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I have a suspicion that my boss finds me more valuable than he lets on. I can see why he'd want to do this, to avoid giving me a raise, bonuses or extra holiday. But I would like to know how much they value me, so I can try to negotiate for these things.

How can I go about figuring this out?

  • Do you receive any formal evaluations and are those designed to determine raises and/or bonuses? – user8365 Jan 27 '14 at 17:05
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Test the waters of the job market. See what your fair value is there. Negotiate with your bosses to see how much they are willing to pay to not lose you to that job.

Test the Waters

How much are you worth on the open market? If you don't know that, then you can't know how much your boss values you compared to what you're worth, only compared to what you're making now. And that isn't very useful information, because it doesn't tell you if your boss actually values you, only how badly he may be undervaluing you currently.

Negotiate

Once you know how much someone else is willing to pay, you can start negotiating with your bosses. If you know you have an offer waiting for 130% of your current salary, it is a lot easier to walk in and say, "I would like to discuss my salary, I think I am being underpaid." Something like:

Over the past year I have accomplished A, B, and C. On the open market these skills are very much in demand, and I hope that we can negotiate a pay increase in line with my contributions.

If you are really interested in seeing how much your company values you next to the market, you can be a bit more blunt and say:

Over the past year I have accomplished A, B, and C. I have recently been offered a position paying X, much more than my current salary. I would like to stay here, but that is a significant gap in earning potential. What can we do about this?

Be Prepared to Walk

If you aren't willing to leave your job over money, then you shouldn't have the discussion. At the end of the day if your company says, "We value you at Y" which is dramatically less than the X you were offered on the open market, then you are going to lose happiness in your current job as you know you are being paid less than you're worth.

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    "If you aren't willing to leave your job over money, then you shouldn't have the discussion" - absolutely spot on. You need to be able to "call their bluff" (horrible phrase I know, but true). I have worked with managers who have openly said that they only way to increase your renumeration is to move jobs. For some strange reason, some companies will always pay new starters more than existing, experienced staff. I've always found that counter-intuitive but I suppose human nature sees "new broom, new ideas, untarnished by previous projects at the company" – Mike Jan 27 '14 at 9:35
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    @Mike it is more like simple ecomonics. I have 50 new hires in a year vice 1000 current employees. It is cheaper to pay the new guys more than give large raises to everyone. But the money will be found to give larger raises to some. Unfortunately it is hard to know who until you ask or give notice. If you don't ask you won't get. One big mistake people make is they take on new responsibilities and then don't ask for the commensurate pay raise. – HLGEM Jan 27 '14 at 20:33
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Quite simply, you're going to have to do two related things:

  1. Check salary ranges for similar positions/responsibilities in your locale. Some of this data is public, but you may have to ask around so that you're comparing apples to apples.
  2. You're going to have to look for a new job and get an offer and negotiate. That gives you a few data points about you specifically.

Next is the trickier part. You will have to build a case to your boss that you are worth more than they are paying you now. For example, you may have to list out your accomplishments over the last year or two, and you can point him/her to salary studies as well. In other words, tell him you could tell him that you want to stay, and you feel you are adding value to the organization, and that you feel that you can get more on the open market. The best time to do this is during your annual review(s), as that's when your performance is top-of-mind.

Lastly, you need to really ask yourself, how important/fair your pay is to your efforts and value? If it is important and you feel under valued, then you need to be prepared to quit, and start developing your plan B - preferably, you need a job offer that you are happy with in hand.

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