After the pandemic, employees have high expectations of pay 

Inflation: workers' expectations for wage increases are high as the cost of living crisis begins to affect them.

Wages are a real issue for employees with high expectations for a pay rise. To get what they want, they are willing to push their employers, reveals the study ‘People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View’ from the ADP Research Institute.

Indeed, the social context is having an impact, as the findings come at a time of rapidly rising living costs in the UK, with the highest inflation for 30 years and the energy cap crisis after two years of pandemic-related employment disruption.

Sirsha Halder, ADP’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, comments, “After working hard to overcome the strains of the pandemic, and with spiralling inflation creating a widespread cost of living crisis, many workers feel they need and are entitled to a raise.”

High expectations

This year, half of UK workers expect a pay rise and 55% are likely to ask for one if they feel they deserve it, according to the same survey of nearly 33,000 workers in 17 countries, including the UK.

A lot of expectations, but only a third (32%) expect to be given more responsibility, over a quarter (27%) wish to be promoted, and only one in five (19%) think there will be a formal review.

What does this mean? One reason workers may feel they deserve a pay rise is the amount of unpaid overtime many of them put in, for example, by starting early, staying late or working through breaks. 

On average, workers work 8.5 hours of unpaid overtime per week. This is less than in 2021, when the global average was 9.2 hours. But more than before the pandemic in 2020, when workers averaged 7.3 hours of unpaid overtime per week.

Increasing their income

However, at the same time, 57% of workers say they would like to work more hours to be better paid. Halder says: “Given that so many workers are keen to work more hours to increase their income, one wonders how long they will continue to give up a day’s work for free to their employers, without question or compensation”. 

He adds: “In the current climate, where workers are under great pressure – financial and otherwise – it is surely unsustainable that so many people work for free well beyond their contracted hours.”

There is also a difference in approach by gender and sector. Unsurprisingly, women are less likely to ask for a pay rise than men, at 47% and 64%. 

Those who classify themselves as essential workers are more likely to do so than those who describe themselves as non-essential workers (58% versus 50%). Interestingly, those who work from home (61%) are more likely to ask for a pay rise than those who work on-site or in the office (39%).

Pay is a priority for all 

Overall, workers say that pay is the most important factor for them in a job, with more than half (56%) saying it is a priority, followed by job security (45%), flexible working hours (39%) and enjoyment of the work (34%). The report explores employees’ attitudes to the world of work today and what they expect and hope for in the workplace of tomorrow. 

For Halder, compensation is an even more pressing issue than usual, likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, with a clear knock-on effect on recruitment and retention. “Employers will have to balance this drive for higher wages with their business imperatives, and with meeting the demands of workers on other fronts, including giving them the flexibility they so desire.”

He also spoke about the impact of these expectations, particularly during this time of the Great Resignation. “Businesses need to bear this in mind in today’s tight labour market, where maintaining a secure and stable skilled workforce is paramount, and more difficult than ever.”

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