Salary is important to many of us. After all, that’s one of the reasons why we turn up at work everyday!
However, dissatisfaction with one’s salary can lead to feelings of unfairness which may eventually lead to resentment and even burnout.
At various points in our career, we’ve all felt some unhappiness over what we are currently being paid. It may lead us to feel we are being unfairly remunerated which could lead to resentment, frustration and even make us leave for ‘greener pastures’.
Before you take any action, you need to understand your frustration a little better, so read on!
From our experience, salary unhappiness could be caused by any (or all) of three different causes.
1. You feel you are not being paid enough for the work you are doing.
Perhaps the work you do is very complicated but your boss thinks it is straightforward and simple, so he has been reluctant to give you fair increments over the past few years. This is called Wage-Stagnation and is a common ‘penalty’ meted out on loyal employees who remain in the same company for many years.
Or maybe you just discovered that others doing similar work outside your company are paid more than you.
If you feel that you could be better paid elsewhere, here are some ideas for you to consider
a. Do your research.
Ask your headhunter whether your current salary is correctly benchmarked to the market for similar roles. You can also try going for job interviews at other companies to see if they offer a better package than what you are getting now.
b. Speak to your HR or Boss.
Share your thoughts about your current salary situation with him and ask whether (or when) there could be a salary review for you.
Some people have even been bold enough to mention that they were approached by headhunters (or had spoken to a peer) and was told their market value is much higher at other companies, however, do this cautiously as it might not be taken well.
c. Consider alternatives.
If HR and/or your boss do not seem like they are able or willing to accommodate, then you might want to consider embarking on a job search for a better paying role elsewhere.
But before you move on to ‘greener pastures’, you need to ask yourself, is it really better elsewhere? Sometimes, the adage of ‘Better the Devil you know, than the Devil you don’t” holds true.
Is the salary better because it’s a more difficult role in a more challenging environment? Do make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
2. You feel you are given too much work for the pay-grade you are at.
Sometimes, unhappiness with money isn’t because of low or insufficient salary, but because of overwork, overload, or unrealistic expectations.
Some executives feel they are sufficiently paid but have been given unachievable targets or have been asked to ‘double-hat’ and do two jobs at one time.
We suggest you have a sincere conversation with your boss or HR about the current situation. Explain to them that the current situation may not be sustainable and propose either an increase in salary to compensate for the enlarged portfolio, or perhaps getting someone else to take over certain tasks and responsibilities.
Develop your strategy well before having such a conversation as you will need to back your position with facts and figures.
3. You feel you’re not being paid as much as your peers.
Sometimes, salary dissatisfaction arises because people look at their peers, former classmates or colleagues and feel these people are paid better. This could either be based on fact or perception, and such ‘salary-envy’ can lead to significant career unhappiness.
Pause and ask yourself – are these observations based on solid facts or anecdotal data? If you do know that others are being paid better, then find out why. Is it because they’re better qualified, have better skills, or are in companies that pay better?
Make the necessary moves to bridge any gaps, improve skills, or apply to better-paying jobs.
We know of a Director who thought he was underpaid when she saw her peer wearing expensive watches. However, what she didn’t realise was that he came from a wealthy family that sold and distributed classic timepieces and those watches were on loan.
Before jumping to conclusions, find out more about what the role pays, what the market rates are, and how you can improve your current package.