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How should an admin team bring a serious issue to supervisors?

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Question: "A situation has arisen in our office involving a lack of raises for admins going back three years, while other departments get steady increases. We believe that only the whole admin team presenting our grievance at once will work to get a change made, because individual complaints just haven't had any impact. I'm looking for guidance on the best way to present a 'unified front' when an issue needs to be addressed this way. Should our concerns be in writing? Should one of us act as the leader who presents them?" - Daphne, Conference Center Assistant

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Marla February 15, 2016 at 7:19 am

Not so much a raise situation, but last year I and another admin at my location received promotions due to our bringing it up. I had first noticed that other admins who previously had our title/salary grade had been promoted one or two levels above us….and I had trained all of them on various aspects of their jobs in the past….several of the things they now do are a direct result of my training them. I talked to another admin at my location who’d been stuck at our level for YEARS and does the same types of things as I do and the others do. So I talked to my supervisor, and she talked to hers, and our supervisors went to bat for us. H.R. had not been aware that the other admins at the other locations had received these promotions. Our supervisors basically had to justify the promotions with H.R. by giving them a list of what all we do and the value we add to our departments. It took several months, but we both got promotions 2 levels above where we had been, which raised our pay grades as well as our annual bonus amounts. If you all have already approached your individual supervisors about this with no result, I would suggest what others have….put it in writing in a communication with your H.R. rep with everyone’s signatures and request a meeting. Do your research and justify why you deserve a raise. Hopefully a united front will make a difference!

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Lee February 12, 2016 at 10:18 am

Compensation usually includes some component of perceived value to the organization. Perhaps documenting the tasks you take off your executives’ plates so they can focus on their core goals would better align your compensation to the value you provide.

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Reasa Falgoust February 12, 2016 at 7:22 am

I must agree with a united front, spokesperson and also research in your area for the salary ranges for Administrative Professionals. I would also include a common job description, along with a detailed description of exactly what each person does. Compare the two descriptions. Do an analysis on the difference. Let the audience you assemble see in writing what it is that makes everyone deserve at least a cost of living raise. I had not had an increase in pay in 5 years, while all other areas of my company did. I used this approach and am slowly being increased for my value and worth. Soft skills are in high demand. That is your Trojan Horse. Use it.

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Tina Piety February 11, 2016 at 6:48 pm

I believe you have a spokesperson; prepare a request in writing; and request a meeting to discuss it. Do not raise the fact that others have received wages (it sounds too much like whining). Instead, do some research of what Admins in your area (geographically and industry) are receiving for salaries. Check national trends as well (Office Team says salaries are going up). Supervisors & HR are more likely to listen to you if you can show others who have the same type of job are making more than you do.

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Becky February 11, 2016 at 6:00 pm

I agree that it might be better to put the grievance in writing with all signing, requesting a meeting on a specific date/time. This would avoid defensiveness from the ambush. I’m not so sure there would be issues around employees discussing wages. If memory serves, 2014 Obama made it illegal to sanction such activities. However there may be finer points I am not remembering-worth checking before hand. I think there is strength in numbers! Good luck!

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Sandra Cooper February 11, 2016 at 4:37 pm

I think that putting the concerns in writing is a good first step to be followed up with a meeting to address them. Having a main spokesperson is a good idea although everyone must agree on this.

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Elizabeth February 11, 2016 at 4:26 pm

I agree with comments above, but would caution you against revealing that you know what others have or have not received regarding raises. Many companies have policies that forbid discussing such details amongst employees with grounds for discipline. Obviously, if your role has you involved in payroll or HR, this information may be unavoidable.

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Karen February 11, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Great advice from Mark and Melanie. I would add that it might be a good idea for the admins to do a bit of their own market research to see what comparable companies are paying their admins for similar jobs. If their salaries are higher, that strengthens your argument going in. If not, at least you won’t be blindsided if management knows this and brings it up. You might be able to prepare a counter-argument for why you should get a raise anyway, given others have received one and your efforts contributed to the company’s success.

Perhaps your company is more successful than comparable companies, or the rest of the staff enjoys better salaries than they do. Try to have as much knowledge of the industry-wide standard in your region so you know what you are dealing with and can negotiate effectively.

I am not sure I would go the HR route, rather than the manager who has the power to make it happen. HR is there for management, not the employee. Although they may be helpful and the nicest people in the world, the company pays their salary and that is who they are hired to protect.

The manager is the one you need to convince and he or she will then meet with HR about it.

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Lisa February 11, 2016 at 4:13 pm

While I believe a “united front” can be good in some instances, there is a fine line between that and feeling “ambushed” for all of us.
Have you checked in with your HR person/department on this subject? I would suggest your team get together and brainstorm all the great things you have accomplished in the last few years. Be specific. Then, set up a meeting with your HR person (just a key representative or two of your team) and let them know what your group is wanting to accomplish and show them the list. Ask for their assistance in how best to move forward. Your HR person/department should be able to guide you on next steps and possibly help facilitate a meeting for all of you to attend with the manager or the HR person may sit down with the manager and see what can be done.
Be careful to not start your conversation with other departments got a raise why are we not? There could be a very good reason that you are not aware of. Keep it positive. This is very important in negotiating for a raise. Show them how valuable you all are to the success of the organization. I would also ask what should you all be doing to be able to receive the raise going forward. Did other departments not get a raise too? Or was it just your department? There might be a goal that is misunderstood or not communicated that your team should be meeting maybe? Just thoughts to ponder. Good luck!

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Melanie February 11, 2016 at 4:01 pm

I agree with Mark, but would add, why you the admins need a raise. Add in the accomplishments of the groups as well as individuals. A lot of companies view support staff as overhead and don’t want to spend money on that. So show your value!

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Mark February 11, 2016 at 12:57 pm

My first suggestion in complaint scenarios is for individuals to bring problems up individually, rather than an entire group of people, but it sounds like you did that already. What I personally would do is send a polite, yet firm, e-mail to the person who you would meet with, and spell out the concerns in the e-mail. It should end with a request for an in-person meeting with the receiver of the e-mail and as many admins as can make it to the meeting. It should be signed (have the names at the bottom) of ALL the admins who agree this needs to be addressed so it is understood that many people feel this way, not just one. My reasoning for sending the e-mail first, as opposed to just walking in on the person, is that it gives them time to do a little research on the issue instead of their being blind-sided by it. Plus, an e-mail establishes a paper trail (be sure to save it) in case, in a worst case scenario, legal action eventually comes into play.

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