My last 2 jobs have been in very large companies. As many large companies, they have a very developed and structured set of compensation policies, especially for those employes below manager; for example, on my last job there was no way you could get more than an annual 5% raise and the company where I work in now has an annual appraisal system where you can get more than that, but even if you do really good you can't get more than 8-9%.

On my last job I approached my manager explaining to him that the work load and my responsibilities had increased a lot since I started working for the company. He said he completely understood but company policies wouldn't let him give me a raise and the only available option was to promote me.

Since the position didn't exist I couldn't be promoted. This, of course, lead me to look for a new job and get out of there. I honestly liked the company and apart from that issue everything was good. I can say the same about my current company; it is a great place to work, but I'm not sure the "growth" policies are good.

Is there an effective way to deal with these kind of situations where "company policies" get in the way of you getting a raise? How should one deal with this type of company? I don't want to jump from one company to another when I'm comfortable just because of this issue.

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    If your boss had wanted to keep you and had wanted to give you more money, he would have created the new postion description and pushed it through HR. If there were budget constraints this year, he would have told you that he would work towards creating a new postion for you but that it would not take affect until the next budget year. He was betting that you wouldn't leave.
    – HLGEM
    Aug 24, 2012 at 17:20
  • he kinda told me that, since the position didn't exist he had to create one but it would take a considerable amount of time.
    – user1544
    Aug 24, 2012 at 17:25
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    Are you saying that you feel that you consistently deserve over 8% raises year after year? Perhaps you are over valuating yourself. Typically anything over 3% is a sign of a company and manager that appeciates you and that alone would be an awful reason to leave a company. I used to think like you, but after jumping from a decent job to an abysmal nightmare to something yet worse than that I realized that the size of a raise one year is an awful reason to leave a company that you are otherwise happy at. Aug 24, 2012 at 18:52
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    @maple_shaft- I agree with avoiding the 'grass is always greener' approach, but when a manager thinks you deserve a raise, the money is there, but he can't get off his ass to make it happen, there are other problems.
    – user8365
    Aug 25, 2012 at 21:11
  • @maple_shaft I think it depends where you live, in my country we have a 5% inflation per year, so with a 3% you would actually be making less, also they salaries are horrible they are nothing compared to salaries of developed countries
    – user1544
    Oct 9, 2012 at 20:37

5 Answers 5


Understand that "company policy" is simply what the company decided to do. Even if your manager wants to give you more, your company does not.

Is there a difference whether I decide to kick you, or whether I say that I have a "policy" to kick you (considering I made that policy myself)? Both cases are the same -- I have decided to kick you; with a policy or without, why should that matter to you? You have the same right to be angry at me for kicking you in both cases. You should not accept my "policy" as something that somehow excuses my decision to kick you. Because if you do... well, you just encourage me to create more "policies" to back my unpleasant behavior.

You want more money. Your company does not want to give you as much as you want. These are the hard facts. -- Focus on them, ignore the excuses.

Of course you need to think about other facts as well, such as: what is your chance of getting the money you want in a different company; what other things you might gain or lose when changing jobs, etc. Maybe, all things considered, it is better for you to stay and accept your company's decision.

Just understand that it was a company decision to make such policy, and also to refuse to make an exception for you. The "policy" is just a stupid excuse which should not matter to you. Do they want to play such games? Well, you can't stop them, can you? And it's obvious why having such "policy" is convenient for them. Just understand that it's a game, a game they decided to play, nothing more.


You cannot "deal" with these types of companies. Anything over a 3% increase is generally considered a "good" raise (at least in the US). If it is company policy to hand out a maximum of X% for annual raises, that is more than likely outlined in their company policies, a document which you should have read and probably signed when you were hired. If you do not agree with the company policy, you should look elsewhere. They are running a business, and they allot $X for salaries. Special treatment with regards to salary, especially in large companies, is rare.

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    correct. In most companies here, getting anything over 1-2% a year without an internal promotion to a higher tier job (which almost always means management level) is exceedingly rare. Ergo, to get more than that, to even get compensation for inflation levels, you have to change jobs, period.
    – jwenting
    Oct 10, 2012 at 6:26

Is there an effective way to deal with these kind of situations where "company policies" get in the way of you getting a raise?

Not really.

As with all business, exceptions are made for essential needs but someone has to say "look, rvs is a vital person in our business. I am the boss, and I'm telling you to do whatever it takes to keep them". That pretty much only happens for somewhat rank and file employees when social means have caused someone to call in a favor.

Personally, I like to think that the continual out-pouring of talent from businesses with these policies will have some darwinian effect on their market share. That though isn't prompt, or necessarily guaranteed.

How should one deal with this type of company?

Punish them for their idiocy. Even if you do stay, do you want to stay with the people who are okay only getting a 3% raise? Or worse, are only worth a cost of living increase year in and year out?

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    Until you have left a job for one where the bosses were verbally abusive, threatened layoffs, required 12+ hour days and gave no raises + raised employee benefit contributions year after year... you wouldn't be so quick to judge those of us who are highly appreciative of a company that ritually gives out 3% or more. Aug 24, 2012 at 19:02
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    @maple_shaft Maybe so. I've seen enough salary spreadsheets and worked for 10 years at ~60-80% market rates, so I might be more... let's say sensitive to how little companies regard competitive compensation without forceful prompting.
    – Telastyn
    Aug 24, 2012 at 19:34
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    Those sites that show market rates usually take into account the cost of employer provided benefits as well. Technically I am underpaid in my area too, but I also have 22 days of PTO per year that I have the option to sell back for extra cash. My health insurance is also top shelf and I pay almost nothing out of pocket for it. The costs and benefits of a job have far more to do with how much you are being paid. Aug 24, 2012 at 19:41
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    @maple_shaft totally. But I also managed to increase PTO, medical and real salary substantially twice, simply by testing the market. This story is not unique amongst many of my peers. Antecdotal of course, and really you make a good point about total compensation.
    – Telastyn
    Aug 24, 2012 at 19:56
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    You make a good point as well about testing the market, at least for juniors in software development. We live in a world of 25 year old "Senior" developers and where it is not uncommon for one to double their salary after only 4 years in the job market. For better or worse when you start pushing 30 like myself then that career pay ceiling starts getting a LOT closer then you are not concerned with things like raises quite as much as you used to be. I am at a point in my life where I want quality of life > money as I become more concerned with starting a family. Aug 24, 2012 at 20:03

Is there an effective way to deal with these kind of situations where "company policies" get in the way of you getting a raise?

No. In large companies, these policies are always concocted by people far distant from the front lines. Neither you nor your boss will be able to change them. The closest you might get will be to redefine your job with a new title. This is why many companies have job titles like "Business Analyst 3" so as to provide different pay bands for different levels of skill/talent/ability.

In the case of my current employer [1], the only way to get more than a 3% raise was to quit and then get rehired. This was something done by most of the developers here. In my case, the pointy haired boss liked to lowball new hires [2], knowing full well that raises were almost impossible to get [3]. Quitting to work as a contractor yielded a $30k/year raise for myself [4].

These policies lead to people whining "we can't get qualified people" [5]. They are really saying "we can't get people to work at the wage we are willing to pay" [6]. There is really nothing that you, or your boss, can do to change the policies, so you'll have to vote with your feet. Or decide that there are more important things than money [7].

In some cases, the appeal to remote authority (perhaps a "policy" or "mean" executive) is a way for your boss to say "no" without sounding "mean" to you [8]. The only way to deal with this situation is to always be ready to move on.

1 - It is a privately owned company in the Fortune 500.
2 - Married new hires would automatically get $10k/year more than an equally qualified single worker.
3 - Unless there was a policy that year saying "people getting more than $X don't get raises this year", then everyone would get a 3% raise. Even people about to be fired for cause would get 2% raises.
4 - When hired back, I didn't get to stay at the new level, but basically I get about $20k/year more than I did when quitting about 1 year previously.
5 - Our office makes products that need lots of business domain knowledge. Even after "bridging" (where my absense was ignored/bridged to be the same [for some benefits] as if I never left, at "6 years" I am the lowest "seniority" person in this office. Many people have been working for this corporation for up to 19 years. They knew I left for more money, and with a recent deathmarch, they need folks who know what the product is and what the business is.
6 - Generally, when CEOs whine about a perceived shortage of talent, they are lobbying the government to save the businesses from the free market; they want talent but without paying the market wages for such talent.
7 - In one co-worker's case, he values time off more than high wages, even though he is the highest paid developer here.
8 - In the worst cases, this sort of appeal is done because the boss does not like filling out the paperwork and uses this as an excuse to avoid work.


The question is how hard are you willing to push the envelope?

If you really want to fight it, you can climb up the ladder and meet with higher managers until you get to the one who is responsible for the final "OK" on company policy (usually the C.E.O.). However, understand that you risk putting a negative image on yourself if things don't turn out well. Note that the higher up you go, the more resistance you will face with both getting an answer and being able to see the next person.

Be prepared to back up your stance on why you deserve the raise. Having an additional workload over other employees only swings in your favor if there are other employees who cannot do what you do. If they are capable of finding someone else to take the workload, they generally won't care if you think you deserve a raise. However, if the work includes tasks that only YOU are capable of doing, you have a higher value, thus a higher probability of getting a higher raise through requesting it.

If you're just another cog performing the task that you were hired to do and you bring no extra value that produces additional profit above and beyond what the position entails, sit down and accept what most would consider a "very gracious" raise.

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