How much do you think you are worth?

I recall at the start of my career I was offered an increase in pay to reflect additional responsibilities I had been given and was meeting. Perhaps with the naivety of youth I was very disappointed and upset with the amount offered as I felt I was worth more than that. I ended up negotiating what I thought was a more suitable increase. But put that on one side; at the time I felt demotivated and undervalued.

Now, during the course of my career I have dealt with many situations where staff have felt undervalued by their employers, had a low sense of self- worth at work and consequently their job performance was less than desired.

I have learnt over the years that there is far more to feelings of worth at work than just pay. Maybe that can be the subject of another blog. However, pay is pretty fundamental to the equation. So, imagine my dismay at a report just released by Middlesex University. According to the report, British workers lose almost £3bn each year in unpaid wages and holiday, with recruitment agencies among those most likely to be wrongly paying staff.

23,000 occasions were identified where workers were not paid £2.7bn they were entitled to by their employers. This comprised £1.2bn in wages and £1.5bn in unpaid holiday, and included incidences where the underpayments were so severe employees were unable to afford necessities such as food.

The report goes on to say that Industries found to be most likely to incorrectly pay their staff were sports activities, amusement and recreation, food and beverage services, and recruitment agencies. London-based arts, entertainment and construction businesses also performed poorly. The conclusion was that the findings were likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

At the same time this report was issued, the latest figures showing real pay in the UK declining were released. The commentary with the figures included a statement that as well as high inflation, failure to increase productivity was a root cause of the decline.

Is it me, or might there be some link between the two reports …?

David Cawthorne, Cedar Human Resources

If you need advice please e-mail David at
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