Many Would Rather Find a New Job than Ask for a Raise

As for knowing what they're worth in the market, most employees are keeping tabs

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Jun 26, 2015

Many employees are quietly stewing over their pay but lack the confidence to ask for a raise, and that is taking a toll on their engagement—and making it more likely they will seek new employment.

While 89 percent of U.S. workers surveyed by staffing firm Robert Half believe they deserve a raise, just over half (54 percent) plan to ask for one this year. Instead of making the case for a pay bump, many would rather look for a new job (13 percent), the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. workers showed.

How intimidated are workers about discussing compensation with their employer? More are comfortable speaking in public (66 percent)—or even negotiating salary at a new job (61 percent)—than asking their current employer for a raise (56 percent).

“Professional growth and earning potential depend not just on the demand for your skill set, but also on your willingness and ability to negotiate with current and prospective employers,” pointed out Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half.

While no one likes to be turned down for a raise, workers are split as to what they would do if they asked—but didn't get—the pay hike they wanted. The largest group of respondents (30 percent) would wait for the next performance review to ask again. Another 24 percent would ask for better perks and 19 percent would look for a new job.

The survey further revealed:

  • The kind of employee most likely to ask for a raise is male, ranging from 18-34 years of age, with 10 or fewer years of professional experience, and living in the Western United States.
  • 27 percent of employees in the Northeast United States would look for a new job if their request for a raise got turned down—the highest percentage of any region. Workers in the South came in next, at 19 percent.

Knowing What They’re Worth

While they may not be willing to broach the subject with their supervisor or the HR department, when it comes to knowing what they're worth in the market most employees are keeping tabs:

  • 59 percent of professionals have checked their salary against market rates based on third-party research within the last year.
  • 20 percent have done so in the last month.

“Those who don't do their homework often veer to one of two extremes—either they don't negotiate at all, or they demand too much,” said McDonald. “Professionals who back up their request with data and point out the value they bring to the firm are likely to have more productive discussions with their manager.”

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow Me on Twitter.

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