Money Matters: Survey Finds Canadian Workers Are Scrutinizing Salaries; Feelings Split on Pay Satisfaction

Nearly half of professionals in Canada feel underpaid

  • 56 per cent of workers say they’ve checked their salary against market rates within the last year; more than half have compared their salaries with coworkers
  • Robert Half 2020 Salary Guides reveal starting salaries for more than 400 positions

Toronto, ON — Canadian employees are putting in more work when it comes to knowing their worth, according to new research from global staffing firm Robert Half. The studies revealed that 75 per cent of professionals feel well-informed about what they should be making in their current position, and 56 per cent say they’ve checked their salary against market rates through online resources, salary guides or job postings in the last year ― up from 52 per cent in a similar survey two years ago. The majority of workers, 53 per cent, also admit to comparing notes on compensation with coworkers.

While their level of salary research may be rising, many workers aren’t liking what they’re finding, the survey suggests. Only 49 per cent feel they are adequately paid.

More than 400 workers across Canada were surveyed for each of these studies. The research was issued in conjunction with the release of the Robert Half 2020 Salary Guides, which provide starting salary ranges for more than 400 positions in the accounting, finance, technology, creative, legal and administrative support fields.

“It’s crucial for employers to stay current on local compensation trends, especially as a growing number of workers make an effort to educate themselves on how their salary stacks up,” said David King, senior district president for Robert Half. “Employees are more likely to stick around if they believe their contributions are valued and rewarded. Providing competitive compensation packages that are responsive to shifting employee preferences, and include perks like commute subsidies, wellness benefits and professional development opportunities, are key to keeping professionals engaged.”

View an infographic of the survey findings.

Additional Findings

  • Workers on their worth: The majority (75 per cent) of professionals said they are well-informed and know what they should be making in their position.
  • Overall perceptions on pay: Nationally, 49 per cent of workers feel underpaid, 50 per cent believe they are paid fairly and one per cent admitted they feel overpaid.
  • Compensation chatter: Fifty-seven per cent of workers ages 18-34 have discussed salaries with colleagues, compared to 53 per cent of professionals ages 35-54 and 45 per cent of those ages 55 and older.
  • The power of knowledge: While most workers who have talked salary with colleagues did nothing with the information (86 per cent) 11 per cent used the information to ask for a raise and four per cent tapped it when negotiating a new job offer. Ninety-four per cent of respondents 55 and older didn’t use the information gleaned, but this number falls to 87 per cent for those 35-54 and 82 per cent for workers 18-34.

“To successfully navigate a salary discussion, workers must be able to articulate the value of their expertise, and demonstrate the tangible impact they’ve had on an organization or team,” advised King. “While negotiating with a solid pay range in mind is important, professionals should know where they’re willing to compromise, and be open to considering alternatives, like extra vacation days, remote work options or flexible schedules, if the company isn’t able to meet their salary request.”

For more information on salaries, visit the Robert Half Salary Calculator, which includes starting salary ranges for hundreds of positions adjusted for local markets.  

About the Research

The online surveys were developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm. Each survey includes responses from more than 400 workers employed in office environments across Canada.


About the Salary Guides

Robert Half has reported on salaries since 1950. The company gathers information from its specialized recruiters throughout its Canadian offices to compile the Salary Guides. Information in the guides is based on the thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements managed by Robert Half's staffing and recruiting managers. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported because many external factors — such as seniority, work ethic, job performance and training — impact the salaries of full-time professionals as work histories develop.


About Robert Half

Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. The company has more than 300 staffing locations worldwide and offers job search services at For additional career and management advice, visit the Robert Half blog at