Nearly Half Of UK Workers Think They’re Not Being Paid Enough

Employers could see some rumbles within their workforce as new data suggests that workers are unhappy with their pay.

In a poll conducted by HR software provider, CIPHR, 1,005 British adults were asked about how perceived their pay. 44% of the respondents said they think they’re being paid less than they should be given their job title and experience. Another 44% think they’re being paid less than they should be and one in six (15%) can’t decide one way or the other.

The data also showed that there was a correlation between when an adult received a pay rise and their thoughts about their current pay. Those who have waited over a year for a salary increase, are more likely (67%) to be dissatisfied with their earnings. While the majority (60%) of those who received a pay rise within the last six months think the opposite.

Senior Management Happier With What They’re Paid

The research shows that different factors can shape an employee’s perception of their wage. This includes job title, organisational role and experience. Around £45,000 seems to be the sweet spot for most respondents, which is significantly higher than the national average (according to the Office for National Statistics, the median annual pay for full-time employees in the UK is £31,461).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people occupying senior management positions such as owners, CEOs, CFOs and C-level executives, are more likely to feel adequately rewarded for their efforts. The majority (64%) agree that they are paid “what they are worth” and two-fifths (40%) report getting a pay rise in the last six months.

However, non-management staff—who make up 64% of survey respondents—are the most likely to think they’re underpaid (48%). They are also the least likely to have had a pay rise within the last six months (33%).

The data also shows that nearly half (48%) of people earning an income of over £45,000 think they are being paid “what they are worth.” On the flip side, 46% of those earning less than £45,000 don’t think they are being paid their worth.

“There’s no denying that people’s perception of their own value in the workplace is closely linked to the financial package they receive,” says Claire Williams, director of people and services at CIPHR. “This has obvious implications for employers. Workers that feel undervalued or underpaid can have a negative impact on productivity, employee engagement, job satisfaction, morale and so much more.

“However, while salary is a key driver for many employees, there is a huge amount of research that suggests salary isn’t one of the top motivators to leave an organisation,” she continues. “Most people leave due to career and development opportunities, management behaviour, and work-life balance. Employers need to ensure that they take a holistic approach when considering how best to retain and reward their top talent. Pay rises and market-value salary are important but they are only part of a wider set of retention methods to ensure employees feel valued and happy.”

Which Industry Employees Are Financially Happy?

Across the board, the research says that the average annual pay rise was 8.8%.

Amongst all respondents who report receiving a pay rise in the past year, the average increase was 8.8% (the median pay rise was 3%). The average pay rise for those that were awarded one over a year ago was at 6.2%—the median pay rise was 2%.

People working in the arts, entertainment, or recreation (77%), manufacturing (71%), HR (70%), finance and insurance (69%), legal services (67%), and retail (67%), were among the most likely to report getting a pay rise in the past year.

When it comes to company size, workers at smaller companies—26 to 50 employees—were the least likely to request a pay rise, with only 50% having done so within the past year. This is compared to 55% at larger organisations—over 251 staff.

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Women also seem less likely than men to request a pay rise. Only 54% of women compared to 60% of men had asked their employers for a raise within the past year. On the other hand, when it comes to getting one slightly more women (63%) than men (60%) actually got a pay rise.



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