Employees show little appetite for wage demands

An international survey of employees in 10 countries indicates that companies continue to face only limited pressure to concede pay rises.

Recruitment consultancy Robert Half commissioned a survey of 7,500 employees in UK, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Brazil, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the US, which was conducted by an independent market research firm.

Responses indicate that 65% of employees surveyed have more confidence in their job prospects compared to a year ago, but only 59% plan to ask for a pay rise this year. Brazilian workers were most bullish despite the country’s economic downturn, with 81% of workers planning to request a raise, compared with 78% of workers in Germany, 77% in France and only 54% in the UK.

British workers “may be more likely to be ‘suffering in silence’ as a quarter (23%) would rather look for another job than ask their boss for a raise,” comments Robert Half.

The survey indicates widespread reluctance to put in a request for more money. Hong Kong employees are the most likely to prefer to look for a new job than ask for a pay rise (44%), followed by Singapore (34%) and those in the UK (23%). Surprisingly high proportions of French, German and US employees (46%, 46% and 32% respectively) would rather clean the house, while 7% of US employees stated they would rather have dental root canal work than ask for more money. Three per cent of respondents even considered running a marathon as a less onerous task than pursuing a pay claim.

“It’s amazing that people would rather clean the house or run a marathon than ask for a pay rise,” says Phil Sheridan, managing director, Robert Half UK. “Self-confidence is the foundation of a successful career and the ability to negotiate and articulate well are some of the key soft skills for success.

“Your professional growth and earning potential depend not just on the demand for your technical skill set, but also on your willingness and ability to negotiate with current and prospective employers.”

For those less daunted by the task, Robert Half suggests that employees follow four basic steps when asking for a raise:

1. Do your research: Before approaching your boss for additional pay, put in some homework. Know how much someone with your level of skill and experience is worth on the open market, by checking comparable roles on online job boards and benchmarking pay.
2. Track your successes: When entering pay negotiations, arm yourself with information about your achievements and contributions to your team, department and organisation. Being able to provide qualitative and quantitative evidence of the value you offer will strengthen your case.
3. Be flexible: You should know exactly what you want from negotiations, in terms of pay, and set a realistic target for your new salary. But you also need to be flexible, in the event your employer turns round and says ‘no’. It might be that there simply is no room to manoeuvre in the budget, and your request for more money cannot be accepted. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t secure additional benefits – for instance, an additional week of annual leave or flexible hours. If all else fails, ask your employer to commit to a pay review six months along the line, when your organisation may be in better financial shape.
4. Get your timing right: Timing is everything in salary negotiations. You’ve got to choose an appropriate time to request improved pay, based on external factors such as the performance of your company, its current staffing needs and wider industry trends. If your organisation has slashed its budget and recently made redundancies, the chances are you aren’t going to be successful. In fact, your employer may be happy to see you leave due to wage bill pressures.


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