According to Andy Scott, head of research at Momentum Intelligence, the news for business owners is not all bad.
Of course, there is a big difference between asking someone whether they want a pay rise and asking whether they expect to receive one. Thankfully for many business owners, the majority of employees are realistic in their expectations.
“Just to give everybody the headline numbers first, the question was ‘Are you expecting a pay rise over the next six months?’,” explains Andy, speaking of the survey that took place between July and September 2016.
“We had 40.2 per cent say yes and 59 per cent say no. Quite a lot of people are expecting to get a pay rise: that's two out of every five, which is potentially quite significant.”
Yet the majority admitted they were not expecting to receive an increase in the size of their pay packet.
“In small organisations, employees are quite close to the owners of the business and they're quite close to seeing how the engine is running and how things are ticking along,” says Andy.
He says that promotions were similarly not widely expected, as most employees understand the limitations for progression within smaller companies, as well as the fact that their job titles are generally less defined than in a corporate setting.
“Their role is to do a job that their boss wants, not necessarily what a title might deem. I think to say that ‘Yes, I'm not necessarily expecting a physical promotion’ … at the end of the day, if you're in a firm of five people, how far can you progress up that chain really?” Andy says.
So while the majority of employers are off the hook when it comes to shelling out more money for their workers and offering them promotions, does that mean employees are broadly happy in their current roles, or do they not care because they are actively seeking other jobs?
As Andy explains, most employers should feel a sense of relief here too, with three quarters (74 per cent) of respondents stating they are not planning to look for a new job in the next six months.
He adds that a rate of 26 per cent looking to change jobs, compared to other verticals including large corporate roles, is “quite low”.
“Certainly compared to some of the niche verticals that I've looked at, that [loyalty to their employer] is much higher,” Andy says.
“To me … it’s just another reflection of the overall confidence that there is in [the SME] sector.”