Millenials Bashful About Asking for a Raise

Last Updated Jul 17, 2008 1:40 PM EDT

  • Gen Y Bashful About Asking for a RaiseThe Find: Gen Y has been accused of over-confidence, but when it comes to asking for a raise most are down right timid, at least in the UK; recent research shows only one in five British workers under 35 feel comfortable asking for a raise, compared with four in five workers over 35.
  • The Source: A survey from human resources company, Ceridian.
The Takeaway: Independent research agency Lightspeed spoke to 1,000 people employed in the UK on behalf of Ceridian about their salaries, their comfort level asking for a raise and their interest in their colleagues' pay. While some of the findings are less than revolutionary (in general, men are more aggressive than women about asking for a salary increase with only ten percent of guys saying they'd never dream of asking for a raise, compared with 20 percent of women), the most interesting insights are in regard to the differences between the generations. Young workers come out looking timid and nosy.

Among 18 to 24-year-olds, 73 percent told researchers they would be interested to know what their colleagues are earning. Only 29 percent of those over 55 admitted to being curious. Just 19 percent of respondents under 35 said they feel comfortable asking for an increase in pay, while 81 percent of those over 35 claimed to feel confident asking for more money.

Piers Hollier, a business psychologist at Getfeedback, feels there is a good explanation for the old guard's lack of interest in each others' salaries:

"It's not that hard to see why older people aren't hugely interested in others' salary. They have learnt what they can expect to earn 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."
Makes sense, but how can one explain younger workers' reluctance to have an uncomfortable sit-down with their boss about compensation? Sure, it's not the most fun you can have at work, but from all we've heard about the gumption of Gen-Y, one would have guessed they'd be more than willing to march in to the manager's office to talk about salary.

The Question: Does the same hold true on this side of the Atlantic? Are Gen Y workers bashful when it comes to asking for a pay hike?

(Image of bashful woman by milenamihaylova, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.