In The Workplace

I was asked by our department manager to handle additional tasks left unattended by a colleague who resigned recently. This brings me to an “underpaid and overworked” situation. He told that I could be promoted in “due time” if I showed excellent performance. It looks like our department is no longer interested in hiring a replacement. The trouble is that I don’t have any formal appointment and am only relying on the verbal instructions of my boss. Two months have passed and nothing has happened. I don’t want to consult our human resource department to avoid antagonizing my boss. I’m beginning to love my job as I’ve already adjusted to it. However, my concern is his apparent lack of concern in a salary increase commensurate to my additional work load. Is this luck in reverse? What is happening? Is there such a thing as a promotion without a salary increase? — Torrential Rain.

To answer your first question. Let me start with this story: Posters announcing the loss of a dog started going up in one neighborhood. Along with a photo of the dog was the following message: “Lost — one dog. Brown hair with several bald spots, Right leg broken due to a car accident. Rear left hip hurting. Right eye missing and left ear bitten off in a dog fight. Its name is ‘Lucky.’”

Compared with the lost dog, I would still consider you lucky for being in that work situation. After all, not everyone is given the chance to prove his worth, even if you appear to be “underpaid and overworked” at first glance. While you’re in that “predicament” trying to prove your true value in the workplace, other applicants out there are still trying their luck in the job market.

As to your second question, let me hazard a guess: Your boss could be taking a realistic and practical approach. It’s no knee-jerk reaction to fill a job vacancy. He’s in no rush to hire anyone. This is the most sensible thing to do if one is interested in improving labor productivity.

It’s also possible your current task falls within the same job grade level. That is — you’re doing the same kind of work within the price range of your job description, regardless of the volume of your work, which is a different story. Besides, you’ve said you’ve already adjusted to your work situation.

Further, promotion with an appropriate salary increase happens if you’re elevated to a higher grade level. For instance, if your current level is Grade 6, and if you’re given additional volume of work, then it’s possible that you may not be given an increase, except for an annual merit increase due to your performance. Even the merit increase may not happen at all and depends much on your company policy.

Otherwise, if you’re assigned to perform the work of a person assigned to Grade 7, then it’s appropriate and justifiable for you to be given a pay hike, because it’s clearly an upgrade of your job classification. This is not apparent in your case. And that explains why you were not yet given a salary increase. At least, not yet.

Whatever happens, this necessitates the involvement of the HR department, which must prepare a “Notice of Personnel Action” to formalize the change or changes. However, nothing may happen if your boss does not lift a finger to make a recommendation. That’s the first thing you should do. If you don’t ask your boss, the answer is always “no.”

Talk to your boss as soon as possible. Do it at an appropriate time, when he’s in a good mood. Do an eyeball-to-eyeball meet-up. Don’t hide behind emails as you can’t read his body language. Be courteous as well. Ask if it’s the right time to ask him about your work performance. Raise all possible questions that revolve around the following: “How am I doing? Am I meeting your expectations? How would you like me to improve on my performance?”

No one can answer those questions except your boss.

Next is to explore everything with the HR department and discover your options. Don’t be afraid to talk to HR. It’s your best friend, next to your boss. HR can tell you what’s possible and not possible under the company’s current management policies.

In conclusion and to answer your third question, let me tell you that all promotions must be accompanied with a salary increase. I have yet to see or even hear a situation where there’s no salary increase in the case of a promotion. What’s the point of giving someone additional tasks and greater responsibility without a corresponding reward? Isn’t unfair to say the least?

If the organization is not doing well, management may opt to delay giving a salary increase, say for three to four months. And as you reach the fifth and six months of performing your job, there will come a time when you will feel resentment against your boss. It’s natural to feel that way. But it should not be the end of the world for you.

If money is not forthcoming in the long term, negotiate for other forms of remuneration, at least in the meantime. It may include giving you product discounts, attending public seminars, or even vacation leave for much-needed rest.

This could have the benefit of somehow tempering your resentment. Once again, let me tell you that everything has an expiration date. The sooner than you can imagine that time is up, then do whatever is necessary for you to correct the situation. That includes dusting off your CV for other opportunities.

ELBONOMICS: If you don’t ask, the answer is always “no.”


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