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January 30, 2010
How to Respond to Pay Policy Complaint, ‘I Can't Live on What You're Paying Me!’

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 can't live on what you're paying me!"

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  • Don't assume any responsibility for the employee's personal budget. You can commiserate with him/her, emphasize that you did all that you could do to provide a raise, etc. -- but, at the end of the day, if you've done all that you can do as the employer, it's the employee's job to make his pay stretch or not.
  • Use the "times are tough all over" approach this year. This is a unique period because all employees have seen the day-in, day-out media coverage about the economy -- it's obvious that employers and employees across the country are hurting. Remind this worker that your organization is stretching dollars as much as possible to keep everyone on the job.
  • If this employee is truly someone you'd rather not lose, swing into retention mode right away, particularly in search of non-monetary rewards or benefits you might offer to keep him/her.

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 tmurphy@hrpartneradvantage.com. 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 dwudyka@westminsterassociates.com .

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