It’s your money I’m after baby

So most of us go to work because we need the money.  We can put lots of wonderfully worded, good intentioned arguments together about how money is not the motivator, but let’s be honest job satisfaction doesn’t cut it when it comes to paying the mortgage.  We may choose one job or one type of work because we prefer it and trade-off some money, but essentially we are all there because we have something that we need to pay; food, shelter, energy bills, addiction to Coco Pops etc.

Which is why pay is such a sensitive issue within organisations.  Ask any compensation related questions in a survey and you will get significantly lower results than for environment or leadership for example.  I’ve worked in organisations with very defined pay structures, I’ve worked in organisations with broad pay bands and I’ve worked in organisations where there was little if any structure at all.  And I’ve heard the dissatisfaction from employees in each different scenario.

But there are two specific things that are on my mind at the moment, which I think are interrelated: negotiating salary increases on internal moves and counter offering to defend against poaching. Both are event-based situations that occur outside of the normal salary management process and require both a strategic and tactical approach, because invariably they also involve your organisational talent.

I know that decisions in either case will depend on a number of factors, the employee’s current salary, their “demands”, internal comparators, affordability etc. However, those are the mechanisms, I’m interested more in the moral/emotional arguments that are expressed in these circumstances. Is it ok to negotiate a bigger increase when you are promoted internally or should you just get what you’re given? Is it right to counter offer or should you accept that people will leave and move on?

I’ve worked in cultures where if you were being offered a promotion and you tried to argue for more money it would be seen as a black mark on your career.  You were expected to answer the call of duty and THEN get rewarded when you delivered (although funnily enough, that was always after the next milestone….). But I know in other organisations it is run of the mill stuff.  Similarly, I know organisations that see resignations as the quick route to ex-communication, with no thought for trying to retain people, and others that will fight tooth and nail for their “talent” regardless of whether they are really…..talented.

So, more questions than answers I guess. Am I making too much of this and getting confused? I know the theory, but does anyone really operate like that or are we all in the quagmire of uncertainty when it comes to pay and talent.  Is it fair game for employees to use their skills to negotiate more if they can? After all they need to feed their families and over the past few years we have hardly done much as organisations to bolster the psychological contract.

Do we need to accept as employers that this is fair game? Work is part of a transaction for money and any opportunity that arises to improve your lot, you’re in your right to take.