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, "But I'm one of your best workers!"
- Honor the employee's contributions but don't overdo it. Use concrete examples in your conversation to show that you do indeed realize how valuable this worker has been. At the same time, if the worker hasn't honestly been that great an asset, don't "overpraise" what he/she has done (these statements might come back to haunt you later if the worker files any sort of claim)
- Be as upfront as you can if you've "maxed out" your ability reward this employee. If you've done all that you can do to offer this worker a pay raise, make sure he/she understands (in dollar terms) how you raised the money to offer a raise in the first place. (Example: If he/she got a raise that's larger than two-thirds of the workforce, it's important that this worker recognize how well he/she made out.)
- Explore non-monetary rewards that might appeal to this employee and recognize his/her efforts.
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 .