53% of us don't share our salary details with our families

15 July 2008

According to research carried out by Ceridian, 53% of us won't share our salary details even with our families!

A survey released today from Ceridian, one of the largest providers of human resource services in the world, has revealed what a nation of secretive Brits we are.  A shocking 53% of us don’t share our salary details with our families.

Despite being so secretive the survey also revealed what a nation of hypocrites we are:  almost five in ten respondents said they would be interested to know what their colleagues earn but 70% wouldn’t tolerate having their salary details disclosed to their colleagues! 

The survey revealed that the younger the respondent the more likely they were to be interested in knowing what their colleagues were earning – 72% of 18-24 year olds as opposed to only 29% cent of over 55s. 

We are quite sheepish about asking for a pay increase too.  One in thirty three respondents said they would rather leave a company than ask for a salary increase and one in six respondents said they would never dream of asking for a salary increase.  How bullish people are about asking for a pay increase depends on their age, with older respondents more prepared to take the bull by the horns.  Just 19% of under 34s feel comfortable asking for a pay rise while 81% cent of over 35s feel comfortable with it. 

Men were also revealed to be more direct about asking for a pay increase.  Of the 8% of respondents who claimed they would negotiate hard for a salary increase, three quarters were men. 

Karan Paige, Chief People Officer of Ceridian UK, the company which commissioned the survey, commented: “Our research demonstrates that pay is an important personal issue and one which employers need to think carefully about.  46% of respondents indicated that they would be interested to know what their colleagues earn but making salary grades of employees transparent across an organisation is a complex matter and likely to remain an issue of constant debate amongst employers.  That said, managers need to be sympathetic and responsive to the needs of employees.”

Piers Hollier, a business psychologist, from Getfeedback, commented:  “Ceridian’s survey shows what a status driven society we have become and in this day and age salary clearly represents status.  One of the reasons people might choose not to divulge their salary details with their family could be because it puts a cash value on them.  This can especially be the case with competitive siblings. 

He added:  “It’s not that hard to see why older people aren’t hugely interested in others’ salary.  They have learnt what to expect for certain roles but young people don’t yet have that frame of reference.  Equally, older people may be more content with their work-life balance and salary isn’t the only thing on their minds at this stage in their life.  This isn’t the case with younger people who are still striving to develop a work-life balance.”

Download the full report.