Dear Aunty Em: Stay or go?

This could be you after you negotiate with your employers

‘I am at the same employer now for eight years and am in my third role. My manager has cut all our salaries and significantly increased our workloads. I’ve been told I’m lucky to work here and that there’s people banging down the door to take my job. I’m comfortable here, I know the people and the processes. But I’m unhappy. I’m scared of change. What do I do? Hope it gets better or leave?’ – Office stationary

Dear Office stationary,

What I’m hearing here is ‘exploitation’. It’s really easy to scare people into staying and this line that your manager is using is not unlike that of an abusive partner; ‘No-one else would ever love you’, ‘You’re lucky to have me’, ‘You don’t deserve more money.’

This is the language of abuse and sometimes when you’ve been somewhere for a long time, your confidence with the outside world gets eroded and you start to think that, hey, maybe they’re right? I am worthless.

I’m here to tell you that no job is worth that. We all need to earn a living and there are lots of ways to do that. You live in a big city and the options are endless.

The other thing I am hearing here is ‘experience’. You have eight years of experience. You are a loyal and trusted employee. They have obviously decided to keep you – yes, you – rather than all those other door-banging prospects. That tells me that you are valuable to these people and that puts you in a position to negotiate.

So here’s what I would do. I would explore other options and find out what the going rate is for your job. Go to some interviews at other companies and see how you feel.

If the new job opportunities excite you and they’re offering you more money for a similar role, it’s time to cut the cord. If you walk away from those interviews thinking, ‘meh’, it’s time to put on your big girl undies and negotiate with your current employers.

Most employers don’t want to pay their staff more because, hey, more profits for the owners. What they also don’t want to do is go through the hassle of hiring new people when their existing staff is performing well. There’s a inconvenient cost – in time, productivity and money – to recruitment.

Build a case for a pay rise – increased workload and any wins you have had recently – and talk to your managers. Tell them you love working there and you don’t want to leave but you will have to explore other options if the situation doesn’t improve. Be flexible – maybe they can pay you the same money for less hours/days if budget really is an issue, or they can pay for a training course that you’re interested in.

The bottom line is don’t ask, don’t get. Nothing will change unless you speak up because speaky wheels get the pay rise!

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