My company issued a wage freeze effective 12/1/08 through the duration of 2009. I am due for an increase in the first week of December (this salary action has been planned since Jan08). My salary action has been cancelled.

I have two issues. First, I feel that my performance merits a pay increase. I am a consistent top performer; I have gotten this feedback directly from my manager. Second, I'm concerned about my future in a company that does not reward top performers.

Taking the immediate concern first: 1) How does an effective manager respond to this? 2) How can I approach HR and try to reinstate my pay increase?

This situation was very unexpected and I'm not sure how to move forward.

Thanks in advance (and sorry for long post).

US41's picture

Pursue this with your boss and no further. If your boss is not willing to fight for it for you, you will not succeed. No matter who you talk to or contact, they will come back to your boss and ask them if you deserve an increase while everyone else gets nothing - including himself. If your boss demurs even a tiny bit, the whole operation is over.

You can prepare a manager tools style annual review for yourself. Left column with positives from the previous year, right column with things that weren't so great, and a bottom section with future development. Put it all on one page. Using MT objectives in the past tense to create accomplishments that are brief and blunt. Review it with your boss, and say, "I think I deserve a pay increase despite the wage freeze. Would you be willing to pursue this for me with the company?"

If he responds with a pause, a sigh, laughter, a chuckle, a deep breath, or stares at you for a moment - any behavior that gives you the impression he's not 100% with you, you're done talking about the pay increase. It won't happen.

Pay increases are not entitlements. They are a tool managers have to encourage top performers to stay and people who are developing to continue to develop. Expecting to receive one after a good year when the company is suffering might give the wrong impression if the company is in more trouble than you are aware.

bug_girl's picture

It could be worse--we are looking at a 15% budget cut for 2009.

The last time this happened, we had an across the board 1% cut in pay.

US41 is right--pursue it, but try to see that the company may have bigger issues than your one salary.

HMac's picture

[quote="208001354"]This situation was very unexpected and I'm not sure how to move forward.[/quote]

I'm sorry to hear about this - I'm sure it's a genuine disappointment.

That said, I will argue that you do nothing.

Although 41 lays out a professional and thoughtful way forward, I'd only caution you that there's a risk of looking quite selfish, because ulitmately, you're aksing for something that nobody else is getting (not even your boss). So there's some risk in appearing to your boss that you're "not on the team" if you're asking for a personal exception, no matter how much you think it's deserved.

I would definitely bring it up with my boss, but I wouldn't go further than to express my disappointment, and ensure that the boss knows that I know that I'm being told to sacrifice (and that I'm willing to "take one for the team").

THEN - re-evaluate your company in light of the new economy. Is it viable? Do you think it's "racing" or "chasing" it's way through to ensure profitability? Take stock of your sitauation, and consider the possibility that your company's best days are behind them. And if that's a possibility, then you need to quietly and professionally look for alternatives.


thaGUma's picture

Dont lose sight that this is a temporary state of affairs and your action during this period can impact greatly on your future career. Go with the flow. Everyone is busy getting ready for the next year or two of contraction.

Recognise this as part of the current economic system and graciously accept the freeze. Your company believes this is the way forward in the short term. You may find another employer has less of a need to freeze wages. I would however be careful about movin to a new company where you may find yourself in a weaker position in the short term.

Concentrate instead on what you can contribute. Ideas. One collegue in my last employ (currently facing 18% pay cuts) is engineering his schedule to allow him to work from home for two days. He benefits from saving commuting costs for those two days while the company has a reduced expense bill as he organises meetings and site visits to those places closer to his home on those two days.


AManagerTool's picture

Seriously? Wage freeze? Have you been reading the news lately?

This is going to sound harsh but consider yourself lucky that it's not a layoff.

jhack's picture

The current economic crisis is real, and expect to see things get worse before they get better.

HR will not help you.

In the conversation with your boss, show a willingness to defer (not cancel) your increase. Keep the expectation that your performance baseline is higher than your actual pay. Do a great job, and then when the recession ends (it will end), you can discuss both reinstating the deferred increase and making adjustments from there.


TomW's picture
Training Badge

As many others have pointed out: be happy you have a job. Making an issue of it right now may just make you a target if the company decides that wage freezes are not enough and they need to start laying people off.