Business manager Janis (not her real name) negotiated with human resources for a year to get the salary increase she knew she deserved after getting promoted without a corresponding pay hike.
The key to getting what she deserved was to open discussions with HR. The 26-year-old said she couldn't accept why she got more tasks without additional renumeration. Worse, her subordinates were getting twice as much because they were more senior in age.
"I'm not asking for an increase, I'm asking for what is fair. Thank God they gave naman what's fair," Janis told reportr.
"When it comes to sahod, kasi based on experience, 'yung iba 10 years na in the industry, ako five lang. So they're really have twice my salary and I'm leading them," she told reportr.
Digitalization head Ian, on the other hand, switched jobs to get a higher salary, believing that in the Philippines, negotiating for pay hikes is taboo.
"What usually happens is that people ask for a promotion instead. If that doesn't happen, people tend to apply elsewhere or use another offer for a chance of a counter offer," the 36-year-old told reportr.
Forget the taboos, there's nothing wrong about discussing salary increases with your boss or HR, senior human resources manager Michelle Morales told reportr. Employees are always welcome to ask if it's possible to request for a salary adjustment, she said.
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Who qualifies for a salary increase?
Openly discussing salaries at work creates a high-performing environment if the company culture is mature enough to handle it, Morales said. This makes newbies aim for higher positions to reach their desired salary instead of comparing their earnings to others, which can breed animosity, she said.
For the employees, heavier workload or longer hours can be considerations for a salary increaser. Morales said HR also has its own criteria, like skills and know-how, scope of responsibilities, accountabilities involved, and even decision-making skills.
Under skills, HR looks at education, training, communications and relationships, problem-solving, and planning and organizing. Under responsibilities, HR checks for authority and leadership potential.
For accountability, HR checks how responsible employees are with money, company equipment and confidential records, Morales said.
"Hindi ibig sabihin 10 years na employee sa company, magaling na siya or na-gain na n'ya 'yung certain level of experience."
It can be tricky comparing yourself to your boss when it seems like they're slacking off at work, said Morales. "'Pag nasa ganung mindset kasi tayo it only shows na hindi natin kabisado ano ba talaga ang role, ang responsibility nung mga boss at 'di natin alam 'yung level of accountability talaga nila."
Workers who have the same function but work at different levels should also note why their salaries could be mismatched, said Morales. Two employees could be doing the same job, but the seniors can do their job faster with less guidance compared with the juniors.
"For me, it is more on a reflection of your skills and on how you sell yourself. Efficiency tends to be paid via performance bonuses anyway," said Ian.
Employees should note that while market research gives workers a glimpse of how much other people with the same job description are making in other companies, salary structures vary per company. For example, a start-up company could pay less than a more established multinational company due to to limited resources, said Morales.
You need to be brave enough to ask
Ranting about a low salary won't get you anywhere, Janis said. HR wouldn't know your problem unless you talk to them.
Comparing salaries with your colleagues without action will only lead to demotivation, which could lead to diminished productivity and low levels of engagement, said Morales
The best way to start the conversation is by being honest, said Janis. "Be brave enough na if you really value yourself, just ask."
If you're doing well at work or clocking in more hours than usual, "impossible naman na hindi siya nakikita ng boss mo," Morales said.
Don't feel discouraged if your boss doesn't approve your request, she said.
"Why not focus on your job? Hone your skills para mas malaki chance na mapansin 'yung competency ninyo and if not, at least ready ka sa future endeavors mo," said Morales.
If all else fails, you could seek greener pastures outside your workplace, like Ian. Your current employer might not see the potential, but others will, said Morales.
"Nakikita 'yan ng ibang company na talagang puwede makapagbigay sa'yo ng ini-aim mo na salary basta 'yung level of maturity and transparency, 'yun 'yung 'wag mawawala."
Michelle Morales is a psychometrician, human resources manager, and co-founder of Leading with Success, an eLearning company which aims to infuse positivity in the workplace.