuring you’re doing everything you can to find the best person for the job. Ideological and legal reasoning aside, removal of discrimination simply makes good business sense. An unprejudiced workplace allows people to be themselves, and empowers them to succeed.

Premiership Rugby and England Rugby today announced a commitment to work with Stonewall, which will see the three organisations support and promote LGBT inclusion in rugby.

The game-wide initiative will see Premiership Rugby and England Rugby work with Stonewall to assess current inclusion programmes and practises and to work on integrating best practise into rugby at all levels.

As part of their commitment, Premiership Rugby, the RFU and the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) will once again support the Rainbow Laces campaign, scheduled for November 2017.

Stonewall will become Premiership Rugby’s latest inclusion partner, following the league’s work with the following organisations: Equality and Human Rights Commission, Level Playing Field and Sporting Equals.

Wayne Morris, Community and CSR Director at Premiership Rugby, said: “Inclusion is one of five core values at Premiership Rugby and, as a values-driven sport, we take our commitment to it seriously. We want our fans and our supporters to feel welcome at our matches and to feel that rugby is a sport that they can get involved with at any level.

“Many of our existing community programmes are about encouraging people to consider rugby as a sport that is available to them, but inclusion goes beyond what happens on the pitch or through our programmes. We want Premiership Rugby to be welcoming to all people, be it as a participant, fan, employee, coach or volunteer, and we want to ensure we are doing as much as we can to achieve this. As a result we are delighted to be working with Stonewall in this area and to work with them on promoting LGBT inclusion.”

As part of England Rugby’s four year strategic plan, which was announced last week, the governing body re-stated its ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion at all levels of the game.

England Rugby will be promoting Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign in Twickenham Stadium during England’s match against Samoa on Saturday 25th November, with rainbow LEDs and big screen VTs promoting their support. Clubs and players across the community will also be informed of ways to promote inclusion and how to get behind the Rainbow Laces campaign.

Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director at the RFU said:

“Rugby is a game for all and at the core of our strategic plan is our commitment to ensuring that rugby provides an inclusive and welcoming environment for all across every level of the game.

“We are delighted to join forces with Stonewall, Premiership Rugby and the RPA on Rainbow Laces and to raise awareness for the inclusive nature of the sport and ensure the LGBT community feel supported whether they are players, coaches, referees, volunteers or spectators.”

The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) has provided their backing to the new commitment and will be encouraging its 700 members to show their support for Rainbow Laces.

Damian Hopley, Group CEO of the RPA, said:

“We’re immensely proud to be supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign, and working in collaboration with Premiership Rugby, the RFU and Stonewall to encourage players, clubs and fans alike to make our game an open and welcoming environment for all.

“Our members recognise the positive influence rugby has had on their lives, and through this important campaign they have an opportunity to give back to the game, and stand together to promote LGBT inclusion within our sport. We look forward to seeing RPA members showing their support for this fantastic initiative.”

Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall, said:

“It’s crucial for organisations like Premiership Rugby and England Rugby to show leadership and become active members of the Rainbow Laces movement. Many LGBT people want to take part in sport, as either players or fans, and to do this, they need really clear signals that they are welcome.

“Our campaign is about encouraging people, and organisations like Premiership Rugby and England Rugby, to come out for LGBT people and show their support. Together we can help create sports fields where all fans, players, coaches, officials and volunteers feel able to be themselves and where sport truly is everyone’s game.”

More information on both Premiership Rugby and England Rugby’s work in this area including Rainbow Laces will be announced in due course.

To all the HR practitioners out there: You have the potential to be one of the most important and valued employees at your company, but you need to be smart about it and you need to be unafraid of crunching numbers. Luckily you could have all the data you need at your fingertips.

“We used to be like shepherds, just counting people,” says Melanie Hache-Barrois, human capital management strategy director at Oracle. “But now we have more power as strategic decision makers.”

The key in managing this progression from pen pusher to priceless planner lies in collecting statistics and information from the workforce and analysing it en masse.

With the right technology, this can empower HR professionals to make predictions about their company’s future and have the data to back them up. That gives clout to any recommendations they make about how to best weather the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities heading their company’s way.

“This really is a new mindset,”says Hache-Barrois. “HR needs to have data to give power to their ideas. Big data and analytics are buzzwords, but we need to be more precise than just using jargon because there’s something really significant going on here. There is a real acceleration in the means that HR has at its disposal and data-backed analysis is one of them.”

When it comes down to exactly what kind of data to search for and file away, Hache-Barrois says it’s important to remember why you’re collecting it in the first place—to make predictions and strategic decisions. Don’t let your methods limit what kind of decisions you can make. “We’re beyond counting people in spreadsheets to form ideas,” she says. “It’s the other way around; we have an idea then use analytics to help us find the data make a decision based in fact.”

How data makes a difference

There are two ways of getting data from your workforce: the classical survey option, which Hache-Barrois calls “old fashioned” and a more systematic approach, which connects employee computers to HR systems via the cloud to gather information while they’re working.

“You can collect almost any kind of data from how your employees are working like this,” she says. “You know when they’re logging on to learning and training systems, you can analyse the sort of content they’re sharing and how they’re engaging with each other. Of course such actions need to be in line with relevant privacy regulations.”

This kind of data, when collected from all employees, paints a picture of the entire workforce. You can predict their reaction to new company policies or changes to existing ones, gauge how they perceive the company’s reputation, and decipher whether they are content at work or itching to leave the business.

Oracle Simply Talent Study found the majority of respondents (56%) cited enhanced productivity as a direct result of feeling more engaged at work. Crucially, 37% of employees said feeling more engaged makes them less likely to look for work elsewhere, vital for HR at a time when relevant skills are in such high demand.

“The more you have this kind of data, the more you can make employees happier, safer and more productive,” says Hache-Barrois—and characteristically, she has the data to back that up. Oracle has conducted studies across Europe where they asked 1,500 people in seven countries what makes them engaged in a company. The answer? People feel more engaged when they understand the company, their role within it, and when their manager is taking care of them.

The study found that for the majority of respondents (53%), being recognised for their achievements is their biggest priority, followed by helping them understand their contribution to the company (35%) and getting the opportunity to work on exciting projects (34%).

“When you’re loyal it’s because you feel valued and taken care of. Collecting and analysing this kind of data empowers HR to make decisions and implement policies to make this possible. That makes them important,” she adds.

So you’ve prepared for the phone interview, a video chat, the one-on-one interview, and the salary conversation with HR. But, if you’ve forgotten to plan for a possible panel interview, you’ve missed a step.

Panel interviews, for those who haven’t encountered them before, involve a candidate sitting across from three or more hiring managers and meeting with them all at once in a 45- to 60-minute interview–cue the panic sweats and visions of a firing squad.

Anxiety is normal, but the job interview jitters can be mitigated by anticipating and preparing for these panel interviews. After all, many companies are including these types of meetings in their hiring processes due to time constraints and multiple stakeholders.

As you account for this new step in your job search, there is plenty that you’ll need to do to bring your A game. However, there are also nine things you should never do in a panel interview–here we break them down.

Do not . . .

Everyone in a panel interview may have a vote on whether you join the team, so do not make the mistake of responding only to the senior-level team members. Give everyone your attention, look each person in the eye when responding, and give their feedback equal weight.

Related: How You Should Answer The 10 Most Common Interview Questions

Before any interview, learn the names and responsibilities of every person who will be in the room. Part of your interview prep process is to research each person and get familiar with their names, titles, and roles. And in the event that another interviewer is sprung on you last minute, try your hardest to remember their name and address them directly.

Interview questions can be hard, especially the oddball ones. However, that’s no excuse to lose your cool–deep breaths and thoughtful responses are always best. And if you don’t know an answer, a great reply is, “I’m not confident in my answer to that one, but I can follow up with you after this interview.”

It’s easy to get defensive when interviewers ask about a gap in your resume, recent unemployment, or a touchy termination. However, in situations like these, it’s best to bite your tongue. You’ve prepared for these questions, remember? Simply deliver your anecdotal response confidently and whatever you do, don’t get defensive. No one wants to hire a hothead.

“You have to stand up straight. You have to smile, look at the person’s face,” says body language expert Dr. Lillian Glass. But more importantly, she says, “You have to be interested, not [just] interesting. Be concerned about what you’re doing and about what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. That’s where people really get in trouble, especially millennials. Being too self-absorbed in the workplace can harm your chances for success. You have to talk about what you provide and contribute to the company, and your body language [should reinforce] that.”

Nervousness can make you whiz through answers and seem harried. Simply put: Slow. It. Down.

Don’t be so worried about the next question that you forget to listen to your interviewers. Be sure you are taking in as much information as you are sharing. After all, the interview process is like dating–each side wants to discover whether the other is the right fit.

From learning labs to formal mentorship programs, get a sense of what the company offers in the way of professional growth and development opportunities. After all, if you proceed with this company, you want to know that you have a future there and opportunities to be challenged.

You want to acknowledge each person who interviewed you, so make sure to get business cards as you go in order to send thoughtful thank-you notes. Also, try to jot down a note or two as you speak with various team members so that you can include a specific detail in each of your correspondences.

Pay awards remain stubbornly below rates of inflation, according to the latest analysis from XpertHR.

For the three months to the end of August 2017, the median basic pay award remained at 2%.

Retail prices index (RPI) inflation hit a high of 3.9% in August 2017, its highest level since January 2012, meaning prices are now rising nearly twice as fast as pay.

According to XpertHR, RPI inflation has outstripped pay awards in 84 months over the past 10 years, and pay awards have now remained below inflation since September 2016.

Based on consumer prices index (CPI) inflation, which tends to be lower than RPI, pay rises have been worth less than inflation for 73 months over the past decade.

In its analysis of the three months to August, XpertHR found that:

In the public sector, median pay awards have remained at 1% thanks to the cap in pay rises that has been in place since 2010. This should slowly move after the Government recently announced that police and prison officers will no longer be subject to this pay cap.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has also pledged to lift the 1% pay cap on public sector workers in Scotland next year, while 14 health unions recently wrote to the Government calling for a 3.9% pay rise plus a further £800 “to restore some of the pay lost over the past seven years”.

“Public sector workers may well be in line for pay awards in excess of 1% over the coming year, but overall restraint remains across the economy and workers face a continued period of below-inflation pay increases,” said XpertHR pay and benefits editor Sheila Attwood.