Published December 11, 2013
If you think you’re being underpaid at your job, you probably are.
With corporate costs on the rise, even the most profitable companies are keeping their budgets tight. And the first place many businesses pull the purse strings is with employee compensation. What’s more, as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, many enterprises trimmed their payrolls without expecting a drop in productivity, meaning they are essentially asking employees to do more for stagnant wages.
Being underpaid feels awful, especially for the most dedicated and hardworking employees. But how do you know that you are definitely underpaid, and what can you do about it?
Sign No.1: Your company’s revenue has risen significantly but your pay hasn’t.
Solution: Don’t just assume your organization’s earnings have increased over the past few years, get the actual figures. Publically-traded companies are required to file financial reports on a quarterly or annual basis and other large companies issue statements on their growth and earnings. If you can’t seem to get your hands on this information, consider meeting with your boss and asking about the organization and your department’s performance to get a better sense of the firm’s financial health over the past few years. This is also a prime opportunity to ask about bigger opportunities for you to contribute internally where you can earn more.
Sign No. 2: Your colleagues are living large, but you’re struggling to make ends meet.
Solution: It’s never a good idea to share your salary with your co-workers, but you should compare your paycheck to equivalent positions within the industry. Not only will this provide a sense of where you fall on the pay scale, engaging in these conversations also helps you build your network and keeps your finger on the pulse of your industry. You never know when or from where a better opportunity will come your way.
Sign No. 3: Your responsibility has grown but not your pay.
Solution: If your workload is forever increasing, but you haven’t been compensated for it, don’t fret. It’s good that your employer trusts you enough to rely on you, plus the increased responsibility will look good on your resume. If you feel you aren’t being paid fairly, consider having ongoing conversations with headhunters. These professionals can keep you abreast of your industry’s salaries and might be able to provide job opportunities. You can also use a salary calculator for a good estimate of what you should make in your position.
Sign No. 4: Your worth doesn’t equal your pay.
Solution: It’s important to be really clear about your worth. Most professionals undervalue their work and for that reason they accept being underpaid. Consider what your hourly rate would be if you were self-employed, and then figure out your hourly rate at your current job to make sure the figures are aligned. Sure, if you’re a salaried employee with benefits, it’s important to account for those extra perks. But, if you would charge $200 per hour for your skills, knowledge and hard work, but you’re only being paid $30 per hour plus benefits, you might consider seeking other opportunities while you’re still employed. It’s always easier to find a new job when you have one.
Sign No.5: You’re just happy to have a job.
Solution: Well, with that attitude, no wonder you’re underpaid! Yes, the job market remains tight and tentative so it’s understandable to be grateful you’re employed, but that doesn’t make it OK to be unfairly compensated. Don’t become so comfortable that you take yourself out of the game for other opportunities.
Lindsay Broder, The Occupreneur™ Coach (on Twitter @occupreneur), is a certified professional coach based in New York. A Wall Street veteran, she specializes in Occupreneur™ coaching, strategy and crisis management services for executives, business leaders and organizations who strive to improve their businesses or careers.