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I've been at my job for about 3 years now. My employer gave me a decent starting salary and an excellent signing bonus plus moving expenses. They also gave me restricted stock units (RSUs) that vest over 4 years, currently worth about 10% of my salary every year.

However, my employer is also very tight with raises. Despite all indications that I am doing a good job, I have only received one raise of 10% just recently (technically two raises in quick succession: 5% for exceptional performance and 5% for being promoted). In about a year, I'll receive my last vesting of RSUs, after which point my salary will effectively revert to my starting salary (+ 10% raise – 10% exhausted RSUs).

Is it fair and will it be a persuasive argument to point out that my effective salary increased for a few years (after the raise but before RSUs were exhausted) and then decreased back to my starting salary, thus my salary should be increased to compensate?

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    What about asking for your stock grant to be refreshed? – aroth Apr 21 '14 at 0:35
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    @JoeStrazzere Hopefully my employer will understand that being told I'm doing a great job while my salary is stagnant (just like those doing an average job) is demotivating and want to rectify that. – Craig W Apr 21 '14 at 1:00
  • @aroth Great idea, I would prefer the regularity of a raise but this is a nice backup to ask for. – Craig W Apr 21 '14 at 1:01
  • Is it "Fair" is off topic. We do not deal with judgements on fairness. We can help you find a solution to a problem but not judge the solution you have come up with. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 21 '14 at 15:16
  • Not that it helps, but to put this in perspective, I took a job in 1999 at the end of the bubble. I received a large number of stock options that went from being worth upwards of $100k to worthless all before I could exercise even one. Additionally we had pay freezes and had our bonus plan converted to more worthless stock options. In the years that I did receive a raise it was never more than 3%. There were 2 years with no raise. I had taken a pay cut to go there, partially offset by the bonus plan and promise of stock options. – Bill Leeper Apr 21 '14 at 15:18
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Every situation is unique, but a 10% raise is very good. Where I work, the use of RSUs for compensation is used for retention of workers that policy or pay scales may not allow for the raise the management team wanted to offer. They are also used in initial offers as a way to help entice an employee over as well as give them some stake in the company.

You need to start seeing these types of things as gravy and not as part of your core compensation though.

RSU, bonuses, and stock options are tools that employers can use to compensate employees in addition to their base pay. However, you indicated you received a very good pay increase, so I seriously doubt they will take kindly to you putting your hand out again.

Look at the performance of your company. Typically companies will pull back on bonuses of all kinds when revenues, income, or stock price are down.

If things are looking good and you really want RSUs you may need to convey to your manager at your annual review that you prefer this type of compensation over salary, however, in the long run salary is usually better to have that stock. Salaries rarely go down (unless you get laid off) and they are the basis for a lot of other things, ranging from future raises, to retirement matching, etc.

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