Fans of the Blondie comic strip are well aware of all of the ups and downs of working for Julius Dithers. They know that for the better part of 90 years, main character Dagwood Bumstead has been unsuccessfully pushing for a raise. Interesting things happen whenever he gets up the nerve to ask the boss for a bit more to his paycheck.
We can laugh at Dagwood’s troubles as a beleaguered office manager who isn’t paid what he’s worth. But what he faces in the comic strip world also occurs in the real world. Raises are a sticky subject more than capable of causing conflicts between employers and employees.
Employee raises are especially important now that the economy is strong and the labor market tight. Employers might be forced into giving raises to their most tenured employees just to keep them around. It is always a balancing act between controlling payroll costs and remaining competitive enough to retain the top talent.
Compare Salaries in Your Industry
There are numerous things employers can do to address the proposition of employee raises. The first is to compare salaries within the industry. Yes, this requires a bit of research. It requires making some phone calls, looking into BLS statistics, contacting staffing agencies, etc.
The thing is that salary is still one of the most important concerns to employees. It doesn’t matter how many perks the company offers if the wages it pays are considerably lower than market average. So you really have to know what other companies are paying their workers for similar work.
Ask Employees What They Think
Another thing that employers can do is ask employees what they think. There is nothing to be afraid of in doing so. Employees will be honest about their perceptions of their wages. Moreover, asking their opinions affords the opportunity to learn if there are other ways to compensate them without necessarily raising their salaries.
Engaging in a conversation might reveal that employees would rather have a better health plan than higher take-home pay. Or you might find out that they are willing to sacrifice a higher salary in return for unlimited paid time off. There are any number of possibilities that you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
While engaging with employees, it’s also important to listen carefully to what they say. Any admitted unhappiness may actually have nothing to do with pay at all. Unhappy employees may have a host of other reasons for their unhappiness, reasons they believe will never be corrected. As such, they think they deserve to earn more. But if you can correct those things that are causing the unhappiness, there may not be an immediate need for a raise.
Consider Bonus Pay
BenefitMall, a Dallas company that provides salary and benefits services to companies across the country, says that some employers approach the topic of raises by offering bonus pay. A decent bonus program gives employees an opportunity to earn more while at the same time encouraging greater productivity. This could be the best of both worlds for the employer.
The thing about bonus pay is understanding its tax implications. If your company were to use a provider like BenefitMall, all of the tax implications could be easily laid out by a BenefitMall account manager. Tax issues would be handled automatically through payroll processing.
Julius Dithers is not one to give out raises freely. But his approach is not a good way to address the raise issue. A better alternative to a knee-jerk decision is to research salaries, gather employee opinions, and consider all other options.