Finding out you have been paid less than your peers or new team members, despite loyalty over the years can be a real kick in the teeth and will undoubtedly trigger negative emotions. We all know that life can be unfair but to find out your hard work and ability has been taken for granted just because you are loyal can be hard to get over. Money is a highly emotive subject and a validation of perceived worth, taking advantage can dent a person’s pride, and in a competitive world where good people are sought after it can lead to resignation.
The new kid on the block is being paid the same or more than you despite your years’ experience, you feel undervalued and probably taken for granted. Being loyal and ‘staying put’ – building your knowledge of a business over time and being a stalwart employee can, unfortunately, go against you when it comes to ‘pay review’ time. Maybe you have just accepted an offer and not been brave enough to negotiate for fear of giving the ‘wrong impression’. You find yourself in a situation where you must wait up to a year for your performance/salary review, not the best foot to start off on with your new employer, especially when they are completely unaware. You pass your exams / gain more responsibility, but your pay does not reflect this.
Testing the water
You may well reach out to your recruitment network to satisfy your curiosity of what you are worth on the open market. Before you know it, you are in interview processes and going down a path you feel you cannot turn back on. Those negative emotions are now being replaced with the reality that by moving on you will get paid more and everyone you speak to is reinforcing this message. 2 / 3 interviews later and you are faced with a flattering offer to work for a competitor in a similar role with a 20% pay increase. How did that happen?
How utterly frustrating to lose a team member who has shown loyalty to you and the business for a higher salary elsewhere. Often losing a key person, the glue holding the team together can have a ‘domino’ effect with further resignations. I have seen this many times when asking candidates why they moved on from certain roles, a tinge of sadness in some cases when looking back, the move they made was short lived and could have been prevented. It is apparent if the clocks could be turned back things would have been dealt with differently.
The cost of losing a key person can sometimes spread wider than the individual, it can impact other members of the team. And of course, the likely hood is you will have to pay a higher base salary to secure the new person who may be as skilled but will have that dreaded ‘learning curve’ to overcome which will require your time and support.
Personally, I feel as the employee you owe it to your manager, team, and business to be brave enough to have a sensible and thought through conversation about pay related grievances. That way everyone involved is aware of the situation and can start to explore solutions or manage expectations accordingly. If the answer you get is not what you were hoping for at least you know you tried and above all, you were honest about the situation. Responsibility also clearly lies with the employer to look after their team and ensure that salaries are in line, as much as possible with market rates to avoid complacency setting in.
Forewarned is forearmed
As a manager try to mitigate nasty surprises – create an open culture where your team can talk to you about their salary expectations. Once someone has resigned it is often too late to turn back, they will have gone through weeks of processes and emotional decisions before asking you for 5 minutes to have that dreaded resignation conversation. Even if you do manage to claw it back, the relationship is often damaged by this point and is short lived. Realistically it’s not healthy and not always possible to give pay rises just to keep people from leaving and this is not always the right solution either, however by encouraging open relationships with your team you can at least be more aware of how people feel and as a result, have more sensible conversations before things get out of hand.
Businesses that have published pay grades and bandings have more transparency as to what people are being paid internally, although there is obviously quite a wide range on some bandings. The negative is that these businesses will find it harder to flex and bend the pay range to retain the right people particularly those that get stuck at the top of the banding with no option but to move externally. The more rigid pay structure can present challenges if out of kilter with the market, people leave and are replaced invariably with someone less qualified, possibly for more money.
Unfortunately, it is widely accepted that staying with a company too long can sometimes result in you falling behind on your market worth and the only way to keep moving on in monetary gain is to move companies. Value the people you have and make sure they are being paid their fair value in the market. People will not stay in a role just for the money however the trigger that leads to their resignation may be money related