In a BLR webinar entitled "Where's My Raise? How to Handle Tough Pay Conversations With Employees," Theresa Murphy of HR Partner Advantage and David Wudkyka of Westminster Associates offered this advice when confronted with the pay policy complaint, "I'll have to start looking for other jobs!"
- Decide upfront if you'd like to retain this employee. If so, you can focus on meeting his/her pay demands, finding benefits changes or other non-salary compensation to bridge the gap, or offering non-monetary improvements such as flextime. Try to pin down exactly what this valued worker is seeking to stay on the job -- you may be surprised many times to find that it's not always about a huge pay bump.
- On the other hand, if the employee in question is an average performer -- or, worse, a "problem child" you wouldn't miss -- then he/she may be threatening a departure that's indeed a positive development for you as the employer. If so, try to defuse the immediacy of the threat until you can make plans as needed to cover his/her absence -- and try to control how much griping this employee may do among colleagues once your conversation has ended.
Theresa Murphy is the principal consultant for HR Partner Advantage, an independent human resources advisory firm based in Raleigh, N.C. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. David Wudyka is the founder and managing principal of Westminster Associates, a Massachusetts-based human resource and compensation firm that specializes in pay, performance and productivity issues. He may be contacted at email@example.com .