If I asked the question: “Would you like to make more money?” What would you say?
I’m about 99% sure you’d say: “Of course! Show me the money!”
But what if I asked if you were being underpaid?
On the surface, it may sound like the same question, but I’m really getting at two entirely different things here. The first question has more to do with the fact that it’s human nature to never really be satisfied with the amount of money we’re bringing home – let’s face it – even millionaires aspire to become billionaires.
But the second question is getting at something deeper: Do you feel the dollar amount assigned to represent your value at work – a.k.a. your salary – is fair?
According to a 2014 Glassdoor survey, 40% of employees feel they’re underpaid. That’s 2 out of every 5 people, and that’s insane. This means that most of the people at your company (maybe even including you) aren’t happy with their paychecks.
"40% of employees feel they’re underpaid. That’s 2 out of every 5 people."
But there’s a difference between generally feeling like based on what you contribute professionally, you’re not making enough to save, invest, or travel as much as you’d like, and actually having the intel to back up these feelings.
For example, imagine for a moment you’re the manager of a large department. One of your employees walks into your office and tells you she feels she isn’t being paid fairly. You try to probe and get to the bottom of why she feels this way, but the only thing she keeps telling you is: “I just feel like I should be making more money”.
The employee in this scenario is really doing herself a disservice. How can you expect to see a positive outcome – especially when it comes to something as tricky as asking for a raise – if you don’t have any facts to back up your request? Sadly, your boss isn’t sitting around waiting to hand you an extra wad of cash just ‘cause. So, before you walk into his office demanding to be paid more, you’ve got to be clear on where you stand.
Here are 4 ways to tell if you’re truly being underpaid:
1. Your Level of Responsibility Has Increased, But Your Salary Hasn’t Followed Suit
Nine times out of 10, if your responsibilities have increased, your salary should too. Think about it – your previous pay corresponded with your previous work, so if there’s been a significant change in what’s expected of you, shouldn’t there at least be a conversation on how the change affects your compensation?
Looking at your current salary in the context of any new role you take on, is a crucial step to make sure your salary remains competitive.
2. You Haven’t Received a Raise in a Long Time
In an ideal world, you should expect to receive a raise every year. And not only should your new salary keep up with the rate of inflation, but it should also represent the value you’ve contributed to your team over the past 12 months. Basically, it should be your company’s way of saying: “Hey, girl. We value you. We appreciate you. Keep doing what you’re doing.” However, in the real world, we know things don’t always work out this way.
If you haven’t seen your salary move in a positive direction in two years or more (or if the bump you did receive hardly made a dent in your plan to pay off your credit cards), you’re most likely being underpaid.
3. You Know [For a Fact] People in Similar Roles Get Paid More Than You Do
While it’s generally frowned upon for employees to discuss their compensation with their coworkers (though not illegal in most cases), there are other ways to get to the bottom of where your salary falls in comparison to people in the same role as you.
Sites like Glassdoor and Payscale have completely changed the game on accessing insider salary information. With a few simple clicks, it’s possible to find the average pay for virtually any role at any company. If you’ve researched three to five salaries and they are way off the mark when you compare it to your own, this is a huge red flag and could mean you’re not being paid enough.
4. Your Colleagues Are Quitting Left and Right
While the main reason people quit a job is to escape a bad boss, one of the other top reasons is to escape bad pay. If all of a sudden your work besties are running for the hills – you may need to pull one of them to the side and ask why. The fact that your coworkers are calling it quits could mean they are finding better money opportunities at other places and it definitely means it’s time to take a look at your own numbers.
The key thing to remember is this: Your salary is something that should be looked at often in order to make sure it stays in line with your responsibilities and the industry standard. If you can relate to any of the scenarios I’ve described, it’s time to take a long, hard look at your salary so you can be sure you’re being paid what you’re worth.
"Your salary is something that should be looked at often in order to make sure it stays in line with your responsibilities and the industry standard."