The Central Bank recently forecast Ireland would return to full employment at some point over the next two years with number in work here reaching a record 2.3 million.

That tightening of labour supply and competition for skilled staff puts upward pressure on wages. The trend is reflected in research published by Sigmar and EY today. The 2018 Talent Leaders Survey finds employers are likely to offer two out of every three staff a salary increase this year in order to retain their best people.

Kate Stewart is Sigmar's head of HR recruitment said employees are under financial pressures themselves, and many have not seen the pay increases that they might expect from a recovered economy. She said this was in spite of the fact that they might have seen their own business perform better and their workload might have increased. 

Ms Stewart said a lot of employees who might not be looking to leave the organisation, have increasing confidence in the choices that are out there. 

"What we're seeing is one out of four that started a new job last year, hadn't applied for the role but were head hunted for the role so even those that aren't looking are being approached, or constantly being told of opportunities out there, and there is a confidence amongst employees that there are other options out there and that will push them to go to their employer and seek a pay rise," she said.

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There are other non-pay alternatives or incentives that employers are going to have to use to attract and retain staff. "Creativity is the key here," she said. "It's not all about salary increases. Employers need to break the mould, and open up to new talent pools. They need to look at more flexible working solutions.

"Those companies that enable remote working, that encouraged more part time and job-sharing options will attract people back into the workforce that they are currently not tapping into, and from a retention perspective the companies that are putting a priority on learning development and employee well-being are seeing a culture of commitment within their own organisation. Employees won't leave if they feel their employer values them."