Agenda Consulting on Third Sector Cost of Living Awards

Agenda Consulting, a people management research consultancy specialising in the not-for-profit sector, has published its Annual Cost of Living Survey in February.

130 third sector organisations took part in this year’s survey which explores how charities make decisions about their annual cost of living awards, the awards paid in 2014, as well as their expectations for 2015. 

The findings have been published in a report, which is available from Agenda Consulting, and which offers boards of trustees and senior managers concise, accurate and up to date data they can reference when making pay-related decisions.

The survey found that 87% of organisations questioned include an annual cost of living award as part of their salary structure, whilst just 13% don’t.

The top factors determining the value of the award are affordability (87%), the average cost of living awards across the sector (55%) and the Retail Price Index used by 46% of organisations and the Consumer Price Index CPI (Consumer Price Index) which is used by 45%. Other factors include appraisal ratings, comparisons with salaries in the public and private sector, as well as organisational performance and the economic climate.

In a quarter (24%) of respondent organisations, employees with an appraisal score of ‘development required’ or ‘unsatisfactory’ do not receive a cost of living award.

Roger Parry, Director, at Agenda Consulting said: “Many boards will be making their decisions about pay at the end of March and April. Our survey will provide accurate and up to the minute data for them to benchmark their cost of living awards against similar organisations and the sector as a whole. The survey revealed that the annual cost of living award planned for 2015 is just slightly lower than 2014. However, with the Consumer Price Index down from 0.5% to 0.3% this year and with lower food, oil and transport costs, we hope that many people can expect to experience real wage growth this year. 

“Interestingly, organisations are increasingly linking their annual cost of living awards to employee performance. The fact that a quarter of charities are not making awards to employees who fail to meet performance requirements sends a message that poor performance has consequences.  We expect this approach to be used increasingly in the future.”

For more information and to purchase the Annual Cost of Living Survey go to:

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For more information contact:

Kathryn Hughes, Kayak PR on: 0208 549 3879/07801 823 839

About Agenda Consulting

Agenda Consulting is an Oxford based people management research consultancy specialising in the not-for-profit sector with clients including international NGOs, hospices, social care organisations and charities.

In the last 10 years, Agenda has run more than 150 employee and volunteer surveys with over 100 organisations. Working with partners, it also conducts regular HR, workforce and volunteer management benchmarking studies which allow organisations to compare themselves on key metrics with similar organisations.

Agenda Consulting runs a number of annual events for the sector, including conferences, webinars, and product training which demonstrate best practices and discuss key issues around employee engagement. The events provide a forum for like-minded organisations to share ideas and network.

The company also provides consultancy on a variety of HR issues and helps its Third Sector clients develop their people management strategies and processes.