More Work for Less Pay: Compensation Issues & Employee Retention
employee retention

Actual Comments of Why Employees Leave

“They would hire in new people to Project Management [who] were making more than we were, but we would be told, ‘You will have to do this or that [part of their job] because they don’t know what they are doing.’ It did not make sense that we were doing the work, and they were getting the pay.”

The Solution:

This anonymous quote from an actual exit interview is from an employee who worked in support of project managers and complained that he was expected to go outside his job description to complete the tasks of project managers while remaining at his subordinate pay rate.

When a coworker asks us to take on tasks that are not ours, we can tactfully deflect it by asking that the request for your time go through a manager for approval first.

It’s a different story when a manager asks us. The manager might construe it as “pitching in” and being a “team player.” But what if those tasks are above your pay grade? It might be exciting at first to do a task or two with more cachet, but when they become a regular part of your job without a bump in pay or a promotion? Depending on your perspective, it’s either an opportunity, just “the way it is,” or just plain unfair.

But could it be a legal issue?

Run it by your legal department, but most likely, asking employees to do tasks of higher-paid co-workers without bumping up their pay is not an actionable on the part of the employee, who is free to put the higher-level tasks they handled on their resumes to help them get better jobs with their next employer (which, who knows, may be the case here).

But when HR learns about this practice and the resulting complaint, it’s also worth asking, is it something that upper management might want to be aware of?

For example, to best facilitate future employee retention, management could consider:

• Changing the job description to reflect some project management duties
• Upping the pay rate
• Reviewing the hiring process for project managers to screen for candidates who can “hit the ground running”
• Reviewing the project manager training process
• Doing more “hiring from within” and offering employees like the one in question open jobs in Project Management

Intellectually, we all understand that the world is not always fair. But lack of justice, real or perceived, is still difficult for us to accept.

In the end, every employee gets to be their own judge of how fair or unfair their salary is. So when employees are asked to do something that higher-paid co-workers are supposed to be handling, there is always that chance it will create umbrage.

Compensation issues, even ones without legal ramifications, can still hurt employee retention.

(This blog post is brought to you by HSD Metrics, an exit interview company that helps companies reduce employee turnover by providing automated reference checking, exit interviews, and by measuring employee retention. The comments from exiting employees that are featured in this blog are collected from actual exit interviews conducted using ExitRight®, HSD Metrics’ exit interviewing service. If you are interested in learning more, contact us today. Because we place the privacy of our clients at the top of our priority list; the names of all involved parties are kept completely confidential.)