A reader writes:
I'm on my 6th year of working with the same small nonprofit. I haven't moved up or down. I've stayed at my same position.
Every year they do an evaluation, and every year I get the same raise, 1.5%. Since I have been working here, I have taken on more than my requirements. I have shed blood, sweat, and tears at this company.
I had asked for a 3% increase on my recent evaluation and was denied because I didn't "supervise" anyone. Is this honestly fair? I also received my A+ IT Technician Certification before my evaluation when I had asked for the raise. My manager denied my raise because she said that other employees in the company that received any type of certification were not given a raise. Is it really fair to base my job and my responsibilities against someone else in the company?
Salaries are based (or should be based) on market value. In the nonprofit world, sometimes that's also balanced against what the organization can afford to pay; many people accept lower salaries at nonprofits because they feel the work provides other rewards.
1.5% is low, even for nonprofits. This could mean one of several things:
1. Your employer tries to get away with lowballing employees and hopes you'll accept it, but might give you more if you present a strong case for it.
2. Your employer tries to get away with lowballing employees and won't budge regardless of the strength of your argument.
3. Your employer, like many nonprofits, is struggling with funding and can't give you more even if it wanted to.
4. Your employer is open to giving larger raises, but doesn't believe your performance warrants more.
I have no idea which of these is going on here, but what I do know is that you need to ask different questions when you next talk to your manager about this. Ask directly: "What would I need to change about my performance to get a higher raise?" Maybe it's not even possible, who knows. Ask and find out.
You asked whether any of this is fair. Fair means compensating you according to your value to the company, based on your contributions there. It's not really about what your coworkers earn or who has what certification. It's about the employer's assessment of your value. If you disagree with that assessment, you have the following choices:
* Ask for more -- but this must be presented as the case for why your accomplishments warrant more, not just longevity or certifications.
* Accept it and stay.
* Or, if you don't you don't like the salary you're being offered and the employer won't budge, go out there and see what other offers the world has for you. You might find one you like a lot better -- or you might decide that you'd rather stay put.