I recently sat on a panel to interview candidates for a maintenance technician role. One candidate then mentioned that his current job pays him three hundred Ghana Cedis per month (equivalent to $75). I was in awe after I heard this and I just wanted to be clear on that so I asked; ‘Are you receiving this amount because you are on a contract basis?’ To my surprise, he answered saying he had been working with the said company for the past five years.
Let us look at this scenario;
I did not have a first degree or a diploma but had a certificate in broadcast journalism. I did not let my academic qualification stop me from applying for jobs I knew I would be able to do excellently even without a degree qualification because I believe in self-learning and application of knowledge. I had gathered experiences working with various firms that made my resume rich even without a degree.
With this, I applied to a company for an administrative assistant position for which I interviewed well and got the job. During salary negotiations, the country manager who was also in charge of recruitment offered an amount that to me, was fair enough and I was more than excited to take the job. Without being given an appointment letter, I was given a date to start work and told that the employment offer letter (which I did not receive until the second month of being on the job) would be given within the week I start. I started the job and even took on tasks that were not part of my job description and performed them excellently to the satisfaction of my immediate employers. My first month was ending and I was in high expectations of my salary because I had a lot of things to sort out on my budget list. I received a credit transaction notification from my bank only to realize that only half of the agreed salary was paid. You can imagine my confusion. I went forward to the country manager and asked for an explanation only for him to tell me that, the board had a meeting about my employment, they concluded to pay me half the amount because I did not have a degree or a diploma. I was angry and disappointed. I did not feel appreciated and felt cheated for my commitment, hard work, achievement of targets, and for the days I stayed to work overtime I felt I did not deserve the salary I was being paid.
So, the questions that I kept asking myself were;
‘Did they not see the academic qualification on my resume before offering me the job?’
‘Why did they not tell me about the new salary arrangement earlier?’
‘Will my transportation costs take up all of my now meagre salary?’
‘How much would I be able to save and how can I survive in this job?’
‘Am I not doing the same job and even doing better than the other employees who have diplomas and degrees?’
I am certain many others have gone through or are going through a similar phase with salary issues at the workplace, but how to address the issue, is in itself another issue.
Do you know your worth as an employee?
How much are your time and input worth to you and your employer?
If you believe you are worth more than the salary you are receiving, why would you still stay?
Is it because you would rather settle for less than stay at home unemployed?
The period of ‘’you are fortunate to have a job’’ is long gone. Many employees think and know they should be paid more than they are currently earning but they fail to find ways to demand a raise.
In today’s tough economy, some employers have found ways of underpaying their employees due to high unemployment rates. The onus lies on employees to know their value and not settle for less than they deserve. This is not to say that the main aim of looking for a job should be based on financial benefits. The conducive working environment, networking opportunities, training programs and rich experiences gathered on the job go a long way to add value to the employee.
If you find yourself in an organisation where your employer is verbally abusive with salaries not being paid per the date stated in your appointment letter or if salaries are not being paid at all for a couple of months due to reasons you are not aware of, do well to inquire from management rather than sit down and hope things get better. You cannot work for free. Be actively and aggressively looking and applying for other jobs while you continue to push to get paid. If the employer fails to pay you after many promises, you must take the issue up to the labour authorities.
Some employers go as far as offering jobs by word of mouth without issuing employment or offer letters. As an employee, make sure you receive an offer letter before you accept to start working with an organisation. Ensure that you understand the terms and conditions, benefits, responsibilities and that you are satisfied with the remuneration that comes with the job.
Seek clarity if you do not understand anything stated in the offer letter before you sign and start work.
During your job search, ensure that you maintain realistic salary expectations with regards to the salary requirements.
Your salary or wage expectations should be realistic and in line with the current trends and standards of the industry or field, you have chosen. Do research on how much others in your position are earning in different institutions. If you have done your homework correctly, you should be bold enough to politely ask for the salary you deserve. Also, ensure that your experiences, skills set and academic credentials meet the requirements of the job. Make sure you are applying to the right jobs as well.
As an employee, see yourself as an entrepreneur with one big client. No matter how much you are earning, it is not going to be easy. You must be able to stand up for your value and that is what will get you the compensation you deserve. Your salary largely depends on your ability to demonstrate your value to your company.
At KUSI Consulting, we offer Human Resource Management Solutions, Salary Surveys, HR Procedure and Policy Implementation, Employer/Employee Relations Management, HR Consulting, Coaching and Counselling. Let us help you as you climb the ladder to a successful career.
Article by Francisca Baafi, HR Assistant at KUSI Consulting