Survey of 350 UK professionals reveals a significant demand for increased salary transparency.

From the Great Resignation to Quiet Quitting, we love applying new labels to the recent cohorts of people who have fallen out of love with their jobs. Regardless of what we call them, we know that, in the past three years, people have been prepared to walk away from their jobs if they aren't happy. In fact, in 2022 alone, over a million professionals left their job in the UK and a record 50 million in the US.

The desire to earn more money is often a key motivator for people leaving - especially in the context of a cost-of-living crisis. But for the more reserved Brits, the topic of pay has always felt a bit uncomfortable. 

We wanted to understand how important salary was in deciding to stay or leave a role. Similarly, how today's workforce feels about discussing salary and whether greater transparency would be a welcomed and useful tool in negotiations about pay.

What we did 

To find out, we surveyed 350 career-driven professionals in the UK. We began by asking them what had motivated them to leave their job in 2023, with the following reasons topping the list:

  • earn more money (35%)

  • lack of flexibility (30%)

  • toxic boss or work environment (30%)

Key findings – a focus on salary 

Salary was an important factor for all respondents, with 39% sharing that they had requested a pay rise in 2023.

We then asked respondents how they felt about salary transparency, our findings indicated that employees do want to see a more open and transparent culture. 

When asked if they'd like to know how much their colleagues earn, 50% said they would. Over three-quarters (77%) said they wouldn't mind being asked about pay by a colleague and 70% said they would openly share how much they earn.

What is salary transparency? 

Also referred to as “wage transparency” or “pay transparency,” salary transparency refers to the practice of openly sharing compensation information with employees and job candidates. This can take many forms, from making individual employees' salaries publicly available, to providing details about salary structure and pay scales within a company. 

Often, the aim of salary transparency is to foster a more open and equitable working environment. When implemented properly, disclosing such details can help address pay gaps and build trust among employees. It also provides employees with the information they need to negotiate fair compensation and understand how their wages align with the contributions they make to the organisation.

Although the UK has long shied away from talking about salary in the workforce, new laws emerging within neighbouring countries such as the EU Pay Transparency Directive, may drive change in this area for the UK. This could impact how companies advertise salary details in job adverts and even the questions they are allowed to ask candidates about salary history during an interview.

Should you leave your job? Ask yourself these 5 questions

Our research highlights that there are several reasons why professionals are considering leaving a position – from a lack of flexibility to the desire to earn more money. All of these are valid reasons for wanting to quit your job. However, before you decide whether you should jump ship or stay the course, it's important to identify what feelings are driving this inclination to quit. Understanding the underlying cause of your feelings will help you sort out if quitting is the right course of action and, if so, help you find the right job sooner during your job hunt. 

Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine whether there's opportunity to improve your situation at your current place of employment with a little negotiation or whether the best approach is to explore your options elsewhere: 

  1. Have I learned all I can from the role?Are my talents being put to good use? If you're feeling bored, unchallenged or underutilised, find out if there are opportunities to take on new responsibilities, negotiate a promotion, or even apply for a job in a different department or line of business within the company before deciding whether or not to jump ship.
  2. Is there room for growth at the company? If you feel stagnant in your position, there are no professional-development opportunities available, and there is no opportunity to grow your skills and knowledge, it may be time to move on.
  3. Am I getting paid what I'm worth? If you're dissatisfied with your current salary, you're a strong performer, and your research shows that you are being paid under market value, it's time to negotiate for a better remuneration package. However, if you're unable to negotiate an acceptable rate, it might be time to find a role that properly rewards you for your talents.
  4. Is this job putting my health at risk? Sure, everyone has a bad day at work now and again. However, if you dread going to work each morning, count the minutes until you can leave or regularly have nightmares about the office, then take it as a sign to find a new job. Whether it's a toxic work environment, a tyrannical boss or the extreme amount of stress your job creates, no job is worth risking your health and mental wellbeing.
  5. Is the company stable? If the company has performed well this year, they may be more inclined to offer you more money or other perks that would make it worth staying. However, if the company is not faring well and you've lost faith in leadership's ability to turn things around, it may be time to secure work elsewhere. 

Of course, there are only so many things you can do to try and improve your situation at work. However, before you quit your job, consider whether you've done everything possible to improve things. Also, take inventory of your career and reflect on what you've liked and disliked about each role you've held. This will help you decide whether landing a similar role at a different company will make you happy or if you'll need to consider a bigger shift in your career goals to feel satisfied at work. 

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