I know someone whose company recently did a "salary evaluation" and provided the results to each of their employees. The salary evaluation stated that this person should be getting paid substantially more than they are currently being paid.

What is the best way for this person to increase their salary to the level that the "salary evaluation" concluded would be appropriate? Should they just bring it up at their next annual review and ask for a raise? It seems unlikely that the company will give this person a 30% raise, despite the fact that the company's own salary evaluation stated that this employee is being underpaid by that much.

Is there likely to be a better option than either: 1) leave the company for a higher paying position elsewhere; 2) stay at the company and continue to be underpaid ?

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    Was this a statistical review of salaries, or a personalized evaluation of role, salary, and performance? I'm curious how the company benefits from telling many people that they're either underpaid or have an unjustified salary - I'd think everyone walks away from this exercise unhappy. Aug 20, 2021 at 18:24
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    Is this person from a group for whom wage discrimination is illegal? Aug 20, 2021 at 19:39
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    @BSMP So far, the company has been just silent on any next steps. This "salary evaluation" happened a couple months ago. I am also confused about why this company would do this -- particularly why they would provide the results to their employees -- if they weren't planning to fix anything. I don't have an explanation for that yet; in fact, part of my reason for asking this question was to see if anyone has encountered this scenario before. It makes sense for the company to figure out who is being underpaid, but it doesn't necessarily make sense to tell those employees they're underpaid.
    – littleO
    Aug 21, 2021 at 2:17
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    @NuclearHoagie I believe this was just a statistical review of salaries -- like, here's what we're paying for this role at our company, and here's what the same role is paid at other companies.
    – littleO
    Aug 21, 2021 at 2:38
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    @littleO That's an important distinction. Finding out that you make 30% less than the average person with the same job title does not necessarily mean that "you should be getting paid more" - you might be getting paid exactly what you're worth. By definition, half of employees make below-median wages. A statistical review of salaries can show you where you fall on the pay scale, but says nothing about where you deserve to be on the pay scale. Agree 30% seems like a big gap that suggests true underpayment, but it may not be as bad as 30%. Aug 22, 2021 at 15:32

2 Answers 2


So...the company said this person should be getting paid more, according to the company's own internal standards? That seems like a pretty perfect argument for this person to go to their manager and/or HR and say "pay me more". Something like this:

I understand we recently had salary evaluations, and my evaluation said I should be paid $X. As you know, I am currently being paid $Y. I'm just wondering if there are any ongoing considerations or processes to have my salary increased to $X, and when can I expect such a raise?

That's all they have to say. Surely, the company, who did the evaluation and constructs the standards, knows about this discrepancy and is already on it. If the person gets a wishy-washy answer like "it's coming, don't worry" with no timelines or anything concrete, they should follow up a few times and press for more concrete information, and if they continue to get wishy-washy answers then they should find another job, because this company isn't accountable, even to their own standards.

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    The language I love here is "When can I expect such a raise?" - It leaves no room for a universe where that raise is not given. It doesn't leave any "outs" for management to dodge that the raise is fully expected. Aug 23, 2021 at 15:47

Frame challenge: this survey does not indicate "what you should be paid".

The question uses phrases that imply a direct and unequal relationship between employee worth and pay, such as "should be getting paid more", "increase salary to the appropriate level", and "underpaid". But the comments on the question reveal that this was simply a statistical review of salaries across the industry, showing what other people in similar job roles make. While this survey shows what you make relative to your peers, it does not reveal what you make relative to your worth - i.e. "what you should be paid".

By definition, half of employees make a below-median salary, but the fact that they make less than average does not by itself indicate that they should be paid any more than they are. A junior or poor-performing employee will have an appropriate salary at the low end of the pay scale. A useless employee isn't worth paying even 50% of the market rate. A superstar employee might be in the top 10% of salaries, and still deserve a pay raise.

While a gap as large as 30% suggests that the employee may well be underpaid relative to their worth, it does not necessarily mean that person could or should command a 30% higher salary for the work they produce. Getting a 30% raise would be a big bump in pay - it's unlikely the employee could achieve that in-house. If they're really worth 30% more than they're being paid, they should find a job elsewhere. But keep in mind that this survey is no indication that this particular person with this particular skill set and experience could actually achieve 30% higher pay anywhere.

  • This is the right answer, and this explains as well the oddities of the story.
    – justhalf
    Aug 24, 2021 at 17:58

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