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Staff dissatisfaction with pay, promotion and prospects mounts, poll of 400,000 reveals

HR Editorial , 02 Feb 2012

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Employee dissatisfaction with pay, promotion and prospects, is growing according to a survey of 400,000 private sector employees.

Just under half (49%) of those polled by HR consultancy ETS felt their level of basic pay was not fair, representing a two per cent increase from last year.

In addition to frustration over pay 55% said the bonus scheme in their company is unfair (up from 49% in 2011), 40% felt the promotion system is unfair and 46% admitted to being unhappy with their prospects for career progression / promotion

Hannah Stratford, head of business psychology at ETS, said: "Widespread dissatisfaction with basic pay isn't a huge surprise. Many companies are being cautious with budgets due to continuing economic uncertainty, which has meant pay typically not keeping up with the rate of inflation. Clearly dissatisfaction over pay isn't simply an HR issue, however concerns around lack of prospects and career progression should prompt HR intervention.

"Every employee - particularly high-potentials - should have a career and targeted development plan. Whilst there may not be budget for additional training, managers should commit to acting as coaches, supporting employees with their professional development. Such an approach will require minimal investment and will provide a timely boost for employees, giving them greater clarity around how they can develop and grow as professionals. This can often work well as a mechanism for retaining top talent in the face of lack of budgets for increased salaries."

But 91% of employees said they were willing to 'go the extra mile' for their company (increase of 2%) and 80% admitted they would be willing to recommend the company as a great place to work (increase of 1%).

Stratford added: "These are relatively modest increases in truth but both are key measures of engagement, which is particularly noteworthy given the level of dissatisfaction with pay and prospects. It could be the case that companies have taken action to resolve issues and create a better working environment for employees. We should also remind ourselves however, that pay has been shown not to be a significant driver of engagement."

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