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Most UK workers don't think they're paid enough

Only four in ten (41%) UK workers think they are paid what they are worth, according to new research.

Non-management staff are among the most likely (48%) to feel underpaid, and they are least likely (33%) to have had a pay rise within the last six months, according to a poll by HR software provider CIPHR.

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Martyn Dicker, director of people at UNICEF, was surprised there was not more discontent.

He told HR magazine: “I’m surprised so many as 41% believe they’re paid their worth. Individual satisfaction levels in relation to pay are not fixed, and external events — such as a global pandemic, Brexit and rising inflation —  have an impact.

“One shouldn’t forget endowment bias, either, which sees us attribute a premium to our own skills — and leads us to thinking we should be paid more.”

This autumn’s labour shortages, and the so-called ‘great resignation’ have caused many employees to reconsider their worth.

Dicker added: “To help quantify what is equitable, it’s important to undertake regular benchmarking, and share as much information as appropriate to ensure that your employees can see that the process and outcomes are fair.”

The survey also reported that 38% of employees have not had a pay rise in over a year, and 43% of employees have not requested one. 

This will change, said Sophie Forrest, managing director of ForrestHR, as employees hope for their share of the post-COVID rebound.

She told HR magazine: “It’s not surprising that 43% of staff haven’t asked for a pay rise in the last year as so many businesses have faced so much uncertainty — but with some sectors booming now, this may well change.”

She added that there will always be tension between what employers want to pay and what a worker thinks they are worth. 

“This is likely to be aggravated in the current climate, with the cost of living going up relentlessly and vacancies topping more than a million for the first time since records began,” she said.

While vacancies have grown, the number of unemployed people per vacancy has shrunk to its lowest recorded level.

In such a turbulent employment market, Forrest said, one of the key challenges for employers and HR managers is to build staff loyalty.

She continued: “Especially after such a challenging period, showing staff that you appreciate everything they have done for your business across the pandemic by offering a pay rise may cost you less in the long run.”