A Question of Pay

Study Finds a Third of UK Employees Less Comfortable Asking for a Pay Rise

A study of 1,312 UK employees, undertaken by business energy retailer Love Energy Savings, has revealed a huge shift in the way UK employees feel about asking for a pay rise, from now compared to pre-pandemic with a third feeling less comfortable asking for a pay rise.

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the UK economy and on those who work to power it. It has changed the way people work and rolled the dice for many employees, who now either work for a company that has fallen on harder times or one that has felt the benefits of a nation in lockdown. Consequently, employees’ sense of financial self-worth and trust in employer’s financial health has altered, creating worrying division between both genders and age demographics.

Love Energy’s survey revealed that over half (55 per cent) of people no longer feel the same about asking for a pay rise as they did pre-pandemic with just under a third now feel less comfortable asking their employer for a pay rise, while only 24 per cent feel more comfortable. The company suggests that given how many companies have gone under this year – that they feel they are simply lucky to have a job and shouldn’t give their employers a reason to let them go.

Love Energy Savings’ research also revealed that the younger generation have emerged feeling more confident asking for a pay rise post-pandemic than the more seasoned employees. Just under a third (32 per cent) of those aged 55-64 feel less comfortable asking for a pay rise compared to before the pandemic, with only 19 per cent feeling more confident. This is in contrast to Generation Z, with 29 per cent feeling significantly more comfortable asking for a pay rise than they did pre-pandemic.

This gap in confidence also extends to gender, with the data revealing that men aged 45-54 were 55 per cent more likely to feel more comfortable asking for a pay rise post pandemic compared to women.

“There are definitely historical factors to consider here,” commented Lori Rassas, SPHR-certified Human Resources consultant and author. “While there have been some slight improvements, a lot of research has shown that women tend to be less effective negotiators than men. In some cases employers say that women earn less because they ask for less. Further research suggests that women are more likely than men to take the first offer that is made to them, while men are more likely to counter an employer’s initial offer.

“Employers are mapping out designs for their post-pandemic workforce,” adds Lori, “but those plans may change depending upon how others react to them. If an employer requires all employees to return to work on-site and this causes a mass exodus of top talent, the employer may reconsider.

“Similarly, if an employer agrees to give its employees the ability to work remotely and their clients start to complain, then that employer will likely have to make some difficult decisions.  Based on this pervasive uncertainty, it makes sense that employees are laying low and treading carefully before making any demands.”

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