Maybe a job you recently started is way more demanding than it was originally made out to be, or your responsibilities have expanded over the years while your pay has basically remained the same. In either case, being overworked and underpaid is a predicament that many people find themselves in, whether at a new job or an old one–thankfully, there are several possible solutions. Below we’ve provided a list of options for anyone who is overworked and underpaid:
Ask for a Raise
It’s the first thing our mind goes to, but requesting a raise might not be the easiest solution for a number of reasons: your employer could be strapped for cash, for instance, or you could ostensibly be making market value for your work. If neither of these are true, though, and a raise does feel appropriate, take a look at this article on when and how to ask for a raise. This guide provides all the insight you’ll need to frame your request as convincingly and agreeably as possible.
Talk About Hours
If you’re unhappy because your pay doesn’t reflect the exhausting number of hours you work and you doubt that your boss is open to giving you a raise, perhaps it’s time to talk about cutting back the time you spend at work. Many employees who gain new skills while on the job are asked to take on more responsibilities than their position initially entailed. And while this might be a good thing as far as career development goes, it doesn’t always mean that your salary will go up. This increase in responsibilities (and therefore hours), coupled with a salary that lags behind, is a form of pay compression–more work is concentrated into each dollar you earn, giving your employer a better value on the labor you provide. If you find yourself the target of pay compression and you don’t see your salary increasing anytime soon, bring up the idea of lessening your load.
Look Into Equity
Let’s assume your company needs you, but you doubt that a raise or fewer hours are within the realm of possibility. This probably means that you’re making the type of sacrifice that’s usually only made by people who have a financial stake in the company. When the time is right, try bringing up the possibility of partnership or equity with your boss. This might be a viable solution for both of you–your hours and pay might remain the same, but the extra hours you put in can now be rewarded as the company grows. The benefits you gain from partial ownership could also go a long way towards planning for retirement.
Assess the Market
Maybe it doesn’t look like any of the above solutions are possible, or perhaps your appeal was quickly turned down. If that’s the case, then it’s probably time to join the majority of high-performing workers who tend to switch jobs every two to five years. Take a look at the job market, and start sending out cover letters for positions that pop out. If this goes as planned, you’ll be able to make a smooth transition out of your old job and into a new, more manageable one.
Being overworked and underpaid is not an enviable position for anyone to be in, but luckily it is possible to take immediate action. Take the next opportunity you get to sit down with your boss for a meeting, and use it to talk openly about your position at the company. With the right language and proper attitude, things should take a turn for the better.