So, this happened to me like a year or two back. There I was sitting with a straight face… well maybe it was a little screwed up but it’s not every day I find out that my colleague’s post-tax salary was still flirting with my base salary. Funnily enough, he told me so nonchalantly that my brain hadn’t processed his words before he changed the subject to something else. I spent so long convinced that certain salaries could only be obtained at a certain seniority but here this guy was, same level as me but with more coin in the bank. Dare I say I found it hard to be happy for him? Not that I was envious, but it made me reflect upon my own position and question why my salary wasn’t liaising with other tax brackets too. I’m sure HMRC must love this guy, and whilst I have no desire in the taxman sniffing down my neck, I do believe if you’re good at your job then you should be paid accordingly. Ironically though, prior to that conversation I wouldn’t have classed myself as underpaid at all, quite the opposite in fact! I just didn’t realise whilst I was having takeaways, others were definitely fine dining.
So what changed? I had a conversation about salary! I was always made to feel like it was such a taboo subject… even thought at one point it was illegal to disclose your salary within the workplace; neither of these statements are true. Companies very much push this agenda because it works in their favour, leading to silo’d info and lack of data points for their staff to know if they’re being paid fairly or not. You can rock up to your boss’ office with as much vim as you like but having an *inkling* you’re underpaid is nothing compared to cold, hard facts. I remember during my pay review a couple years back my old boss walked me through my pay package then finished off with “but don’t discuss your pay with anyone else”, lol. It was at that point I knew I was being mugged off. I’m sure if I had asked around I would’ve realised how childish my salary actually was compared to my peers and would’ve been at my boss’ neck asking for an explanation. Being underpaid is one thing but earning less than the guy who strolls in at 9:30 everyday but claims he’s “so busy mate” is a kick in the teeth.
The art of negotiation is a tough one. People would rather settle for a little less just to avoid the back & fourths which comes with the process. That’s why you have certain guys are here tap-dancing to the first salary offer they receive whilst their age mates are scoffing at the opportunity. In certain scenarios there’s absolutely no flexibility in salary negotiations whatsoever but it never hurts to ask. Given the current times we’re living in I appreciate there’s many people up-and-down the country who don’t have the luxury of being picky but for those who do, why not exercise that right? Your boss is doing the same with their boss and their boss is doing the same with their boss; closed mouths don’t get fed! And the best time to negotiate is when you’re entering a new role; if a company thinks you’re worth it, they’ll put their hands in their pockets. Don’t be that guy, three years deep talking about “if you don’t increase my salary to x amount I’m leaving”. Bro, you ain’t going nowhere; you’ve got kids and a mortgage to pay for. TV Licence is still outstanding yet you think you’re gonna quit your job with no backup plan over a couple grand, you can’t kid a jester.
When you know your worth, you won’t under sell yourself for short term gain BUT you also need to be realistic with yourself. Certain industries and certain job roles command more of a pay-out than others. We’ve seen over the last year that the NHS have been literally carrying the country on its back, but unless your nurse can whip a ball *top bins* in the corner of the net, they ain’t getting that footballer salary. That doctor be saving lives, but that goalkeeper be saving pens! Research is key to understand what your role, your industry and someone of your experience should roughly be earning. And if you get that opportunity elsewhere which can be treating you better, why stay in a toxic relationship? That all too familiar cycle of finding a new role then your current company taking your wage demands all the more serious. These companies will gaslight you into thinking your demands are too high until you hand in your notice and like magic, they’ll stump up the funds to keep you. Don’t wait for the Houdini tricks to get your way; let’s change those asks into demands and ensure we know our worth… then add tax.