Six plans of action if your co-worker is paid more than you – according to the experts

Woman and pay riseYou are loyal to the business and an asset to the workforce however, catastrophe strikes when it is revealed that your colleague is receiving a higher salary than you. 

Managing the situation can seem like a minefield as you attempt to avoid an awkward atmosphere and an ongoing sense of resentment.  Here,  financial adviser Lauren Cochrane at the health and lifestyle brand LastVerdict presents her 6 tips on what to do if you find that your colleague is earning more than you.

Don’t name and shame

Learning that your colleague is receiving a higher salary than you can be incredibly frustrating.  It can be tempting to obtain a meeting with your boss where you reveal the names of the colleagues who are earning more than you along with an insight of how you acquired this information.  If this is your plan of action – stop.  ‘Leading on emotion is somewhat human nature’, says Cochrane.  ‘However, naming the colleagues that you believe are higher earners is confrontational, even if that is not your intention.  Inevitably, the interpretation will be made that you do not believe they contribute as much to the workplace and are below par, even if this is not the case.    Alternatively, arrange a meeting with the necessary associates in in order to discuss your progression within the company and keep it personal to you.  Position the meeting as an open discussion that will review your work, development and future objectives’.

You May Not Know What You Think You Do

‘Office culture can often involve idle gossip.  For this reason, the workforce often believes that they are ‘in the know’, with office happenings’, this is often not the case at all reveals Cochrane.  ‘A lot of the time, people only tell you what they want you to know.  Even if your role is the same title as your colleague, workloads are likely to differ and are rarely identical.  Truth of the matter is, you can never be 100 per cent sure of your colleague’s previous experience, current workload or what they are accountable for.  Therefore, it is not your call to determine if you deem their salary as fair.  It is wise to use this situation as an opportunity to identify areas where you can improve and what unique opportunities your skillset can bring to the workplace’.

Do not give ultimatums – unless you are prepared to see them through

Cochrane believes that 99.9% of the time, a salary is the prime decision maker in determining whether an employee will stay within a company or move on to pastures new.  ‘A person’s salary dictates much of their lifestyle and can make or break their relationship with a workplace.  If you deem your salary unreasonable when compared to others and wish to gain an increase, do not present your peers with ultimatums unless you are prepared to execute them.  Ultimatums can often see a colleague receive a nasty surprise as they can be forced to implement them.  If you feel that an ultimatum is the best route, ensure that it is realistic with an outcome that you are not afraid to commit to’.

Shout Your Wins

People can feel uncomfortable sharing their wins within the workplace.  They often feel conscious it portrays arrogance however, Cochrane disagrees.  ‘If you do not share your wins, then how do you expect to be rewarded?  Often, colleagues are so focused on their own workload and do not see outside of their own remit.  Do not be afraid to share your wins with your peers in order to highlight your worth within the business’.

Don’t take it up with your colleague – or others!

When it is revealed that your colleague is the higher earner, it can be tempting to spring question upon question upon them.  ‘I do not even have advice on how to tackle this’ says Cochrane.  ‘Put simply, don’t do it.  Your colleague does not have the final say with regards to how much they earn within the company and making your feelings known to them will only cause resentment, awkwardness and one hell of an atmosphere.  Do not choose to discuss it with your colleagues either.  It is incredibly unprofessional and the only person that it will reflect badly upon is you’.

Do not be intimidated by heading to HR

‘If you feel that you’re the yours and the salary of those around you is truly unjust, then do not be afraid to go to HR’, says Cochrane.  ‘This is not a move that should be take lightly however, HR should also not be viewed as an intimidating place.  A meeting with HR can provide clarity, reassurance and perhaps most importantly – a plan of action.

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