I need advice on a question. My employer has finally unfrozen salaries after 4 years. They have removed every perk except Health Coverage during the downturn. Now they have finally mentioned in a full production meeting that salaries are going to be adjusted, everyone in the office is looking for jobs currently and have all expressed concern over the amount that the raises are going to be. For me personally, I have not received a pay raise in 4 years. When the new pay raise is offered in the next couple of weeks, is it reasonable to expect for the pay raise to take the amount of time into consideration? By that I am saying, shouldn't the base raise be at a minimum 10% just for the rate of inflation since mid 2009? If that is the case, then a raise of only 10% isn't a raise at all, but just getting me and my coworkers back to exactly what we were making in 2009.

The other side of this coin is that since the freeze, my job role has expanded from needing direct supervision to producing entire jobs without any supervision and I have earned my professional license.

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    I would not expect more than the standard 2-3% – HLGEM Jul 18 '13 at 19:04
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    you've been living fine with your current salary for the last 4 years. What does it matter? If it was that big of a deal, you would have left while all of the perks were disappearing and the pay was frozen. If you stay, be thankful for whatever raise you get. – squeemish Jul 18 '13 at 19:06
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    Only senior management get "catch-up" raises. – Captain Kenpachi Jul 19 '13 at 9:02

You have decided that during the last 4 years the frozen salary and the declining benefits still was a better position than unemployment, or the jump to a new company. It was likely that other companies were having similar problems. You may have even remained because you hoped that you would be rewarded for your sacrifice at the end of the recession.

Some employees are looking, and now management has announced that raises are about to be awarded. That leaves employees in an interesting position: start looking, keep looking, or stop looking. The worst position for the employee is if they receive an offer from another company before knowing the size of the raise from the old company.

You need to adjust your criteria for staying: if they raise my salary by X I am staying, if they raise it by less than Y I will feel like quitting so I will take the first decent offer. In between you might start a low key search for a new job, because you realize the deferred raises are gone forever.

You can set these levels anywhere you want. They probability of getting 100% of the deferred raises is low, but you need to decide if that is what is important to you.

What they offer will be based on if they only feel comfortable with some raises and improved benefits; or if all their problems are solved and they want to reward those who stuck with them despite the sacrifices.


Could you look at this from the flip side? What is the financial health of the company? If the salary freeze was to keep the company afloat, then the raises may well be small ones as if you haven't seen any change in 4 years there could be the idea that a small raise of maybe a couple percent may be enough to prevent others from leaving. Not to be cynical here but what kind of position are you expecting your employer to take here? While I'd agree that there could be some discussion that because of the time, responsibility changes and other stuff you may want a bigger raise, there is a question of what can the company really do.

  • Thanks for the input. We will see how it all unfolds, and no I will not be happy with a standard 2-3% raise. Being 40% below the average pay for my position pretty much dictates that I have to leave, unless they release some of the salary that people vacated by leaving. In the last year alone 350,000 of salary has been saved by attrition. Our company now has work flowing in the doors and no one to do it. – jzahner Jul 18 '13 at 19:16

Suppose your company has 100 employees and the mean salary is 60,000. A ten percent raise all round is a cost of the company in salaries of 6,600,000. a 2% raise is 6,120,000. Which do you think the Finance department is going to let them do?

That said, you have new responsibilities, you might be able to get your boss to offically promote you (getting a new title is key) so that you personally can get a higher raise. But I wouldn't count on it since most of the raise budget for the year will be used up in the raise all around.

And it may be that they will not even give everyone a raise. I know of one place where only those people who had a superior performance rating got raises the first year after their pay freeze ended.

  • I will check in again with the true situation when the new offer is made. – jzahner Jul 18 '13 at 19:31

When the new pay raise is offered in the next couple of weeks, is it reasonable to expect for the pay raise to take the amount of time into consideration? By that I am saying, shouldn't the base raise be at a minimum 10% just for the rate of inflation since mid 2009?

Yes it's reasonable. Is it going to happen? Not bloody likely.

What you should instead look at is salaries for people doing similar work at similar companies in the same area. Salary.com and glassdoor.com (and others) exist for just this purpose. This is what you could be making elsewhere. This is what your company would have to pay your equivalently skilled replacement.

That is the fair market rate for your services. Unless there's non-salary compensation (insurance, PTO) or other things (free beer, saving the world, your wife owns the company) then making significantly less is nothing more than them taking advantage of you.

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