Over half of employees in the creative industry say they are not paid their worth

Major Player's latest salary census uncovers an expectation gap between employee and employer

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


A significant proportion of the workforce currently feel undervalued and underpaid. This is according to new data from Major Players Creative Industries Salary Census 2024.

The survey found that 53% of employees believe they’re not paid their worth. This is despite 44% of permanent employees receiving a pay increase in the last 12 months. The data is indicative of an expectation gap between employers and employees showing that priorities of talent are misaligned with organizations.

Major Player's annual Creative Industries Salary Census uses data from their annual survey made up of 3821 responses with over 146,000 data sets in addition to 8268 entries to their online salary benchmarking tool. The report uncovers representation gaps within the workforce, as well as exploring employee expectations and opinions of workplace trends.

“Over the last 18 months, businesses and employees have had to adapt to the “never normal” – a reality where continued geographical turmoil, economic turbulence, environmental challenges, and technological advancements, are not merely disruptions, but persistent aspects off our daily lives.” says Rosa Rolo, Managing Director, Major Players.

She adds: “For businesses and talent alike, this adaptation has meant that priorities have shifted and how we work, the importance of work in our lives, and even what we mean by work, continues to transform daily.”

Evolving employee expectations

Against this turbulent backdrop, ensuring that talent and organisations are aligned is essential in creating a happy and productive workforce. As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, it comes as no surprise that remuneration remains crucial for employees.

The desire for a good work/life balance and positive working environment are also priority with the most important benefits found to be: Holiday Allowance (85%), Flexible Working Hours (82%), Pensions (72%), Mental Wellbeing (70%) and L&D (58%).

With the industry facing a mental health crisis and NABS’ Advice Line has seen an increase in calls by 35% with the top reasons for contact being emotional support (37%), Major Players cited that 7 out of 10 employees are wanting greater mental health support in the workplace, with 30% currently getting little to no support. At current almost a third of the workforce (30%) believe changing roles will benefit their mental wellbeing.

A misalignment in employee-employer expectations has been exacerbated this year as more of Gen Z enters the workplace and a more multigenerational approach is needed. In 2024, Gen Z will overtake Boomers for the first time and by 2025, make up 27% of the workforce, and 58% by 2030.

The research shows that those aged 18-24 are prioritising career progression with 52% of Gen-Zers expecting to be promoted every 12-18 months.

People aged 25-44 are prioritising salary and bonuses, maintaining a good work/life balance and having a positive work environment while those aged 55+ have very different work requirements, placing greater emphasis on having interesting work, a positive work environment and great culture, focussing more on job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Closing the gaps

The report showed some progress in closing the gender pay gap as  mandatory reporting came into law in the UK In 2018, but underlined the need for more representation in the workforce and more reporting needed to make significant progress especially in C-suite level representation and to close the ethnicity pay gap.

While the gender pay gap has narrowed from 15.1% to 10.1%, representation at senior levels and C-Suite remains a challenge. 28% of females are now earning over £70,000, a 9% increase on last year compared to 38% of males but there are still twice as many men in roles paying £100,000+ than females.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation decreased slightly from 15.6% to 14.8% and so is now much lower than the UK average of 18.3% and the London average of 39.9%. Representation at senior or C-Suite Level has declined by more than half in the last 12 months, with 4% of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees in roles paid above £70k, versus 11% last year.

The most gaping gaps are evident when the data is looked at intersectionality. Despite 29% of the Creative Industries having some form of disability, those with a disability, mental health condition or neurodiversity are paid 10% less than those who do not. For the second year running the report has uncovered a disparity increase for LGBTQIA+ talent who are now earning £6,987 less than their heterosexual counterparts.

The full report is available to
read here.

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