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Survey Design Staff

DBA releases results of design industry survey

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By The Drum Team, Editorial

October 6, 2009 | 3 min read

The Design Business Association has released the results of its membership survey on chargeout rates and salary levels within the design industry.

This year the survey shows that members have been affected by the economic climate and have decreased charge out rates for senior staff at the same time as cutting staff benefits and limiting any pay increases.

Overall, staff salaries have not changed greatly over the last year, however the gap between salaries in London-based consultancies and those in the rest of the country has narrowed. The average premium paid in the capital is only 19% this year compared to approximately 30% over the last few years.

Charge out rates for positions at companies outside London are all lower than their counterparts in London – on average 33% lower, which is similar to last year. The average charge out rate across all positions at DBA member companies based outside London is now £89 per hour – which is a 6% increase on last year. Rates for London agencies have increased by 4%.

The average utilisation rate, measuring the percentage of staff time billed on to clients, has increased by 8% this year to 71%. This is a good performance given the current economic climate and possibly reflects reduced staff numbers as well as increased pressure from clients for consultancies to deliver more value for money.

Deborah Dawton of the DBA said: “It is encouraging that our members are paying attention to their utilization rates during such challenging times. Design businesses always have to keep an eye on how much time is spent on a job to ensure that it is profitable."

Dawton continued, “Design businesses have to careful about reducing their rates for senior staff too much. It can be a useful strategy for getting work in, but you run the risk of annoying clients if you then try to recover revenue through extra times spent by your junior team. And of course you have to look at ways to increase them again once the situation starts to improve.”

Key findings

• The average utilisation rate, measuring the percentage of staff time billed on to clients, has increased by 8% this year to 71%.

• The average rate at which direct staff at consultancies outside London are charged to clients has increased this year by 6% to £89 per hour. The rate for London agencies has increased by 4%.

• The packaging sector leads the way with the highest overall rates and salaries

• The DBA has noted a steep decline in the range of benefits on offer to staff. The average cost of benefits on offer has decreased significantly to £625 from £928.

Survey Design Staff

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