Are Employees Ready to Wage a “Wage War”? A recent survey says yes!

July 12, 2016 | Bryan Barajas

survey 4 In past years, employers have had the upper hand over anxious job seekers.  However, the findings in Spherion’s new 2016 Emerging Workforce Study (EWS) shows that shifting economic conditions and a strong job market are giving power back to employees.

According to the survey, more employees believe they have leverage to demand higher salaries and better benefits from their employers OR they will look for them elsewhere!

The study indicates that employers seem to recognize the importance of raising wages to retain top employees – (74%) of companies say they have increased wages to remain competitive. A nearly equal number (73%) say they have seen their competitors raise salaries.

However, 62% of employers who recognize the need to pay higher wages say they simply cannot afford to do so.

The impending “wage war” is not the only hot-button issue fueling changes in the workplace. The EWS highlighted other additional factors influencing how both employees and employers evaluate today’s most critical issues, some of which are noted below.

Employee Engagement: 23% of employers cite employee engagement as one of their top three concerns over the next two years. The research also uncovers some surprising disconnects between what employers think and what employees believe.

Employees are more engaged than employers believe.

  • Employers: 17% believe their employees are highly engaged
  • Employees: 50% said they are highly engaged

Employers and employees are somewhat misaligned on what drives engagement:


  • Relationship with boss
  • Company strength and stability
  • Impact on company success


  • Rewards for accomplishments
  • Impact on company success
  • Relationship with boss

Employee Retention: Employers continue to struggle with retention, with 47% reporting they have replaced more than 20% their workforce in last 12 months.  The EWS found that employers and employees share differing views on the factors influencing retention.

  • Employers:  Believe workers value more personal influencers, such as supervisor relationships.
  • Employees: Prioritize financial compensation in their decisions

Workplace Diversity: Employers and employees agree on the importance of diversity in the workplace. Both parties recognize that a diverse and inclusive workplace fosters growth and learning.

  • Employers: 89%
  • Employees: 75%

Both employees and employers agree that diversity and inclusion initiatives could be better executed.

“A” grade for their efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace:

  • Employers: 24%
  • Employees: 28

“C,” “D” or “F” grade:

  • Employer: 32%
  • Employee: 33%


Survey Methodology: The 2016 Emerging Workforce Study was conducted online during February and March 2016, among 416 human resource managers and 2,810 employed adults, ages 18 and older.

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