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Your Office Coach

Raising the pay issue with the boss

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Question:  “In our company, employees never receive raises. We only get quarterly bonuses for meeting specific goals. Although the CEO says "we couldn't do it without you," he makes no effort to improve our salaries. This job provides valuable experience in a profession that I love, so I hate to think about leaving. I really enjoy my work, my co-workers and the relaxed environment. On the other hand, my pay is still very low after two years. Any advice?” — Worth More

Marie’s Answer:  Did you know about this pay structure when you accepted the job?  If not, make a mental note to ask more compensation questions during your next job search.  In the meantime, here are some points to consider:

•    Salary levels are determined largely by supply and demand, so current economic conditions have created a buyer's market for many employers.  In highly desirable occupations, entry-level employees may accept a very low salary just to get in the door.

•    If your company begins to have difficulty recruiting or retaining qualified people, better pay could become a higher priority.  To raise awareness, you might gather a group to talk with the HR manager about the challenges posed by this compensation strategy.

•    Since this job is enhancing your professional credentials, try to view it as a stepping stone.  Your experience should soon qualify you for better positions elsewhere. If you have exceptional ability, eventually your earnings will match your talents.

•    Meanwhile, as you clip coupons and forgo vacations, be thankful every day that you love your work, your colleagues and the company culture.  Many better-paid people would gladly trade places with you.

For tips on discussing pay with your boss, see How to Ask for a Raise

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mohan M Prasad March 7, 2010 at 9:43 am

Well, the good news is that you are enjoying the assignment and find it value adding professionally and more than these , the social environment at work is quite conducive.

I must say you are a lucky person.

Today , globally , the organisations are moving from a fixed pay structure to a performance leveraged variable pay plan and from your brief it seems that the company wants to freeze their fixed carrying cost and use the quarterly bonuses as a compensating component in their pay structure.

May be with the turnaround in the economy happening around the company may soon review the salary to align themselves with the market and so also neutralise the escalated cost of various benefits attached to the salary structure .

Not a bad idea at all to have a chat with your CEO , the next time when he says those encouraging words. This will give you a sense of the organisation thinking ;same time he will also benefit out of the feedback from you – employee expectations .

Once the revision happens you can have the cake and eat it too.

Honestly this should not bother too much someone like you who is doing well enjoying oneself and earning quarter over quarter bonuses .

Look at what you receive never mind what the pay is !!!

All the best

Mohan M Prasad


gohughes March 5, 2010 at 10:27 am

I understand your dilema and I am not down playing it but with the economy the way it is now just having a job is a perk and having a job that you like is a big perk. When you add your quarterly bonus to your income does it bring you up to where you think you should be? Do you have a benefit package that is substantial? An hourly rate is not necessarily the bottom line. As I get older I look at what it would cost me if I had to purchase my own health, short & long term disability, and life insurance or what not having a 401K or profit sharing would do to my future. The value of my benefit package far outweighs my salary. Gather all the experince you can and use this as a stepping stone to move on when the time is right and remember to find things like this before you accept the next job offer.


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