Don’t expect more than 10% salary hike this year unless you are an AI expert


  • ‘Digitally skilled’ employees and those working in areas of data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, are expected to receive higher increments.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Ajay Shah, VP and head of recruitment at TeamLease Services said that the salary hikes can be around 14-18% for digital roles.
  • It is safe to say that the top skills fetching higher salary increment would be big data analytics, digital cloud computing, artificial intelligence, cyber security and machine learning.
With the appraisal season around the corner in April, employees are waiting with bated breath. However, they may not be as attractive now as before, with few sectors expected to dish out double digit increments.

Only ‘digitally skilled’ employees will not have little to worry about, especially working with data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“The median salary hike at the organisational level will fluctuate between 8% to 14% this year. However, the salary hikes across the digital areas will vary from 14% to 18%,” said

Ajay Shah, VP and head of recruitment at TeamLease Services in an interview with Business Insider.

According to Shah, salary hikes in the digital areas will outshine the average hikes across industries. Skills are the most in demand for recruiters are also popular with companies which want to retain them. And, these skills are big data analytics, digital cloud computing, artificial intelligence, cyber security and machine learning.

While the IT industry continues to grow, doling out higher pay packets and digital skills, the ecommerce and professional services sector are also expected to witness above average increments. Amongst sectors, those will offer little are those in trouble like automobile and telecom companies.

Skills versus salaries

Apart from slowdown and other financial troubles, companies might also be taking a chunk of funds intended for hikes and divert them to re-skilling. Shah believes that the enterprises in India are now striving to become ‘tech- enabled’ for better productivity. Hence, they are investing in reskilling their employees via learning and development initiatives. This might also impact the salary hikes of the digitally unskilled.

“Freshers are going ahead with average starting salaries and the mid-level employees have aspirations. But, there is a skill gap. So, organisations investing in reskilling programmes is also a kind of incentive to the employees,” Shah reiterated.

Increments to touch a decade-low

A survey by Human Resource firm Aon Hewitt pegged the average pay hike at 9.1% in 2020. That happens to be the lowest in a decade. It anticipates the increments in the ecommerce and professional services space at 10%. Last year, the average increment stood at 9.3%.


"Despite economic challenges in 2019, organizations in India are taking a positive view. Pay increases in India continue to be the highest in the region. A big reason for India's higher salary increase, as compared to other growing economies, is the high inflation rate and the war for key talent and niche skills," said Tzeitel Fernandes, Partner, Rewards Solutions at Aon.

The global salary forecast by Korn Ferry, a management consulting company also projected India’s salary growth at 9.2% — the best in Asia. That is much higher than the average salary increase in the US at 3%. However it needs to be mentioned that inflation in India and developed economies are not comparable.

“Compensation programmes need to be regularly reviewed to make sure they align with changing business and market conditions. Companies take a broader perspective by defining and agreeing upon their own measures of cost drivers, business strategy and local trading conditions,” said Benjamin Frost, who is the global general manager of Korn Ferry.

See also:
This Indian startup offers as much as 270% hike in salary for a job well done

These are the starting salaries offered to B-school students in India

India Inc to offer double-digit salary hike this year: TimesJobs survey
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