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My employer is cheap and always brings up the same reason, "No budget", when it comes to spending money regardless of whether there is money or not. I received the same response during my annual performance review when talking about raise. I was picking up extra work lately to compensate for few employees who left the company. Long story short, the conversation got really awkward when the employer didn't want to compensate me for the extra work, but merely saying, "We really appreciate all your hard work", and that's it. There were long awkward silence at the end (it was a telephone conversation) and we ended the call.

Half an hour later, I received a call back stating they are willing to give me the raise. Situation is taken cared of. BUT now I realized that they really don't care about the extra work I do and merely trying to protect their interest since I had to snatch the raise from them. They agreed to pay the raise since they can't afford another employee bailing the ship.

How do I interact with this employer moving forward? I am in the process of job hunting. Just trying to figure out how to accommodate the daily interactions during the interim.

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    Are you hoping for an answer beyond "look for a new job"? – Tashus Jan 6 at 19:48
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    This is how most of the negotiations go. Be glad that your employer made an attempt to retain you. Not many are that lucky. – Sara Jan 6 at 20:10
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    @y2k also, do not get emotional with your job. It is not your duty to look for your backup. The company have a good thought about it and hence your hike was approved. This is acceptable in the corporate world. Do not over think about this incident. Be proud of your negotiation skills. It worked in your favor. What else can you ask for? – Sara Jan 6 at 20:32
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    And you got the raise within half an hour of your negotiation. That is something. I have seen meetings that spread for about 2 weeks for retaining an employee, and that too with a good hike. – Sara Jan 6 at 20:34
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    Considering the number of questions on here with people expressing concern over raise promises or discussions about raises stretching for months or years, I'd say 30 minutes is pretty quick. And, they actually said out loud that they appreciate your work. You can choose to believe them or not, and I don't want to sound like I'm wagging my finger at you, but you've come out of this with a pretty good result. – dwizum Jan 6 at 20:36
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Sounds like you dealt with it just fine.

You asked for more money and got it.

Every employer/employee relationship is the same: The employer wants to pay the employee as little as possible and the employee wants to be paid as much as possible as the employer.

You simply told them that your current salary was not as little as possible to retain you, and they agreed.

There will NEVER be a situation where you're making $100,000 then ask for a 2% raise, and the employer will say "Oh, that's not enough, take 10%".

If they were real cheapskates, they would have stone-walled you. Instead, they negotiated. Congratulations, you won.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Neo Jan 7 at 17:11
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How do I interact with this employer moving forward?

Act like a professional. Continue to do the work that is assigned to you in a timely manner and treat your co-workers as you normally would. Once have accepted a written offer from another company, hand in your resignation and serve your notice period professionally.

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How do I interact with this employer moving forward?

Graciously say "thank you" the absolute next time you see your boss in person while others are not around. You can even choose to seek him out while they are in their office.

You can try something like:

Hi Boss,

I just wanted to sincerely thank you for recognizing my increased efforts with a raise. I know that money is usually tight but I appreciate that you were able to push this through.

Now continue working as usual. Continue job hunting as well. When the time comes to hand in your resignation there is a professional way to go about that as well.

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While you're getting a lot of good analysis about what has happened to you so far, you specifically asked,

How do I interact with this employer moving forward?

Since you seem to have some legitimate concerns (compensation, workload, risk of working for a small employer) and your employer also seems to be concerned (their tiny company is at risk of folding if you leave) it makes sense to have an explicit conversation about these concerns, instead of being indirect about it.

While it's nice to get a raise now, it's even nicer to have a roadmap for how your concerns will be addressed in the future. So, before you talk to your employer, it makes sense to come up with a list of what your goals and concerns are.

Once you have a list, you can set up some time with your boss to discuss. The key to this conversation is to be specific about your concerns. Often, the awkwardness you and your boss experienced is because people naturally tend to be vague in conversations like this. Your boss saying we really appreciate all your hard work doesn't really change anything, it's not actionable, and it probably doesn't directly reference anything that you care about.

If you want the relationship to change, take some initiative. Put some specific items on the table, and ask your boss to specifically respond. Based on the content of your question, you might try things like,

I'm worried because people have left recently, and that leaves me with a lot of extra work. I don't think I will be effective if I'm constantly working a lot of overtime, and I don't think the company is in a good position. Can you talk to me about your plans for properly handling this workload in the future?

Or,

I'm unhappy because I've made contributions X, Y, and Z recently, but my pay hasn't reflected the value I'm bringing to the table. I don't want to sound like I'm holding you hostage, but I need A, B, and C to change in order for me to feel comfortable staying at this job. Can we work together on a plan to change those things?

Asking for - and even getting - a raise is often not effective in actually solving root problems that are making an employee unhappy at work. You are a perfect example of this - you asked for more money, and you actually got it but you are still so unhappy that you're thinking about leaving. If the thing that bothered you was the way they handled the process about deciding on your raise, you could bring that up as an issue:

Although I'm grateful at receiving my raise, I felt like we could probably both agree that the process was really awkward and uncomfortable. I'd like to avoid that in the future. Do you think we could talk through what your decision process is for raises? Can we make plans for a regular annual review and come up with some standard way on determining an annual salary increase?

The key in all these suggestions is that you are being specific in describing your problem, and you're giving your employer an opportunity to address your actual problem (instead of just awkwardly throwing money at you). You're putting the ball in their court. They can respond, or not. And you can decide if you're happy with the response. And, of course, you can still choose to leave if you're unhappy, but even if you choose to leave, you've at least given them the benefit of the doubt and you've made it clear to everyone that you are not a good fit for their company.

And, as a follow up, any time you're considering leaving a job, you want to make sure you're not going to just jump into the same problem all over again with your new employer. Even if you choose not to talk to your current employer about your issues, it makes sense to spend some time thinking (or even writing) about specifically what made you unhappy. Think through your whole relationship with this employer and see if you can determine the root causes for your unhappiness. Then, consider how you can use that knowledge to evaluate future potential employers.

You may decide that you like working for a larger employer, or one with a certain level of structure. Or, an employer with a lot of depth on a given team, versus a small team. Or, you may decide you need an employer that has a formal, annual evaluation process that is tied to decisions about increases, since that sort of system will remove the ambiguity around raises. Whatever you decide, come up with a list of questions you can ask in interviews, so you can make sure you know whether a given employer fits you needs. This way, you can avoid the disaster of repeatedly jumping ship because you're never happy for the same reasons over and over again.

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    Good points. Thank you so much. – y2k Jan 7 at 18:12
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Look at it from the point of view of your boss. He does have pressure to avoid giving you a higher salary. It does not matter where that pressure came from. He could be the owner of the company and actually really know that he simply cannot afford to pay more without going bankrupt. Or, more likely in your case, he got a budget by his superiour, and must stay within that budget. Or he does not actually have a hard budget, but will get a bonus himself if he manages to keep salary down.

For you, it does not matter at all. When negotiating stuff like this, it is tempting for your boss to talk about his reasons. But for you that is empty talk, it has no meaning. You can never know if it's true or not, or how much leeway your boss has, or whether it can be changed or not. This should not be frustrating for you, this is just the way it is.

The correct way for you to negotiate is to figure out beforehand what your own limits and requirements are. If you end up within your limits (salary > XXX) and with your requirements (working conditions etc.) fulfilled, then you stay. Else you go. As an employee you have no other instrument at your hand; but the beauty is that if the employer is at all interested in you, it is a very mighty instrument indeed.

So, the course of action if you are unhappy is: a) see if you can find a new job which fulfills your requirements or needs better. Even if you don't sign up with them eventually, do yourself the favour and find out if there are better chances out there. If you find none, then that is valuable information as well.

Then, b) think long and hard if the requirements you initially set up for yourself are really worth the hassle of changing the job. This will change a lot depending on how happy you are with the overall experience at your existing company.

Finally, c) if you decide that it's time for a change, simply do it. Sign up with the new company, hand in your resignation with the old, done.

Whatever you do, don't threaten your boss with resigning. Do it, or do it not; the threat is as useless as your boss whining about his budget. Your employer knows that you will go if he cannot get you sufficient terms.

You can of course let him know in a neutral fashion that you need other conditions, but simply put it out there, don't stress it too much. This way, in the event that you find nothing better and stay, you don't burn bridges.

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  • Thanks for all the tips. Really appreciate it, but regarding the reasons you mentioned initially, it's a family owned business, so the boss is the only guy in charge and making the decisions. It's merely one person's decision to give raise or not. And we did make some profit this year from expanding our client base, so it's simply a vague reason of not having budget/money. – y2k Jan 7 at 18:20
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Think twice before jumping ship. If you do, you just let go a bag of money in exchange for another with new risks

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  • Hi! Welcome to the SE. Please can you expand on your answer a bit? – Bee Jan 7 at 14:55

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