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Blue Monday: Retail industry has unhappiest workers in UK

This Blue Monday, new data reveals that Retail workers are the most miserable staff in the UK, according to research from job search engine Adzuna.co.uk.

Company Profile

Adzuna

• Retail is the most dissatisfied sector for pay, with average pay levels falling 1.6% year-on-year
• Yorkshire & Humberside is the most dissatisfied region when it comes to pay
• Widespread Salary Misery as almost 1/3 (28%) of UK Workers believe they are underpaid
• Two-thirds of workers (66%) believe they are due a pay rise in 2019

This Blue Monday, new data reveals that Retail workers are the most miserable staff in the UK, according to research from job search engine Adzuna.co.uk.

The survey, conducted by the job search engine in January 2019, asked 1,000 UK workers to define how satisfied they are with their salary, as well as their expectations for a pay rise this year. It also drilled down into UK regions and industry sectors to reveal which workers are most disappointed with their current earnings.

40% of Retail workers are unsatisfied, or very unsatisfied with their salary, making them the unhappiest workers in the UK. This is perhaps unsurprising considering the current average salary for Retail workers sits at £25,243, 1.6% lower than a year ago, and significantly under the average UK wage of £33,424. The outlook for the sector is also looking gloomy, with over 1,100 shops closing down on the high streets in the first half of 2018.** Several high profile failures have rocked the sector, including House of Fraser collapsing into administration, profit warnings at Debenhams and Toys R Us closing.

UK’s happiest and unhappiest industries

Following closely behind the retail industry, Charity & Not-for-Profit workers are also struggling, with 40% proving despondent on pay, including 20% who are very unsatisfied. Other suffering sectors include Science workers (38% unhappy), Customer Services staff (35% dissatisfied) and Energy Oil & Gas employees (33% unhappy).

Engineers are the happiest sector workers, with 58% either satisfied or very satisfied with their pay packets. This is closely followed by Healthcare & Medical at 55% and Teaching jobs at 53%. In fact, teaching jobs have seen the biggest annual pay rise of any industry, with average salaries climbing 15.9% year-on-year to £30,889 - although this has been propped up by private teachers and tutors charging higher salaries.

Thankfully, there are more ways than ever for people to find out if they could be worth more than they are currently earning, with 10s of 1000s of British workers now turning to online valuation tools like ValueMyCV to help understand if they are due a pay rise.

Yorkshire & Humberside workers grumbling most on pay

Workers in Yorkshire & Humberside are most dissatisfied with their pay, with 44% proving unsatisfied including 28% confessing to being very unsatisfied. Average advertised salaries in Yorkshire currently sit at only £29,443, the second lowest of any region and significantly below average pay across the UK (£33,424).

Yorkshire workers also proved among the most pessimistic on pay, with only 59% of employees expecting a pay rise in 2019, second only to the North East (51%). The region has seen a 2.4% annual rise in average salaries, but has lagged behind nationwide increases of 3.9% as pay rates have stagnated in the North in recent months.

The South East is the second most dissatisfied region, with 41% of workers feeling underpaid, followed by the South West (37%) and Wales (36%).

By comparison, the happiest location for workers is London, with 56% of employees saying they are satisfied or very satisfied with their salaries. This is followed by the North East, where 51% of people are satisfied or very satisfied with their salaries. The North East hiring hub Sunderland currently has one of the highest levels of competition for jobs, with 2.6 jobseekers for each vacancy on the jobs market, and the region as a whole boasts the highest competition rate for England (1.2). As a result, workers in the region may be counting their blessings to be in a job, rather than focusing on climbing the salary ladder.

Widespread salary misery across the UK

Widespread salary dissatisfaction is spreading across the UK, with almost a third (28%) of workers unhappy with their current pay-packets.

Across the UK as a whole, just 15% of employees are completely satisfied with their current salary. Overall, satisfaction rates have improved from January 2015 when 52% of Brits said they were unhappy, but there is still substantial work to be done.

Furthermore, two-thirds of UK workers believe they are due a pay rise in January 2019, with 66% of women believing they are due a rise, compared to 65% of men.

Women becoming more ambitious about pay

Interestingly, the proportion of women backing themselves on pay has risen from 55% in January 2015, suggesting women are becoming more ambitious about their salaries. In 2018, all companies in Great Britain were required to start reporting on their gender pay gap, exposing pay differences in the workplace and encouraging conversations about gender parity. Compared to four years ago, this rise in the proportion of women believing they are due a pay rise suggests it may be getting easier for women to have conversations about pay in the workplace.

But there remains work to be done, with the latest figures from the ONS showing the gender pay gap currently sits at 8.6% among full-time employees, and many traditionally female industries, like Retail, currently suffering salary stagnation.*

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “It’s unsurprising, and yet disheartening, to see that retail is the unhappiest sector in the UK, as consumers swap ‘bricks for clicks’. However, generally it’s clear that a salary malaise is spreading across the country. Political uncertainty and a stuttering economy meant salaries stalled at the end of last year, despite vacancy levels remaining high and skilled workers hard to come by. As a result, the majority of workers feel like they deserve a pay rise this January. Preparation is key if you’re planning to ask your boss for a raise. Find out if your pay is competitive using a tool like ValueMyCV to see if you are being underpaid. Up-skilling is another way to climb the wage ladder, particularly in shortage industries like IT and Engineering. Taking advantage of training opportunities could be another way to get ahead.”

Table 1: UK’s unhappiest workers - by sector

 

Sector

% of workers dissatisfied or very satisfied with current pay levels

Average Salary

Annual Salary Change

1

Retail

40%

£25,243

-1.6%

2

Charity & Not-for-Profit

40%

£29,234

1.8%

3

Science

38%

£37,967

-3.9%

4

Customer Services

35%

£20,853

1.5%

5

Energy Oil & Gas

33%

£40,411

2.1%

Table 2: UK’s happiest workers - by sector

 

Sector

% of workers satisfied or very satisfied with current pay levels

Average Salary

Annual Salary Change

1

Engineering

58%

£40,775

4.8%

2

Healthcare & Medical

55%

£35,535

0.1%

3

Teaching

53%

£31,323

14.3%

4

Legal

53%

£45,158

6.3%

5

HR & Recruitment

51%

£30,460

0.7%

Table 3: UK’s unhappiest workers - by location

 

Sector

% of workers unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with current pay levels

1

 Yorkshire and Humberside

44%

2

South East

41%

3

              South West

37%

Table 4: UK’s happiest workers - by location

 

Sector

% of workers satisfied or very satisfied with current pay levels

1

London

56%

2

North East

51%

3

West Midlands

51%

*Figures taken from ONS release “Gender pay gap in the UK: 2018”

**https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46142025