You work hard, get paid right!

A few weeks ago an add on the Atlanta subway called my attention. It was from a small law firm offering  advice for claims on people's salaries. Its heading was atractive: You work hard. Get paid right! Who doesn't want to get paid right? Ok, but what do we mean when we say to get paid right? The answer on top of mind could be a very high amount on the payment form. However most of the time there will be someone else earning more than us, and most of the time there will be somebody else earning less than us. A good salary for someone could be average or even poor for another person. Even for the same person it can change at different times. 

Wait a second! It is not all about the money, right? Again, that would depend. But in general terms yes, that is not necessarily all about the money. That's pretty much what Abraham Maslow proposes in his theory about motivation: Different people have different needs and interests, and these are complex in nature. Usually a higher need can't be really covered until a more basic one has been covered. In a similar way, we´ll probably be more interested in a good balance among all our needs, than we would be about getting all in a single category (money) and nothing in all others.

So, what can be embedded into what the management jargon calls a "compensation package"? How can you assess what your job really has to offer you? How to assess if your job offer is truly appealing to your team members? How can you fairly compare what your current position offers against a potential opportunity?

Alignment, first and foremost

Before asking if you are getting paid right or not, there is a more important question. A question that asks if you are working in a place which is a good fit for you, and a place where you can fit properly. Answering that can look tricky at first, but it is worth the effort. There are some direct questions that can help to clarify that. What drives you? What are your values? What are your professional goals and aspirations? What's the organizational culture of your company? What are their values? How do they do things? Is there a match between both sets of answers? Even if we have answered them before, it is useful to ask them from time to time; they allow us to understand where we are, where do we come from and where do we want to go.

That is what alignment is all about! There are organizations with poor performance, and there are employees with poor performance. However,  something that happens more often is an employee with an adequate performance working for a company performing well, but with poor alignment between one another. You can have an extremely good salary, but if you do something that at the end of the day you don't like, or in a place that you don´t like, your satisfaction will decrease sooner or later. The questions above will provide you with the insights you need when assessing your current company, position and compensation package. Or the degree to which your organization fits a current team member or potential team member.

Cash is King

While it is true that cash is not the only thing to consider when thinking about a professional position, it is also true that in our society money is an important part of everything we do. Wether we like that fact or not. This means that the salary is an important part of what we do. So, you should be interested not only in getting the pay check every month, but in some other aspects that can save you headaches if you put them to play on your side.

First is to know if you are getting paid what was agreed, on time and every month. If you work for a serious company that´s probably a redundant question, but not necessarily. If you are not, I suggest you to start looking for a company which cares more about the needs of their people. You don´t need to join a global corporation to ensure it is a place that does right the basic things. Many small or medium companies are well managed. A similar question is if the company has a reputation of honoring its tax duties and other pertinent laws, if they don´t, they can get in trouble; if they get in trouble, your pay check or even yourself may end up in trouble.

If you are looking into an oportunity, it is important to make sure that you are comparing oranges to oranges and not oranges to apples. You need to make your due dilligence to understand what´s behind the number you have in front of you, and behind the overall compensation package. A higher number doesn´t necesarily mean that you will do better. Also there is the question about how much higher is the number; and how your costs will change if you decide to make the change.

Benefits in Kind

Your needs can be very different from those or another person. They can also be very different for yourself from one season to another. Depending on what your needs and interests are, you can certainly value benefits which are different from money, or at least different from a number in your pay check. Because of the nature of such benefits, companies are usually good at determining what these are (or they should be good at it), so they can craft their compensation packages in an appealing way for their employees.

These packages can be really diverse, for example they can range from policies around time off and holidays, medical and life assurance, budget for team activities, professional training and development, performance bonuses for employees, etc; all the way up to car assignment and usage, relocation assistance and bonuses for executives.

So understand what is included in the package, how much it aligns with your current needs and how much value that represents for you. This is even more important if you are assessing a potential opportunity. Keep also in mind that these conditions can change from one business unit to the other, even in the same company. So take the time to ask the appropriate questions to make your decisions in an appropriate manner. Also make sure that you do not take for granted the benefits that you currently have. For some of us the decision to pursue a different opportunity relies on a minimum threshold we set to justify the effort that going to another place requires. Even if the threshold is positive and favors a new place, if it is too low it may just not be worth it.   

Overall Perspective

Your job can offer you, or should offer you, more benefits than just your salary. The set of benefits that you get is the so called compensation package. These benefits change from company to company and from industry to industry. As the name implies it, they are a package. If you want to get the most of it, you should have very good clarity on what those are, how they translate into actual money and, more important, how much do you value them as an overall set; depending on your circumstances and interests. By following this process you can discover that you are getting paid better than you think, or that it is time for you to pursue other opportunities. It is too risky to take those decisions without an apropriate decision making process.

- Sergio Calvo.
Weekly Article #2


  1. Wonderful blog which contains so much interesting information and realities. There are some points that really got inspired like the part where it says that salary is not the only motivating factor in a job but instead should have a compensation package that caters to all other needs of the employee. So true.
    - LoreLawOffice.com

  2. Thanks for your kind words Rachel! I'm glad that you find it inspiring. Feel free to share your insights at any time.

  3. There is a popular saying which goes,"Money can't buy happiness." This is not true in all cases. Money can buy happiness as long as you buy or spend it for the right stuff. I agree that not all good paying jobs are right for you. If you are not happy with it then why stay. Find a job that makes you happy, that you want to report for duty feeling challenged everyday. :)
    - LoreLawOffice.com

    1. "Find a job that makes you happy, that you want to report for duty feeling challenged everyday." Well stated Rachel!


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