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Being Underpaid? How to Know and What to Do About It

It almost feels like time is ticking backwards. You check the clock again. Less than an hour to lunch, but it feels like you should be heading home by now. You used to like your job just fine, but recently, you’ve felt unappreciated. It’s not the boss or the people you work with, they’re great. It’s an underlying feeling that you’re being underpaid. Leaving you unmotivated at work.

You don’t want to take action based on an assumption or feeling, so, how can you know for sure if you’re being underpaid? And if you are, what can you do about it?

What does being underpaid really mean?

Since discussing pay is taboo in lots of places, you might suffer in silence right beside someone else who feels the same. This “secrecy” plays a big part in how people end up being paid less than average salaries.

If this veil of secrecy is lifted and you find out you’re being underpaid, it can be a huge blow to your pocketbook and self-esteem.

Being underpaid makes it difficult to do financially responsible things like building an emergency fund and saving for retirement. You may even end up relying on credit and putting your financial future at risk.

Make no mistake though, making less than you’re worth is about way more than just money.

Everyone wants, and deserves, to feel like who they are and what they do is valued. Being underpaid quickly erodes the feeling that those around you respect and value you. Making not being paid fairly for what you do a solid hit to a person’s self-worth. Business News Daily even goes so far as to call being underpaid at work “demoralizing.” A strong term, for sure, but accurate. 

Signs of being underpaid at work 

If you’re worried about questioning your feelings, there are many objective signs of being underpaid at work you can rely on. Have you encountered any of these situations?

Performance reviews 

It is common to get a pay raise at performance review time. If you don’t get performance reviews, you may not get the pay raise, either. 

More responsibilities

When you take on more responsibilities at work, you should see a higher salary too. If you’re doing more or putting in more time and not earning more money, there is a good chance you are underpaid at work.

New candidates and co-workers make more than you do

Discussing pay is frowned upon, but you have an inkling that new candidates and co-workers make more than you do. Maybe someone’s spending habits seem out of sync with what their salary could afford. Or you hear murmurings that someone got a pay raise, and you haven’t seen one. 

Your salary isn’t keeping up with inflation

You can’t help but hear about the rate of inflation right now. Global News says the Record High Inflation Rate will settle down in 2023. That’s not soon enough for you. Over the past couple of years, you’ve been falling behind at an alarming rate.

The company is growing, but you see no benefit

Despite the pandemic and the rest of the world events, the company grows every quarter. You work hard to contribute to the company. The big bosses get big bonuses, but you get nothing.

How to prove you are being underpaid

The signs are clear, you’re being underpaid. So now, what do you do? The first step is to find proof.

Clear. Strong. Objective. Proof.

Finding solid evidence is the first step to moving towards a fair salary. Some employees who are underpaid at work hesitate to gather the evidence they need. There can be many reasons for their hesitation. It could be that they just “don’t want to know.” Or, it could be that they don’t think anything they do will make a difference.

It’s important to move past those hesitations and think about your future. Earning more money now means a higher salary for the rest of your life. Glassdoor research explains that raises are based on what you currently earn. Meaning that every pay raise you get results in an even bigger salary gap.

Do some online research

Check online job posting sites to see what salary range they offer for someone of your level of experience. A good place to check is the Government of Canada website. They have a lot of information on pay, minimum wage, deductions, and wage recovery.

What you bring to the team

Think about what you bring to the team. Are you a natural leader? Do you help train new people? Does your team look to you for your help?

The difference your level of experience makes

If it has been some time since you have had a raise in pay, ask yourself what difference your experience makes. Can you get more done? Faster? Better? Collect evidence to link your performance to your development and level of experience. 

You’ve got the proof, time to take action.

It’s not just a feeling or suspicion you’re being underpaid anymore. You’ve kept thorough notes of all your research and have conclusive proof. What do you do now? Ask for a performance review.

A performance review is a natural time to ask for a pay raise. Discussing pay is part of the conversation. These next steps will help you through the performance review. They’ll give you the best chance at getting a higher salary. 

Ask for a meeting with your manager

Remind your manager when you started working for the company and ask for a meeting. You might say something like, “I’ve been working here for 2 years now. I’d love to have a short meeting to discuss my performance. Can I book 30-minutes with you tomorrow morning?”

Organize your notes

This is the reason you kept notes on your online research, what you bring to the team, and the difference your experience makes. Make sure your notes look neat, professional, and organized. You are making an impression, much like your initial job interview.

Practice with a friend

Go over what you would like to say before the meeting with a friend. Or make a video on your phone and watch it yourself. Keep your discussion short and professional.

During the meeting

Start by telling your boss you really enjoy your job and look forward to a future with the organization. Remind them of a few specific successful projects. Then ask if they would suggest you take any training to move ahead. If your boss doesn’t bring up the subject of salary, it’s completely fair for you to bring it up. Confidently, but warmly, ask when you should expect a pay raise is a good way to start that part of the discussion.

What if your boss doesn’t give you a pay raise?

You tried everything, but you’re still underpaid at work. Now would be the time to think long and hard. Where do you want to go from here? Are you okay with being underpaid? Maybe you are. It could be that getting to work from home or getting along well with your co-workers makes up for the loss in pay. That’s a completely legitimate conclusion.

If that’s not the case for you, the information you gathered for the meeting with your boss is a great addition to your résumé. Remember, there are many reasons a company can’t (or won’t) increase someone’s pay. It’s not personal. Chalk it up to a learning experience and use your newfound knowledge to find a job that’s a better match to what you’re looking for.

Conclusion

If you are feeling underpaid at work, the chances are that you are. Do your research and then take action.

Feeling the financial effects of being underpaid because you can’t make ends meet? Taken on too much debt to make up the difference? Contact Consolidated Credit for more information. We can help.

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