Market Insights from Bain and Gray’s annual salary survey by Executive Director, Tray Durrant

2020 was a year like no other in so many ways and recruiting in the London support market was no different. A year where hiring practices adapted and changed to the reflect the working landscape and quick decisions made and then changed throughout almost every role recruited for throughout. Recruiters had to be more agile and adept at their roles than ever before. 


Consequently, the annual Bain and Gray survey of market and salary trends – conducted with over 1,000 clients – needed to be far more depth than in previous years, to thoroughly discover what clients were doing to adapt to market conditions.  It needed to determine what changes might remain in the long term to both hiring protocols and the roles of support staff.  


The results gave the clearest indication yet that salaries remained constant across all levels. It was reassuring to see that companies’ reactions to the pandemic was not to slash salaries, but to be more considered in their approach to hiring. This often meant more sign offs than usual, and internal teams would have to present a strong business case for why the hire was critical to the business overall. 


Throughout the year, the more senior end of the market fared the best and there has been a steady flow of new roles for EAs and PAs. The value of these positions to businesses remains clear; strong organisational and project management skills are crucial to the execution of company-wide tasks which ensured roles at the more experienced end of the market remained in demand throughout 2020. 


The junior end of the executive support market experienced a bumpy ride, especially during each of the lockdown periods. The difficulties of onboarding remotely and working out induction programmes while home working meant that many companies put this level of recruitment on hold.  That said, it is has bounced back and demand for junior roles is high as more companies return to the office in greater numbers.


In March 2020, the requirement for temporary staff virtually halved overnight as businesses sought a quick way to reduce costs. After the initial shock, as the pattern of home working became established, there was a steady increase in temp hires in a variety of sectors, to tide over from periods of heavy workloads. Today, the business demand for front of house and project roles is higher than ever.


It is predicted that companies will begin to return to their business strategy for the second half of 2021.  As a result, hiring is forecast to increase at all levels as industry leaders are keen to increase productivity and get back on track with growth plans. 



Bain and Gray are thought leaders in Executive Support recruitment sourcing the very best candidates in support roles ranging from Receptionists, Team Assistants, Office Managers, PAs, Executive Assistants and Chiefs of Staff roles. 


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