Workers more confident and inclined to negotiate pay, according to annual study

    MENLO PARK, CA, and CHICAGO, Sept. 5 /CNW/ - Job candidates are more apt
to ask for higher starting salaries this year, and companies may have to up
the ante to attract them. That's according to an annual study on employment
and compensation trends by Robert Half International (RHI) and titled The Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations
(EDGE) Report.
    Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers polled for the project said it was
difficult to find qualified candidates 12 months ago; 91 percent said
recruiting is equally or more challenging today. More than half (52 percent)
of hiring managers who are having trouble recruiting cited a shortage of
qualified professionals.
    As the competition for skilled labor has become more pronounced,
58 percent of workers polled said they are more likely to negotiate a better
compensation package today than 12 months ago - double the number from last
year's poll.
    The survey includes responses from more than 1,000 hiring managers and
900 workers, and was conducted from July 19 to August 7 by Harris Interactive.
It was designed to compare and contrast the perspectives of hiring managers
and workers to determine which group has more negotiating power in the current
job market.

    Competition for Talent Remains Intense

    Since The EDGE Report was introduced in 2005, the number of employers
expressing concern over the ability to fill open positions has climbed
steadily. In 2005, 42 percent of hiring managers reported it was difficult to
recruit qualified employees 12 months prior and 32 percent felt it was even
more challenging at the present time. In 2006, 55 percent of hiring managers
reported it was difficult to recruit qualified staff 12 months prior while
34 percent stated that it was even more challenging at the present time. In
2007, 57 percent of hiring managers reported it was difficult to recruit
qualified employees 12 months prior and 33 percent felt it is even more
challenging today. Sixty-four percent of current respondents believe
recruiting will be just as challenging 12 months from now while 28 percent
believe it will be even more challenging.
    As found in last year's survey, professional and technical staff members
were reported to be the most difficult to recruit. Forty-three percent of
employers said they are struggling to find candidates for these positions, an
increase from 37 percent last year. Seventeen percent reported difficulty
filling director, manager, supervisor and team leader positions, up from
15 percent the prior year. The survey results also show that these are the
types of positions for which employers are most likely to increase
    "The survey results from 2005 to present show an increasingly competitive
job market for professional-level and highly skilled positions," said Max
Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "To recruit
successfully, companies must 'sell' applicants on the benefits of working for
their firms. Organizations that are adept at promoting the positive and unique
aspects of their corporate cultures to prospective hires have a significant
advantage over their competitors."
    Given the steady job creation over the last few years, it's not
surprising that workers have gradually expressed a more optimistic view. In
2005, 55 percent of workers polled said it was difficult to find a job
12 months prior and 42 percent said it was even more challenging at the
present time. In 2006, the numbers improved, with 42 percent stating it was
difficult to find a job 12 months ago and 37 percent saying it was even more
challenging at the present time. This year brought similar results with
43 percent of workers saying it was difficult to find a job 12 months ago and
35 percent stating it's more challenging today.

    Compensation Trending Upward

    Similar to previous findings, roughly one in five employers attributed
their difficulty in recruiting qualified staff to the inability to offer
competitive salaries. Still, 37 percent plan to increase compensation for new
hires, which is consistent with last year.
    Workers appear to feel more confident during job negotiations. Fifty-five
percent of employees surveyed reported their compensation has increased over
the last 12 months, compared to 45 percent last year. Moreover, 58 percent
said they would likely negotiate higher compensation if accepting a new job
offer, compared with 29 percent in 2006.
    "With an employee-driven market comes a shift in negotiating power," said
Matt Ferguson, CEO of "Workers are becoming more aggressive
in demands for compensation and benefits with both current and potential
employers. But it's important to remember that while higher pay may help to
initially appease the employee, it's ultimately the overall work culture,
sense of personal contribution and opportunities that keep an employee on

    Taking Steps to Reduce Turnover

    While trying to win over potential new hires, employers also are striving
to retain their top performers. Roughly one in five hiring managers reported
that their voluntary employee turnover rate is higher than it was 12 months
ago, which is consistent with the past two years' findings.
    Thirty-one percent of hiring managers said their firms have instituted
new policies and programs to increase staff retention rates in the last
12 months. The primary measures taken included offering bonuses (23 percent),
increasing pay (16 percent), improving the office environment (15 percent) and
providing a more defined career path (10 percent).
    Hiring managers may want to rethink those retention efforts, however, and
focus on things more closely related to work-life balance. The top perks that
workers said would cause them to choose one job over another were flexible
schedules (65 percent), telecommuting opportunities (33 percent), employee
stock purchase plans (33 percent) and on-site fitness facilities (31 percent).

    Survey Methodology

    This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of among 1,035 employers (employed full-time; not self
employed; with at least some involvement in hiring decisions), and more than
900 employees (employed full-time; not self employed; with no involvement in
hiring decisions) ages 18 and over within the United States between July 19 to
August 7, 2007. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and
household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with
their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was
also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
    With a pure probability sample of 1,035 one could say with a 95 percent
probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 3 percentage
points. With a pure probability sample of 903 one could say with a 95 percent
probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 3.3
percentage points. Sampling error for data from subsamples is higher and
varies. However, that does not take other sources of error into account. This
online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no
theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    About Robert Half International

    Founded in 1948, Robert Half International (NYSE:   RHI) is the world's
first and largest specialized staffing firm with more than 350 offices
worldwide. The company's professional staffing divisions include
Accountemps(R), Robert Half(R) Finance & Accounting, and Robert Half(R)
Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project
professionals, respectively, in the fields of accounting and finance;
OfficeTeam(R), for highly skilled temporary office support; Robert Half(R)
Technology, for information technology professionals; Robert Half(R) Legal,
for project and full-time staffing of lawyers, law clerks, paralegals and
legal support personnel; and The Creative Group(R), for creative, advertising,
marketing and web design professionals. For more information about the
specialized staffing and recruitment divisions of Robert Half International,

    About is the nation's largest online job site with more than
22 million unique visitors and over 1.5 million jobs. Owned by Gannett Co.,
Inc. (NYSE:  GCI), Tribune Company (NYSE:  TRB), The McClatchy Company (NYSE:  MNI)
and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:   MSFT), the company offers a vast online and print
network to help job seekers connect with employers. powers
the career centers for more than 1,100 partners, including 150 newspapers and
leading portals such as America Online and MSN. More than 300,000 employers
take advantage of's easy job postings, 23 million-plus
resumes, Diversity Channel and more. and its subsidiaries
operate in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

    Charts with survey findings can be found at
    Please visit for a copy of the full report.

For further information:

For further information: To schedule an interview for Canadian
commentary and perspective, please contact: Robert Half International, Jason
Chapman, (416) 350-2330, extension 62070,

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Robert Half International (Canada)

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