I can appreciate your frustration. Whenever we find out employees who we think do less are actually earning more, it’s easy to get angry. However, our anger at the company for being underpaid is misguided. To be honest, in this situation, we only have ourselves to blame. Here’s why…
Our Business-of-One’s Perceived Value is OUR Responsibility
As full-time employees, each of us is really just a business-of-one who sells our value to one main client, a.k.a. our employer. Thus, it is our job to get the best price for our services. No employer is going to pay more if they don’t have to. So, if we are getting paid less, it’s because we allowed it to happen.
How To Get A Raise If Your Co-Workers Make More Money Than You
Some employees don’t like the negotiation game…and that’s okay. But, the choice to not sell our value comes with accepting that we will always get paid less, and often times, be seen as worth less. (Which, by the way, can also lead to us being seen as the most expendable.) In short, it’s a choice to passively or actively market our businesses-of-one. In my experience, I think the latter is the smarter career option.
STEP 1: Accept you can’t recover lost wages.
Your company has paid you for all the work you’ve done in the past, at the rate you agreed upon. So, there is no chance of going back and getting paid to make up for the fact that others got more. Would you go back and pay a store more money for an item that you got on sale? Of course not, and neither will your employer. It’s time to focus on the future, and how you can earn more from this point forward!
STEP 2: Do your homework.
Visit sites like Salary.com, Payscale.com and Glassdoor.com to get information on the going rates for an individual doing your job with your years of experience and expertise. Print this information out so you can give it to your boss. That way, you will never have to bring up the fact that you found out you were making less than your co-workers.
STEP 3: Set a meeting to discuss your value.
Schedule a time to talk with your boss and make it clear the meeting is going to be a career development discussion. You don’t want to catch your boss off-guard. More importantly, be sure to clearly outline before the meeting how you save and/or make the company enough money to justify an increase in pay. You will need to prove this to your boss. The more evidence you have to support the fact that you will add a lot of value in this fashion is vital. Companies don’t care about what you’ve done, they care about what you can and will do from this point forward. So, make a strong case for the fact that losing you would be costly.
STEP 4: Close the conversation with a clear request.
Once you have made your case, ask your boss what steps you will need to take to earn a specific increase by a specific date. Be reasonable with your request. A 3-month timeframe with targeted goals would be a good start. The key is to leave the meeting feeling 100% clear on what has to happen for you to earn more money.
What if my boss turns me down?
If you boss tells you there is no way you can earn more money, then you know how you are viewed at the organization. At this point, you have two options. First, you can accept it and stay on. If you really love the job, you may not find a better option out there – money isn’t the only factor that goes into job satisfaction.
Or, you can decide that it’s time to move on and find an employer that will pay you what you believe you are worth. Now that you’ve done your homework, you know what the market rate really is and will be better prepared in future job offer negotiations.
In closing, the good news is this: Whether you stay or go, you’ve learned a valuable career lesson with respect to marketing your business-of-one, and any time we learn, we grow!
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