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Employees scared to ask for pay rises post-pandemic

Employees are less confident about asking for a pay rise than they were pre-pandemic as they fear their company has struggled financially over the past 18 months.

Over half (55%) of UK employees are now more reluctant to ask for a pay rise, according to new research, as the coronavirus pandemic has caused a shift in the way employees feel about demanding a higher salary

The majority of respondents said they would not ask for a salary increase because they work for a company that has fallen on harder times or one that has felt the benefits of a nation in lockdown.

Generation X women, those aged between 45 and 54, are reportedly the least confident (24%) when it comes to asking for a pay rise and employees of both sex aged between 18 and 24 feel the most comfortable asking for a pay rise (29%).

In comparison, only 19% of those aged 55 to 64 said they felt confident enough to ask their employer for a pay rise post-pandemic.

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The gap in confidence extends to gender. The research found men aged between 45 and 54 were 55% more likely to feel more comfortable asking for a pay rise post pandemic compared to women of the same age. 

Whereas just 24% of women said they feel more comfortable post-pandemic to ask for a pay rise. 

Lorri Rassas, HR consultant and author, said historical factors come into play when analysing why women are more fearful than men when asking for a pay increase.

She told HR magazine: “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.”

Rassas warned if employers don't create environments where employees feel comfortable talking about their salary needs, they risk loosing their top talent during a time of tough employment

She said: "Most experts predict there will be unprecedented turnover, because the pandemic provided so many employees with the time to reflect about their work-life balance.
"These re-prioritisations, which will lead to turnover, will also lead to a war on talent, where employers will be working to both retain their top talent and recruit top talent to replace those employees who opt to move on to new opportunities."
Rassas said in this type of environment it is going to be increasingly important for employers to ensure their employees are open about their wants and needs, so they have the opportunity to determine whether they can address them.
"And, of course, compensation is going to be critical part of these conversations."
"Employers should encourage open conversations about compensation expectations now, when their employees are working for them and things are going well because once your employees start to go into the workplace an entertain new offers it may be too late."

The research was carried out by retailer Love Energy Savings who surveyed 1,312 UK employees in June 2021.