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How do I compare my salary with co-workers’ salaries?

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Question: “I have been in the same department for several years and would like to be sure that my salary is competitive with that of my colleagues who have recently joined the company.  These colleagues are in my department and have the same title as I do.  Any advice on a procedure for this? “ —  Emma

Comments

That topic will get you fired. Never approach or ask another co-worker their salary or benefits. No one appreciates to be asked that and the company will let you go. My suggestion is to do research like at salary.com where you can put your job description, location etc and get a detailed range of salary and benefits. I use that and it gives me pretty accurate results.

Discussion of salary is taboo and could get you fired! I agree with Jocelyn that you should do some research specific to your area. There are several good sites with salary.com leading the pack.

I would not advise trying to compare your salary with that of your co-workers, for this always leads to friction and I’m sure your employee manual has listed reprimands for such actions. There are many internet sites that will give you an idea of what your salary should be based on your title, education, cost of living in your city, etc. The question should not be what others in your office are making, but what believe you are worth based on your skills and job performance. Keep the subject away from the office to save yourself (and your co-workers) a lot of stress.

Company Policy: Effective Immediately
Dress Code:
It is advised that you come to work dressed according to your salary. If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci bag, we assume you are doing well financially and therefore do not need a raise. If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better, so that you buy nicer clothes, and therefore you do not need a raise. If you dress just right, you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need a raise.

I work for a government office. If we need to compare salaires we contact other like agencies and also ask personnel for a listing of job titles and salary schdules.

If you are concerned your new co-workers are making more than you, I would simply speak with your direct supervisor/manager. I personally have a great working relationship with my manager and would feel free to speak with him in regards to my salary. If you are hesitant to speak with your manager, try your HR department. It is that simple.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov provides a wealth of information on jobs and salaries broken down by region or state. This will help you determine if you are being fairly compensated based on the data for your region/state. This website also defines typical tasks performed by each type of position. If everyone in your office has the same title, but you have considerably more experience and more complex duties, your boss may consider changing your job title if you can prove that you meet the qualifications for a higher level position.

The worst thing you could ever do is find out what others in your position or a similar position make! It is important to know what others in your field make to determine if your rate is comparable. Most companies do keep up with that. If you've been on a job for a while, take some classes. Improving processes will make you more valuable to your employer. I recall many years ago learning what my boss made. What a difference it made to me. I'd worked for him for over 15 years. I couldn't believe I was being paid 1/4 of his salary and doing a lot of his work at that time! My feelings towards him were never the same (some respect was lost) and I was never that happy with my job after that.

I would recommend researching similar jobs to yours in your local newspaper and note what they are paying. You can't compare your salary to your coworkers as you were hired at different times in different circumstances (economy, company performance, market range for your position, etc.). They may also have negotiated a higher salary based on their experience/qualifications/company need at the time. Also check your company handbook on compensation policies as they may have a policy to review your salary range periodically to make sure it compares to the market.

I agree with other postings do NOT discuss salary with your co-workers. While not illegal to do so it is often against company policy and can cause problems with your work relationships. It is none of your business what your co-workers make.

I would recommend salary.com, I have used this myself and found it very helpful. Also check out job postings (not at the office of course) and see what other companies are offering for positions matching your description.

If you feel you are being under paid I would address that with your manager regardless of what you find out; only you know how much work you do and your exact situation.

I agree with everyone else to not discuss with others in your office regarding salaries.

I will share that I once was on an interview team to hire another executive assistant and during the process I found out that the offer for the new person was going to be near or at my current salary.

I waited for an appropriate time to discuss with my executive. I expressed my dismay that we would be hiring someone new to the company with a salary comparable to mine when I was a senior and tenured assistant. He listened to my concerns and later gave me an equity adjustment that gave me a significant raise. I was pleasantly surprised. There can be a pay-off for speaking your mind. However I wouldn't suggest doing so when you are upset or you know your executive is rushed. Gather your information, be in the right frame of mind and pick the right time to discuss.

Good luck!

While it is not generally a good idea to discuss salary with your co-workers, it is a protected activity (NLRB) to discuss wages, company conditions, etc.

If a person were fired for just discussing salary, they would have a nice lawsuit in their hands.

Follow this link to the U.S. Department of Labor website and you can research the salary range of any job on a national level, state, and even region. http://www.bls.gov/OES/

I work in Human Resources and do payroll for the entire company, including executives. Take my advice when I say you do NOT want to know what your colleages are making! It is likely to result in resentment and anger, because you will constantly be comparing your workload and expertise to theirs and will always be able to find a reason why it is "just not fair". Take the advice above and do your research online, or by calling local companies to get salary ranges. If you are under the minimum then it is time to talk to your boss and you will be able to present factual data about the market and not look like someone trying to be petty or cause trouble within the department.

I work in Human Resources and do payroll for the entire company, including executives. Take my advice when I say you do NOT want to know what your colleages are making! It is likely to result in resentment and anger, because you will constantly be comparing your workload and expertise to theirs and will always be able to find a reason why it is "just not fair". Take the advice above and do your research online, or by calling local companies to get salary ranges. If you are under the minimum then it is time to talk to your boss and you will be able to present factual data about the market and not look like someone trying to be petty or cause trouble within the department.

And what if you are the one to do payroll & you see that others are making more than you are? Management is aware of this fact also.....suggestions?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John May 1, 2012 at 10:45 am

I emphatically disagree with the idea that we should not discuss our salaries with our coworkers. Let’s face it – the only reason companies want salaries to be a big secret is that people with power in companies take enormous amounts of money for themselves, then unfairly distribute the rest of the salary pool to the rest of the employees, based on very arbitrary reasons (i.e. not directly related to performance or value that one brings to the company).

So, talk openly about salaries in your company. Once everyone knows everyone else’s salaries, the people in power will become uncomfortable and feel compelled to even the playing field a bit. Remember, keeping salaries a secret is in the best interest of the few in power, NOT in the best interest of most employees. Sure, it will be upsetting to find out your coworkers are making much more/less than you, but that needs to be openly discussed before change can be made to create new policies that set salaries more evenly, based on more objective standards.

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