Nearly 90% of workers feel they deserve a raise, but only half will ask for one

While 89% of U.S. workers surveyed by staffing firm Robert Half believe they deserve a raise, just over half (54%) plan to ask for one this year. Instead of making the case for a pay bump, many workers would rather clean the house (32%), look for a new job (13%), get a root canal (7%) or be audited by the IRS (6%).

Robert Half's Confidence Matters research outlines workers' confidence levels and attitudes about a variety of career and salary topics. More than 1,000 U.S. workers employed full-time in office environments were surveyed by an independent research firm for it.

The survey revealed several areas in which workers are feeling upbeat. Eighty percent of respondents are confident about the stability of their current employer, and nearly two-thirds (65%) are more confident in their job prospects now compared to one year ago.

Surprisingly, the research also indicates that one of life's greatest fears may be losing its stigma, at least when compared to talking about pay: More workers are comfortable speaking in public (66%) than asking for a raise (56%) or negotiating salary at a new job (61%).

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%) would wait for the next performance review to ask again. Another 24% would ask for better perks, and 19% would look for a new job.

When it comes to knowing what they're worth in the market, the majority of employees are keeping tabs: 59% of professionals have checked their salary against market rates based on third-party research within the last year; 20% have done so in the last month. However, 27% of workers surveyed admitted they had never done this research.

The study also revealed:

  • The most likely employee 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 U.S.
  • Twenty-seven percent of employees in the Northeast 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%.
  • Employees in the South show the greatest confidence in the stability of their employers.

More men than women would rather look for a new job or be audited by the IRS instead of asking for a raise.

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