Employees are more confident about future pay raises and company outlook than they have been in the past four years.
That's according to a survey of 2,013 U.S. adults in the first quarter of 2012, who were surveyed for Sausalito, Calif.-based Glassdoor's Employment Confidence Survey.
Indeed, for the first time since the survey began tracking such trends -- in the fourth quarter of 2008 -- more employees (43 percent) expect a pay raise within the next 12 months than those who do not (38 percent).
"These are absolutely the brightest, most positive numbers we've seen," says Rusty Rueff, a member of Glassdoor's board of directors. "We're seeing the best numbers around employees finally feeling that their compensation is going to settle in" after years of financial turmoil.
In addition, nearly half (46 percent) of those surveyed believe their company outlook will be better in the next six months. That's up six points from the previous quarter and is the highest level ever recorded by the survey.
"The picture is sharpening [for workers]," Rueff says. "Now they see the contrast between industries and see where their company sits.
"We're not in [high definition] yet," he says, "but we're getting there."
Rueff also says 40 percent of companies are restoring health and dental cuts or restoring pay cuts.
"That's great," he says, "because those were the first [items that were cut] during the great recession."
Max Caldwell, managing director of New York-based Towers Watson's data, surveys and technology line of business, says the survey can be read as a sign of "a slowly changing mood."
"People have noticed that, although the company may be doing better, they're seeing companies in a bi-polar mode," he says. The common corporate climate is still probably focused on running lean, he adds, but many workers may be starting to feel like they "sucked it up during the tough times and now [they] expect to be rewarded.
"That's not an entirely unreasonable expectation, but companies need to manage those expectations," he says.