18 September 2019

Faststream Recruitment conducted a global salary survey and employment review of over 5,000 Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. In this review key themes are reported around employee retention, pay and bonus, unpaid overtime, benefits, and what matters most to employees at work.

This report covers the following information:

Pay Rises

We all seek a pay rise at whatever stage we are at in our careers, but in this market who was actually rewarded with a pay rise?

Only 56% of employees reported they received a pay rise in the last 12 months. It was those with the lowest level of experience that received the smallest proportion of pay rises, with only 46% of employees with 0 – 2 years’ experience receiving one. However, the most experienced employees also suffered from lower pay rises as only 52% of employees with 16+ years’ experience achieved one. The sectors with the lowest rates of pay rises were Research (33%), Oil & Gas (45%) and Vessel Management (49%).

"Employees with 3-5 years of experience are most likely to receive a pay rise and stay in their current role."

So who did get a pay rise?

Females were the winner in the gender war on pay rises, with 65% seeing a salary increase. However, over 25% of females cited they only received this by making a job move.

Those working in Defence (81%), Flag Registries (75%) and Classification (73%), were the winning sectors to achieve a pay rise.  Within Defence, many employees received a pay rise of 10% or more.

Those who had 3 – 5 years’ experience were the most likely to receive a pay rise, with 70% of these employees achieving one in the last 12 months.


When we analysed the data on benefits being offered we had some interesting findings. We quickly realised that the UK seemed to be doing better in many areas than the global averages. In particular, “soft benefits” encouraging employees to master the often challenging work-life balancing act. 40% of UK employees are being granted flexi-time compared with 32% (global average) and more than 44% are benefiting from home working compared to a mere 30% (global average). These “soft benefits” are becoming commonplace in the UK and they seem to be having a positive impact on employee wellbeing. Our consultants are often asked about these during the application and interview process.

The UK is also leading the way with enhanced pension benefits, however, only 24% of UK employees reported receiving private medical insurance for their families. Globally only 28% of our survey were benefiting from family orientated medical insurance, which candidates are feeling more and more strongly about when they are reviewing a job offer.

It wouldn’t be right to not make a note on Brexit and we were interested to discover the lack of relocation support being offered by UK companies (11.4%). We’ve seen a big shift in non-UK candidates steering away from opportunities in the UK over the past 12 months. There is a massive skill pool across the European community within Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and we felt employers could be offering more support to attract top talent into the country. Especially where the global average was almost double (22.6%).

In a sector fighting to retain the top talent, it was unsurprising to find a healthy 46% of employees receiving some form of monetary bonus.  The UK statistic again came out on top with almost 50% aiming for a bonus.  When we looked at the data we saw a big bonus weighting towards personal performance (accounting for almost half of the bonuses on offer in the UK), the remaining bonuses largely based on company (rather than a team) performance.

Despite all of what we see on social media, we were somewhat taken aback by the low number of staff events being held.  A mere 20% of employees were attending these types of social events and/or team-building opportunities. We would advise employers to think about the benefit of bringing your team together away from the coalface to encourage stronger relationships and an overall more positive and collaborative company culture. 

Unpaid Overtime

We have already mentioned that the UK is doing more to offer flexi-time and home working, but we found that 74% of UK employees were working quite a lot of unpaid overtime. Perhaps your employees are more likely to go the extra mile when given a bit more freedom? Those working in Europe reported working marginally less unpaid overtime (70%), but more unpaid overtime was seen by those working in Asia (75%) and the US (80%).

Globally, the highest reported levels of unpaid overtime came from those with 3 – 5 years of experience (80%) and 16 plus years of experience (78%). In the Research sector levels dropped to 56% but within the Marine Equipment sector, 100% of respondents reported working lots of unpaid overtime.

These results could be put down to the passion of employees and their desire to ‘get the job done’ or it could be a culture in their business that overtime is expected. Either way, it is certain that the majority of people are working more hours than they are paid for, which our consultants often hear from candidates as a frustration factor. This could be having an effect on staff retention and should be reviewed by employers.

"Regardless of experience, the overwhelming majority of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers report working unpaid hours on a regular basis." 


Over 62% of employees said they saw themselves with their current employer this time next year. There were no significant differences between sectors, just a small increase in the likelihood of retaining staff in the sectors that were offering pay rises: Defence and Classification. This was also apparent in the section of respondents who had 3-5 years of experience. They were more likely to receive a pay rise and this equated to them being more likely to stay in their current role. A huge 79.5% with this level of post-graduate experience said they saw themselves staying with their current employer. Those who had 6-10 years’ experience were the least likely to stay with their employer next year with 46% stating they would be looking for a new role. Consistent with this, our consultants reported that the 3-5 year experienced candidate was particularly challenging to attract, yet remains in very high demand by most of our clients.

What affected those wanting to move on to another job? 50% had not received a bonus in the last 12 months, 58% had not received a pay rise and 38% of those looking to move on to a new role had received no pay rise or bonus in the past 12 months.

What matters most to employees?

In our 2018 employment survey, we asked employees what mattered most to them out of five factors. We were delighted that although our respondents were highly educated, they chose training and development as their primary desire. This was rated higher than salary, career progression, work-life balance and company culture.

In 2019, we asked the same question with a very different result.

"A pay rise can shift an employee's opinion on what matters most to them at work" 

In 2019 Salary and Bonus were rated overall as the most important factor at work, but when we analysed those who had a pay rise of 10% or more, their priorities changed and work-Life balance and company culture were rated higher.

Why have training and development become so much less important to employees in the last 12 months? Have employers changed their training programmes to facilitate more training in the areas such as software and new technology that employees were crying out for? Or has the need for a better work-life balance started to outweigh a lust for training? In 2018 it became very clear that a large number of employees were looking at changing sectors where they would be looking to be given the chance to retrain (for example from Offshore Oil & Gas to Cruise). The general market outlook, not least in Oil & Gas has certainly improved over the last 12 months and our consultants in 2019 are seeing fewer employees looking to jump ship. 

Just over 32% of employees across the world were offered flexi-time, which leaves 67% of those working in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering stuck in regimes where hours are dictated to them. We also looked at the number of employees who were doing unpaid overtime. 75% of respondents were doing unpaid overtime, of which over 40% were working 7 + hours of overtime per week. This is a huge amount of hours to be working unpaid on top of what is normally a 40 hour week. It is not surprising that employees are crying out for better work-life balance.  From an employer’s perspective, flexi-time and home working can be inexpensive benefits to provide, all they cost is trust.

Clearly, there was a slight gender imbalance between salary/bonus and work-life balance where both genders reported these as the top two factors but females opting for work-life balance as number one and males choosing salary/bonus. 

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