Workers’ pay rise expectations are riding high, as the cost of living crisis starts to bite

26 April, 2022

50% of UK workers are expecting a pay rise this year

London, UK – 26th April 2022: Workers have high expectations of being given a pay rise and are ready to push their employers to get it, as the cost of living rises sharply for many, reveals the ADP® Research Institute’s People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View.

Half of workers in the UK (50%) say they are expecting a pay rise this year and 55% are likely to ask for a pay rise if they feel they deserve one, according to the survey of almost 33,000 workers in 17 countries, including the UK.

Women are less likely to ask for a pay rise than men, with 47% and 64% respectively. Those who classify themselves as essential workers1 are more likely to do so than those who describe themselves as non-essential workers (58% compared to 50%). Interestingly, those who are working from home (61%) are more inclined to ask for a pay rise versus those who work on site or in the office (39%).

The findings come at a time when the cost of living is rising rapidly in the UK with an inflation at a 30 year record high and the energy cap crisis, and following two years of pandemic-related disruption to jobs.

Half (50%) of workers expect to get a pay rise in the next 12 months and more than a quarter (27%) expect to be given a promotion. This is despite only a third (32%) expecting to be given any increased responsibility, and just one in five (19%) who think they will have a formal review.

Overall, workers say pay is the most important factor to them in a job, with over half (56%) saying it is a priority, followed by job security (45%), flexibility over their hours (39%) and enjoyment of their work (34%)2. The report explores employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

Sirsha Halder, General Manager UK, Ireland & South Africa, ADP, comments: “Having worked hard through the strains of the pandemic, and with spiraling inflation creating a widespread cost of living crisis, many workers feel they need and are entitled to a raise. The vast majority are prepared to speak up to get one.”

“Employers should bear this in mind in today’s tight labour market, where maintaining a secure and stable skilled workforce is paramount, and more challenging than ever.”

“Pay is an even more pressing issue than normal right now and it is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, with a clear knock-on effect on recruitment and retention. Employers will have to reconcile that drive for higher wages with their own commercial imperatives, and with meeting workers’ requirements on other fronts, such as giving them the flexibility they also dearly want.”

One reason that workers may feel they deserve a pay rise is the number of extra hours of unpaid work many of them are doing, for example by starting early, staying late or working over breaks. On average, workers are working an additional 8.5 hours of unpaid overtime each week. This is less than in 2021 (when the global average was 9.2 hours), but it is still higher than before the pandemic in 2020, when workers did an average of 7.3 extra unpaid hours per week.

However, at the same time, 57% of workers say they would like more hours for more pay.

Sirsha says, “Given that so many workers are keen to put in more time in order to increase their income, it’s debatable how long they will continue to give away the equivalent of a day’s work for free to their employers, with no questions or compensation asked. In the current climate where there are so many pressures on workers – financial and otherwise – it is surely unsustainable to have so many people working well over their contracted hours for free.”


For more insights, please read the ‘ People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View’ report

About the research

People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View explores employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

ADP Research Institute® surveyed 32,924 workers in 17 countries around the world between 1 November and 24 November 2021. This included:

  • 15,683 in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK)
  • 3,829 in North America (USA and Canada)
  • 5,768 in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil and Chile)
  • 7,644 in Asia Pacific (Australia, China, India and Singapore)

Respondents were asked to self-classify whether they were an essential worker (including the definitions key worker or critical worker) or a non-essential worker. These definitions vary by location, organisation and government guidance. Generally, it includes those whose work is vital the ongoing functioning of society and everyday life, such as healthcare or logistics workers, police, government officials, journalists and supermarket staff. In some countries those in the financial services sector are also included.

The survey was conducted online in the local language. Overall results were weighted to represent the size of the working population for each country. Weightings are based on labour force data from the World Bank, which is derived using data from the ILOSTAT database, the central statistics database of the International Labour Organization (ILO), as of 8 February 2022.



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Media Contacts

Palina Antonava & George Cowell:


1 - See definition given in “About the research”

2 - Respondents were asked to pick up to three options