Talking About Money At Work

Talking about money in the workplace can be uncomfortable. Because personal finance tends to be the last taboo topic in our modern world, many people cringe at the thought of bringing up their salary and benefits with their coworkers - or even their boss. However, discussing money at work with your HR department or your boss, and understanding your worth, can be key for employees looking to “level up” in their career.

Know Your Rights

As much as some businesses may try to keep conversations around compensation quiet, it’s legal to discuss your salary, benefits, or other methods of compensation as a result of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. You’re also entitled to equal pay for equal work according to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Recently, some political entities have been trying to update the Equal Pay Act with The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would further cement the law.

Know Your Worth

Are you up for a promotion? Applying for a new position within your organization? Do some research on salary first. It’s typical for organizations to offer you a raise that’s a percentage of your salary. However, given the ever-changing economic tides, it’s possible that:

  1. You were originally underpaid, and a small percentage salary increase may not be enough to keep up with inflation, or with what your role is worth.
  2. Your role is currently worth more than it was.

You can start by asking your human resources department what the typical salary range for your role is. Although you may be living comfortably with your current salary, many people are surprised to find that their salary range is notably higher than they expected. This extra money could increase your cash flow, help you pay down debt more quickly, or build your retirement savings nest egg. You can also ask your human resources representative what they’re currently offering new candidates from outside your organization for your position - it may be more than what you were originally offered when you started with your company.

If you’re not comfortable talking to your human resources department, there are plenty of free resources available to you to investigate what your position is worth on the current job market. Glassdoor, for example, is an excellent resource to check what your position’s average pay range is in your specific industry or location.

Reviewing Your Benefits

Salary isn’t the only way your employer can compensate you! Make sure that you regularly review your benefits and discuss them with your coworkers! Although your employer is offering the same benefits to everyone, you never know what perks you may have overlooked. For example, many companies offer free adoption consulting or even grants that support you in the adoption process. Others offer free (or discounted) financial wellness programs for their employees. You never know what benefits you might be missing just because you’ve never asked! If you’re really curious, go a step further and reach out to your HR representative to learn more.

Talking To Your Boss

When you ask for a raise, or for a bigger salary increase with a promotion or added responsibility at work, you’ll need to be prepared to do a few things:

  1. Justify the raise based on industry averages.
  2. Justify why you deserve the increased salary.

Although there’s often some flexibility in your pay, your boss likely isn’t going to dramatically increase your salary without good reason! Before requesting a raise, take some time to think about the value that your experience and skillset bring to the organization. Brainstorm a few tangible examples of ways you’ve positively grown your team, increased your company’s revenue, or have streamlined processes to save time and money.

Additionally, you’ll need to be prepared with a game plan if your employer denies your request for a pay increase. Are you planning to stick around, even if things are tense between you and your boss after you put in your request? Are you going to need to find another job that could potentially offer you what you’re worth?

Talking about money at work is awkward, but knowing your worth and advocating for yourself in the office can make a big positive impact on your personal finances. A financial planner can help to coach you through these sometimes uncomfortable conversations, learn to leverage your expertise and the information you gain to grow your career (and your income!), and use your increased cash flow to grow your wealth! Ready to learn more? Contact us today for your consultation.

Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.

"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.

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