November 27, 2018

Do your employees think that you value their work?

When it comes to compensation and promotions, Ceridian’s 2018 Pulse of Talent revealed that employers and employees see things differently. Take note, HR leaders – if employees don’t feel their work is valued, they’ll begin searching for new opportunities. Here are highlights from our findings.

Organizations can recognize an employee’s contributions in a few tangible ways, such as a bigger paycheck, more responsibility (with or without a new title), or more opportunities to work on new projects.

However, Ceridian’s 2018 Pulse of Talent found that when it comes to compensation and promotions, employers and employees often see things differently. This highlights a challenge for HR leaders – employees that don’t think their work is properly valued or appreciated will feel less loyal to their companies, and won’t put in their best performances.

The survey of 2,001 full-time employees in North America, conducted by The Nielsen Company, revealed interesting findings about when employees feel they should be promoted, and their expectations for salary increases and career development. Here are some highlights.


Although 65% of respondents said they felt they’re paid fairly in relation to other people at their company with similar job titles, only 58% of employees surveyed feel they have had adequate pay increases based on the amount of time they’ve been at their company.

According to the 2018 Pulse of Talent, respondents expect a median salary increase of 5% a year, although those who have been with their organizations between three and 10 years, as well as those with higher seniority, expect a 10% increase in annual salary.

This expectation doesn’t necessarily line up with what employers are planning. For example, Mercer’s 2018/2019 U.S. Compensation Planning Survey states that U.S. employer merit salary increase budgets are holding steady at 2.8% - despite increasing concerns over retaining talent and a tight labor market.

What to do? One key, says Ceridian’s Chief People and Culture Officer, Lisa Sterling, is for employers to be transparent with salary expectations, as well as understand competitive benchmarks.

Another key factor is to think of “compensation” as more than simply merit, or a number on a pay stub, and communicate that. “When you help an employee understand the total investment being made in him or her across all of the different elements, people start to look at the effectiveness, fairness, and competitiveness of their pay in a very different light,” says Sterling.

Related: The new compensation strategy: Be more creative


In a similar vein, only 52% of employees surveyed think their companies give promotions when deserved. In fact, respondents said that two years, on average, is a reasonable timeframe to receive a promotion at their current employer, but reported that they themselves received a promotion in five years, on average. Further, respondents appear to believe tenure is related to promotions.

These findings, similar those above about compensation, are also tied to lack of transparency and setting expectations, Ceridian’s Sterling says in the report. “HR professionals and company leaders should do a better job setting guidelines and expectations for how employees receive promotions,” she says.

Growth opportunities

One of the most revealing findings of the report is what pushes even satisfied workers to consider a job change. Not surprisingly, income growth is one key factor: 28% of respondents considering a move in the next few years say it’s because they don’t think the company will be able to meet their salary expectations.

However, a larger number of responses indicate that what employees really want is career growth. A desire to tackle new challenges every few years drives 39% of respondents to consider a move, while 32% say they feel they need to leave to advance their career.

This trend was particularly clear amongst respondents in junior and intermediate positions, who, even if they are happy in their current jobs, feel the need to look outside their company for career progression and to make more money.

Related: The annual performance review is dead – create a performance development culture instead

These findings point to the importance of HR leaders and managers having regular and ongoing discussions about career progression and performance development – and be transparent about their opportunities.

How important are career growth and succession planning? Read more in Ceridian’s 2018 Pulse of Talent.

Danielle Ng-See-Quan

Dani is the Managing Editor, Content Marketing at Ceridian.

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