Fifty two percent of UK workers say they want their employers to help deal with the cost of living crisis. 

A report from Totaljobs has now raised concerns that current wages are not rising fast enough in line with inflation.

This is being demonstrated by employees calling for fairer pay, which includes being paid for overtime (36 percent). 

They also want subsidies for energy bills when working from home (27 percent), a one-time bonus (22 percent), and internet subsidies if working from home (19 percent). 

The salary squeeze

The research found that employees do not think their pay is keeping up with the rising cost of living. Nearly half (48 percent) say they have not had a pay rise in the past year, and the 42 percent of those who did only reported a rise of 5 percent or less – less than the current rate of inflation (5.5 percent). Moreover, a substantial proportion (30 percent) of employees say that their salary does not cover basic living costs.

 The research highlights just how much the rising cost of living is impacting workers across the country, with almost half (47 percent) stating that they have limited disposable income and are living pay slip to pay slip.

Jon Wilson, CEO of Totaljobs said: “During the course of the pandemic, everyone came to recognise the value and importance of our key workers. Society simply couldn’t have functioned without them, and they kept this country running. However, those we stood outside and clapped for every Thursday continue to be among the worst paid in our society.

“This research illustrates that everyone is feeling the pinch of the rising cost of living – yet it is disproportionately felt by our key workers – to the extent that some are looking to move jobs for one that provides them with more financial security.”

With this, more than a third of employers (37 percent) said that they were concerned about the quality of life for their employees due to rising living costs. In fact, 17 percent of workers have resorted to taking a second job to boost their income – rising to one fifth of essential workers. A further 30 percent are taking on extra shifts at work to earn more money.

A third of workers don’t expect their pay to increase in the next year, rising to 51 percent of social care workers, 41 percent of those working in education and 37 percent of healthcare professionals. For those that do expect a pay rise, 41 percent expect this to be 5 percent or less – with inflation expected to peak at least to 7 percent, this shows that a substantial majority expect their salary to shrink in real terms.

Cost of living causes career rethink

The rising cost of living is driving more than a third (37 percent) of people to consider changing jobs this year. This level rises to 47 percent amongst social care workers. In social care alone, this could mean an exodus of more than 700,000 care workers in the next year.

The research identified that essential workers were twice as likely to have handed in their notice in recent months and move into a different sector because they were offered more money (10 percent vs 5 percent). Half (48 percent) said they would be willing to change sectors completely in pursuit of better pay – the same figure for non-essential workers.

Living payslip to payslip

 Since the start of the year, 838,113 workers have resorted to taking on loans to fund basic living expenses, with 5 percent saying they’ve had to do this for the very first time. This figure rises to 9 percent when focused purely on essential workers, with 7 percent pushed into taking on debt for the first time. 

Of those who have resorted to taking on debt for the first time, the average amount is £1,522. The research found that for essential workers, this level of debt increased by £329, rising to £1,851.

Call for employer support

 The study found that 84 percent of employers are already taking action to support their staff. 35 percent are giving everyone a pay rise in line with inflation, 29 percent are letting employees choose where they work to help cushion expenditure, and 24 percent are offering financial wellbeing advice.

However, these measures can only go so far, with almost all employers (96 percent) wanting to see support from the government.

“It’s clear that the cost of living is having an impact on businesses and their staff,” said Mr Wilson: “We’d encourage employers to acknowledge the situation we’re in and have open conversations with their staff about financial wellbeing and renumeration.”  

“Now is the time to consider more holistic job offers that cater to the individual needs of candidates, especially for those hit hardest by the rise in everyday living costs. Such offers will be vital in retaining and attracting talent for the foreseeable future.”





Feyaza Khan has been a journalist for more than 20 years in print and broadcast. Her special interests include neurodiversity in the workplace, tech, diversity, trauma and wellbeing.