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Same crap, different employer. What am I doing wrong?

(23 Posts)
motherhennypenny Fri 28-Dec-12 14:56:03


Name changed since I don't want to risk being outed too easily. I'll try to keep this brief.

At my previous employer, I left after a few years of service because I was being paid at close-to my original graduate salary despite taking on some key (high profile, high value) responsibilities over the years. I'm talking running client accounts, when my job title/salary suggested I was little more than a new graduate role. When pressing for pay raises to reflect my actual job responsibilities, rather than job title, I was told that I was topped out on the pay grade, and - unofficially - the fact was that it was dead man's shoes. I'd probably get a pay grade bump if my line manager retired at the planned time/etc. and that's about it. So they were happy for me to take on a raft of new duties, and go above and beyond my basic job duties, but after a year I got sick of it (phrases such as "we stick to the salary bandings here" when I requested a higher salary at review time, armed with job advert printouts to prove the market rate for my actual job tasks) and looked elsewhere. It was a shame, because I liked working there, but the salary just didn't reflect the huge amount of extra stuff I'd been running, volunteering for, etc. They weren't even willing to give an extra few days of annual leave instead. Which was strange, because I got nothing but glowing reviews, and my manager seemed genuinely grateful / valued my work, and had approved the extra duties I'd suggested - I hadn't been cutting him out or anything. He seemed genuinely upset when I left.

(And in case I sound up myself, I noticed that six months after, they advertised my exact job (the core duties plus the extra workload I'd been doing) with a totally different, much more senior job title. I'm guessing the salary would have been at least around £10k - £15k more to attract applicants as a result. sad)

So. I started in a new job 14 months ago, in a very large company. I was hired in a professional role for which I wasn't technically qualified, but have qualified in since. So it was a bit of a risk hiring me, and my salary reflected that. Let's say the established market rate for this role is easily 35k-50k - I was hired on 29k.

In that time, I've helped to build up a team (new office of a national company opened, I was the second hire - I've trained the 8 others who've joined since, and I've been line managing 2 of them for a few months now) and acted as the 2nd in command for the manager. I'm the "go to" person when she's not in office/unavailable. In August, I received the highest employee review ranking at my 1 yr review ("significantly exceeding expectations"). My manager is "exceptionally happy" with my output.

However, I'm getting a raise of 2.5%. That's well below market rate even if I was just performing as expected. And a colleague that's on a performance review plan appears to have got the same, judging by a comment or two she's made in confidence. Heck, it's not even in line with inflation!

I feel like I've jumped ship in order to move to an organisation that might actually value my "goes above and beyond" work ethic (and have the capability to, as a large, national employer), and here I am in the same position as before. Doing loads more than my official job role, and being paid very poorly for it.

I don't know whether to:

1) Move on again, and in my next role just do the bare minimum (as my naive understanding of work hard and get rewarded just isn't doing me any favours).

2) Stick it out and hope that my next year's review is better? Maybe request a review in 3 months time or something?

3) Something else?

I feel that it's me that's made mistakes in the way I've handled work - I should have been smarter than to fall for this a second time! sad

I'm seen as very eager and very capable - "a safe pair of hands" - maybe too eager? Happy to take on extra responsibilities, but now (for the second time) I just feel like I'm having the piss taken out of me. My partner is extremely supportive (he works part time to care for DC, and is, and always has been, my rock), but since he's only ever worked NMW jobs (he works in Tesco on the tills), he doesn't have much advice on how to handle these salary/office problems I have. And I feel like I'm handling things badly for the second time around.

I suppose what I'm really asking is: does anyone have any tips on how to progress in companies, with regard to taking on extra responsibilities, whilst ensuring you get fairly rewarded for doing it?

FivesGoldNorks Fri 28-Dec-12 15:01:18

difficult one and tbh I have no idea. Sounds like you've done all the right things.
I wonder what they'd have done if you'd reapplied for your original role

LordEmsworth Fri 28-Dec-12 15:03:27

Have you actually asked for more money, or are you waiting for them to offer it to you? If you haven't then you should - ask for a separate meeting or do it at your review, with a clear rationale of why they should pay you more (i.e. industry benchmarking plus evidence that you're over-performing in the role).

If they say no - then worry about what next...

LordEmsworth Fri 28-Dec-12 15:04:46

Oh - a key point in your "business case" should be the qualification, i.e. they have a an experienced and qualified person where previously they used to "only" have an experienced one - and so the role should pay more accordingly

FivesGoldNorks Fri 28-Dec-12 15:04:55

good point, sounds like the OP secifically asked in her last job, not sure about this one

motherhennypenny Fri 28-Dec-12 15:08:57

Sorry - yes - after the August review where I was "exceeding expectations" I requested a 3 months review. That happened in the first week of December, where I was told that there was a finite pot for salary increases and that there wasn't any flexibility there. my manager is very very happy with my progress and did agree that my duties do not get reflected in my pay.

that's when she called me the "safe pair of hands".

My company is doing well, though - not a recession-hit industry, for the record.

Still.... I came out of the meeting with a vague "no" and now I'm not sure whether to go back into work on the 14th and request another quarterly review.

The crux of the problem is that I've no idea what to do if they just turn around and say the same thing again then sad

noddyholder Fri 28-Dec-12 15:13:16

My sister was in this situation and beforenxmas secured the salary she should have been on in order to stay. Her boss knew she had revolutionised the place and didn,t want to lose her. Also while doing an audit she saw that the previous person in her job was on 10k more!

LordEmsworth Fri 28-Dec-12 15:29:58

Ah, I see. I do have every sympathy as I also work somewhere where pay grades are stuck to, so the only route to a pay increase is promotion - is that a possibility for you, i.e. ask them to benchmark your actual role (that you actually do now, not what it was 14 months ago) to the market, and demonstrate that it should be a higher grade?

(Incidentally at our place, "exceeding expectations" = 1/2% increase, anything less = no increase at all - so 2.5% sounds good to me!)

If they have said there's no flexibility now - and this is the company policy - then I wouldn't upset myself by asking after another 3 months. I would though be looking to re-write my CV, updating it with everything you've said above, with a view to looking for a new job at the higher grade (not at the same level you already are) after 18 or so months in your current role.

My experience is that you always get a bigger pay rise moving companies than within a company - unless of course your current company is so keen to keep you that they counter-offer (it has happened to me in the past, although I was annoyed it took that much so left anyway!)

GrendelsMum Fri 28-Dec-12 17:12:31

I think you just need to keep looking for new and more demanding jobs and get a significant rise each time you move company - apparently that's one of the reasons men earn higher salaries than women.

slev Fri 28-Dec-12 18:58:10

DH was in your position (qualified within the company but no payrise to reflect it). In the end he got told them he would leave if they didn't increase his salary to market rate (and had this as back up). They didn't, he got another offer from elsewhere at a lot more money and when he handed in his notice, his employer came back with a counter offer of more than he'd originally asked for - apparently they didn't think he was serious about moving.

So maybe it's worth the threat if you think you might follow it through? But I agree that I've always found the bigger payrises to come from moving companies - depends if you want the money enough to risk the unknown.

motherhennypenny Fri 28-Dec-12 19:23:51

Really really appreciate all the advice here. It's made me feel a bit happier, in a funny kind of way, knowing that it seems a fairly common scenario to find yourself in - I've just been kicking myself since August that although I seem to be doing all the right things, all it ever translates into is a verbal acknowledgement that I'm a valued employee - a pat on the head, basically, without any actual pay raise to reflect the level both parties agree I'm working at.

Noddy - what did your sister do to improve the situation?

From the additional advice here (by slev and GrendelsMum and LordEmsworth), it seems my best bet is to stick it out another few months whilst prepping my CV for other offers sad which is a real shame as I'd rather stay here (I just want to not have the piss taken out of me too though).

I'd also feel a bit... strange... attending interviews and getting another job offer to find out if work would then take me seriously. I suspect they probably would.

But it's a small city that I live in, and an even smaller industry... if another company made me a job offer, i delay to prompt a discussion at work... and then end up staying... I fear that declining would count against me at the other employer (faffing them around) and here too (having to threaten to resign to prompt a market rate increase doesn't do a lot for morale).

Or is this a fairly common tactic? I just wouldn't be comfortable doing it, if I'm being honest. I'd rather just decide to leave this place, and as LordEmsworth said, look to move "rank" by a company move. Rather than another sideways move.

Sigh. I wish companies would just reward hard work with fair pay! sad

LordEmsworth Fri 28-Dec-12 20:51:25

I think it's a very common issue, as you say...

You could start softly with a personal development plan; if your company's a big-ish one then it presumably welcomes these? If not then it's about where you want to get to and how you're going to get there, and what you need from the company to do this.

E.g. in 3 years' time I want my manager's job, and I am going to get there by improving my own line management skills (so need more delegation of this from my manager), to get more exposure to managers more senior than my manager (so need more opportunities to work on projects which do this), and realise that I need to improve my view of the bigger picture (so will spend time in other parts of the business e.g. a day shadowing Finance, or regular meetings with Marketing).

Having a plan shows you have an aim and ambition, and that you are serious, without actually "threatening" to leave. It also demonstrates that you aren't just in it for the money - I know you're not, but I bet they think they are paying you "fairly", if you're prepared to do the job so well without leaving then why would they worry!

And, if you haven't already - make sure your manager's managers know who you are, and other senior managers in other areas know who you are and how valuable you are to the business, so that (if needed) it doesn't come down to your manager arguing your case. Unfortunately it's definitely who you know, in my experience...

PebblePots Fri 28-Dec-12 21:25:26

It's because they already have you there doing the job & taking on more responsibility for free, so all good from their point of view. The only time the employee has the negotiating power is when applying for a new job & they want to get you.

All you can do is apply for different jobs & either move or hope they counter-offer.

slev Sat 29-Dec-12 00:39:59

Quick disclaimer - I'm giving you advice I've ignored myself so I completely get where you're coming from!

I think you have to decide what you want from your job - is it money, recognition, satisfaction, flexibility etc.?

I could get about £15k from moving jobs, possibly more. But to get that, I'd potentially lose my day per week from home, my ability to pick my son up from pre-school every day and the fact I get very good performance ratings and lots of exciting (albeit stressful) projects as a result.

I regularly question whether I should move, but it always comes down to what I might be losing. I'm lucky, while the extra money would obviously be great, we can afford our current lifestyle as it is, so it's not all about the money.

I suppose all I'm saying is think about what matters most. You have the recognition. From the sound of it you're getting the opportunities. That may not be enough, in which case moving may be the best option. But sometimes it's thinking about what you might lose and whether it's worth that risk.

Sorry, probably not much help - but just trying to articulate the struggle I have every time work annoys me!

DolomitesDonkey Sat 29-Dec-12 08:18:27

My company has 30 billion in cash reserves, however they are notorious for not rewarding their staff.

In my review this month I was told I was getting a discretionary raise- below inflation because of my low pay band

My manager told me he'd had to fight to get it and that people getting "exceeds expectations" in high pay scales were not getting a raise at all. He agrees with me that its bullshit not to reward those who've done we'll.

You can't fight a poisonous company culture like that, you need out. Hence I've started my own business.

Fwiw an old manager took one colleague's case all the way to the 41 million a year earning CEO in California and was told to do one. The same CEO caught stealing... sad

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 29-Dec-12 09:04:52

OP plenty of companies are not giving pay rises at all in the current climate, irrelevant of performance, and below inflation pay rises are not as "insulting" as they might have been once. I do think a promotion of some kind is the most likely way for you to get a significant rise (what % do you want?) or you could discuss a bonus scheme for your outperformance (this is easier for employers, especially if self funding ie you get a percentage of all profit over target in your area)

If you'renot happy that the amount of work you do brings you enough reward, it sounds like it is open to you to do less work - that's an alternative.

WillieWagglingRoundTheXmasTree Sat 29-Dec-12 09:21:02

Op I am in the same position as you were in your previous job and am now applying for other things. It's so hard to push against that very senior management who have no idea who you are and completely make a mockery of the whole 'valuing our people' bullshit companies like to put across. I'm surprising myself by being actually very ambitious and applying for things where I don't have the full skillset yet, but I know I could learn quickly and really have nothing to lose in applying

I would be looking around in your position, and definitely make use of any bargaining power you might get as a result.

nextphase Sat 29-Dec-12 10:00:18

I take the line that you need to have been doing the job for over a year to get the promotion to the level you've been working at.
The colleague who fought the system got to the same pay grade as me about 18 months earlier than me by fighting (a couple of years younger), but got a bad reputation for it.

I'd try for promotion rather than pay increase. Does the company have a job description? Can you find any descriptions (adverts are good for this) of people on higher grades, and take any of the responsibilities, in company speak that you do, and write your actual job description. Get your boss to agree, and then ask for it to be graded?

But, I wouldn't kick up to much about it, and if you don't get the response you want, look else where. If your really valued, might they increase your pay if you go to them with a job offer in hand and negotiate with them?

Want2bSupermum Sun 30-Dec-12 05:07:39

To get my salary up when I first graduated I sat down with my boss and explained that I wasn't making ends meet so needed to focus on developing my career with the company so I could earn more.

It was a nice way to to put it bluntly that you NEED a pay increase. What I would say is 'I was hired into this position without being qualified and have since qualified. I can't thank you enough for giving me the opportunity but now I am qualified what responsibilities do I need to take on for me to earn a pay increase?'

This puts them on the spot in a nice way. If they say that there isn't anything for you to do then start looking for a new job. If they start talking about developing your career follow what they set out for you and get it in writing that if you accomplish the goals set you will get a pay raise of GBPx and title Y. I did this with an old boss and was able to get pay increases every six months when goals were set on an annual basis. It pissed HR off but my manager didn't give a darn as my salary and bonus came from a different pool than his.

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 05:16:02

Start gathering emails, saying how great you are, get linked recommendations etc. I've worked in recruitment for 15 years and the only way you ever really get what you are worth is by moving company. I've known people get 40% payrises and then their current bosses try to match it (never accept a counter offer btw).

williaminajetfighter Sun 30-Dec-12 22:49:47

I agree with the other posters. I this age of austerity companies are particularly tough when it comes to pay increases even if you're doing a good job. Sometimes they just can't afford it. Last year my pay increase was £150 and that's on a 48k pa salary. Sucks.

I also think the issue of reward and retention depends on where you are. When I worked in both Toronto and London, where there was a bigger pool of potential employers, there was a lot more concern about rewarding and not losing staff. In Scotland, on the other hand, there are less job opportunities and employers seem to have an attitude that staff should be grateful to have a job. At my last role when I mentioned retention issues in the managerial team they laughed and one of them said 'if staff don't like it they can get on their bike...'. Really.

Maybe you need to move somewhere bigger?

higgle Wed 02-Jan-13 15:09:38

This has happened to me in the past. In one job I went there because I felt I was worth £x and the fllowing year I didn't get a pay rise because they said they had had to pay over the odds to get me. When I changed career and came to my present employer it was suggested I would get a substantial increase after 3 months, but nothing happened. The following year I was offered a more senior post that I needed to qualify for.They suggested I be paid the same as the previous post holder - les £5k until I qualified. I said in view of the previous promise I must have the full salary, which they then gave me.

LadyPenelope Wed 02-Jan-13 15:54:01

I don't think all is lost in your current company. I think you need to work out what it is that you want and then clearly ask for it and ask for your manager(and other sponsors and supporters) help to get it. You are upset about the size of the % raise, but its not clear what you really want. Is money your priority right now, recognition , working your way to a particular job over time? Being clear about what you want will help you communicate clearly about what you are looking for as well. It will also help you decide what to do next if they can't meet your needs.

One of my best managers and mentors once gave me sound advice when I was in a similar position many years ago in a big company. He advised me not to get too hung up on that year. That sometimes I would be ahead and sometimes behind. He was asking me to focus on the bigger picture which at the time i thought was unfair because i wanted a bonus. I listened to him and got back to doing a great job with a smile on my face. Within 18 months I was promoted twice. It's a strange thing but that part of my career was the turning point for my career and getting the job I do now and love depends to a large extent on the skills and experience I got then. I was underpaid and overworked and at times under recognised then, but it paid off in the long run.

In big companies, people watch you also in adversity - how do you handle personal setbacks and deal with company policies etc. I would continue putting in extra effort and taking on projects ( assuming this is what you want). You sound really talented and motivated and I bet your manager will want to keep you and support you.

Perhaps look for development programmes, in the company assignments to projects etc which will lead to promotion internally or qualify you for next level of job if you end up leaving. In the meantime, tell them what you want and ask them what they think is achievable and how you can get there.

It may be that they truly can't give more than 2.5% (HR often monitor these policies strictly with no flexibility) but perhaps you can argue your role has changed dramatically and ask them to consider giving you an adjustment or a special lump sum bonus?

I would caution against threatening to leave. Instead tell them what you want. If they can't help you get there, then find another company and make the move. If they come back with a better offer you can assess options - But not ideal - you can burn bridges. Unlikely they would discuss opportunity with you again.

Good luck. Most important is figure out what you really want .

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