The Great British pay rise: What do Brits think?

New research results from MoneyGuru show how the public really judge the issue of their pay rises.

The issue of pay rises in the workplace is rarely far from the news, or our collective minds. From the lop-sided male v female BBC pay scale, to the wild increases of city-slickers at a time of recession, pay rises are quite rightly a divisive subject.

Financial experts Money Guru were keen to gauge the views of the British workforce and how they felt the pay rise debate really played out at ground level.

  • Men are three times more likely to have flirted with their boss for a pay rise
  • Both sexes prefer to ask a boss of their own gender for a rise
  • 50 per cent of people believe upper classes have an advantage when it comes to pay rises
  • 40 per cent don’t believe performance is the main key to a pay rise

The survey of 1500 tax-paying British adults looks at how the public judges the pay rise issue, away from the stories dominating the newspaper headlines.

Is it okay to flirt?

One in three men find it acceptable to flirt with their boss in order to improve their chances of a pay rise, and 40 per cent admit to having done so. This compares to a mere 12 per cent of women finding flirtation acceptable, with 20 per cent confessing to have employed such a tactic. We also learned the difference in flirtatious behaviour in relation to geographical location. Men in London are 20 per cent more likely to flirt than women in the same area.

Male v female bosses

A whopping 69 per cent of men believe it’s easier to ask a male boss for a pay rise than a female boss. In contrast, 60 per cent of women find it easier to ask a female boss than a male one. The result shows a public still more comfortable with its own gender when it comes to tricky situations, but with women placing much less emphasis on gender than their male counterparts.

35 per cent of women believe asking for a pay rise makes them ‘pushy’

The results of this question show the confusion surrounding the subject. In workplaces where a set pay structure exists, it is much easier to bring the question up. In workplaces without a set pay structure, the public is undecided as to how they will be perceived when asking.

Forty per cent of men believe asking for a pay rise makes them look ambitious, compared to 25 per cent of women. An average of 26 per cent of both genders think it’s assertive, but tellingly,
35 per cent of women are worried it makes them look pushy compared to 19 per cent of men. Around 15 per cent of both sexes feel it makes them look too materialistic. Is this classic British ‘not wanting to make a fuss’ behaviour at work?

Transparency of pay scales

When it comes to pay scales and transparency, men and women’s views differed little. Around 32 per cent of the overall vote want full transparency, with everyone in a workplace knowing everyone else’s income. Twenty-eight per cent want this information kept quiet, and 32 per cent are fans of pay scales being public, but specifics kept quiet. With solid arguments behind all three viewpoints, the issue of transparency is certainly one that brings British concepts of fairness to the fore.

The rich still have the upper hand

Over half the people surveyed thought the upper classes more likely to receive a pay rise than other classes. Despite politicians talking of a ‘classless society’ for decades and class systems evolving with developments in industry, class evidently remains a major issue for the British public, with a majority believing the rich still have the upper hand.

Reasons behind a pay rise

Forty per cent of people surveyed believe flirtatious tactics or personal assertiveness the key to a pay rise, with a quarter of men putting a raise down to a personal relationship with their boss. However, it is somewhat heart-warming to see that 60 per cent of people still believe the main reason why people receive a pay rise is down to performance. The oft-heard slogan of ‘work hard and prosper’ appears to be alive and well when it comes to Brits and their desire for a raise.

Further reading on pay rise

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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