Cash in at Work or Clean Up at Home?

Study Reveals Canadian Employee Confidence Levels at Work

Toronto, ON – Public speaking has long been thought of as a recipe for anxiety, but it’s a one-on-one conversation that makes workers feel even less sure of themselves: asking the boss for a raise. According to a new study from Robert Half, over a quarter of Canadian professionals (28 per cent) feel confident when asking for a pay increase, compared to 48 per cent who feel self-assured when public speaking. The discomfort around these conversations is further reflected in the percentage of survey respondents who – rather than ask for a raise – would prefer to clean their house (39 per cent), look for a new job (10 per cent), get a root canal (3 per cent), or be audited by the CRA (3 per cent).

The insecurity around asking for a raise is not new but has changed slightly over time, according to the three-year study: Last year, 31 per cent of professionals felt confident when asking for a raise; in 2015, the percentage was 35 per cent.

Robert Half’s Confidence Matters research outlines workers’ confidence levels and attitudes about a variety of career and salary topics. More than 400 Canadian workers employed full-time in office environments were surveyed by an independent research firm for it. The survey was also conducted in 2015 and 2016.

“When it comes to confidence at work, knowledge truly is power,” said Greg Scileppi, president, Robert Half International Staffing Operations. “Professionals with a thorough understanding of in-demand skills and salary trends in their area are better able to measure their value, and are more self-assured in articulating their contributions to the business as they negotiate their compensation, at either an existing job or for a prospective role.”

Although many workers don’t relish salary negotiations, 27 per cent of survey respondents said they plan to ask for a raise this year, with the primary reason being that their salary hasn’t grown with their job duties – the top response for three years running. 

Here are three additional takeaways from the Confidence Matters research:

#1: Employees Confident in Their Companies and Job Prospects

  • 70 per cent of respondents feel confident in their employer’s stability.
  • 42 per cent feel confident about their job prospects.
  • 56 per cent feel confident in a job interview.

#2:  Many Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

  • 48 per cent of workers say they have never checked their salaries against the going market rates for the positions, compared to 43 per cent in 2015; only 8 per cent have checked their salaries against the going rates within the last month.

#3:  There’s a Lot on the Line

  • 19 per cent of workers said they would look for a new job if their request for a raise was declined.
  • 22 per cent of respondents who plan to ask for a raise said they need the money to cover basic needs.

Organizations benefit from having confident employees who aren’t afraid to vocalize ideas or identify new opportunities for business growth, added Scileppi. “Managers should cultivate open communication with employees, and make time for frequent check-ins to review their individual goals, progress and preferences, which will promote morale by ensuring staff feel recognized and supported.”

About Robert Half
Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has 325 staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search and management tools at For career and management advice, follow our blog at Follow Robert Half Canada on Twitter at @RobertHalf_CAN for additional workplace advice and hiring trends.