Talent Experts - I feel I’m underpaid. What should I do?
Georgina Collins, Interbrand's Executive Director, HR – EMEA & LatAm, chatted with our Founding Partner David Love. Read Georgina's advice around a thorny career issue.
At some point in your career, unless you are very lucky, you are likely to question your salary level and whether it continues to be appropriate for what you do.
In today’s world, there are many sources of information which can give you an idea of salaries for roles – surveys, recruiters, job adverts, internal salary bands to name a few [You can find The Great & The Good's salary survey for Account Handling roles here] These can help you to benchmark your role and give an idea if your salary is in the right ballpark.
However, do proceed with caution, as titles and roles vary from agency to agency and may not always give as accurate a view as you might hope. For every example where you can find a similar role with a higher salary, there is likely to be another example with a lower salary as well, so make sure you have taken into account these different sources and you have set a realistic benchmark.
Similarly, it’s important to consider your total package. Benefits packages differ hugely between companies and need to be factored in when you are thinking about your overall compensation. Benefits – such as generous pension contributions, childcare vouchers, private healthcare, variable bonus schemes and even the use of a mobile phone – can all add up and should be taken into consideration when looking at your compensation. Depending on the make-up of your full package, you may be better off on a lower salary with a fantastic benefits package, rather than just a higher base salary.
Finally, it’s worth considering where you are on your career trajectory, where you are aiming to get to and how your employer can help to support you to get there. Salary is only one element (albeit an important one) of your relationship with your employer and if you enjoy your role and you are getting personal satisfaction and development in your job, it may be worth a short-term trade off on salary in return for longer-term career aspirations. But only you can answer that!
Having taken everything into account, if you still have concerns about your salary you should speak to your line manager or HR. An open and honest conversation may help you to understand why your employer feels you are at the level they pay you and how, if possible, to improve your salary or you may be given the reassurance you are looking for that your employer is committed to your personal development and salary progression.
Moving role isn’t without its risks so it’s worth weighing up if the gain of a potential new role is worth it – a simple conversation with your employer may well help facilitate enough change that you get a better balance of risk/reward than changing jobs based on reward alone.
If you do decide you want to raise it with your manager or HR go to the meeting prepared - try not to be defensive when you meet but to talk through your concerns and where possible back them up with facts. Similarly be realistic in your expectations and how your company might be able to handle your salary issue as they will need to take into account a broader view of the team as well as the overall business. In larger agencies there may also be set times of the year and specific processes which need to be followed to review salaries. Try to remain open minded and work with the company to understand what can or can’t be done and in what sort of time frame.