Blog Post

Dear ReWorker: I Haven't Had a Raise in Five Years

Suzanne Lucas

Founder, Evil HR Lady

Dear ReWorker,

My husband has been working for the same company for over 25 years. None of the employees, including my husband, have received a raise in the last five years. The owner of the company keeps telling the workers the company isn't making any money; however, the employees have watched this same owner drive up in a brand new pickup truck, towing a brand new boat that he boasted about paying for with cash. This is the same owner who continually questions the morale of the company.

What can my husband do in this situation? And, what type of advice would you have for this employer?


Getting Impatient


Dear Getting Impatient,

Your husband should brush up his resume, find a new job and quit. In that order. An owner that hasn't offered a raise in five years, complains about a lack of money while showing off his expensive purchases and can't see that his actions are causing low morale isn't likely to change.

Now, of course, I should ask if your husband has asked for a raise in the past five years. If he hasn't, he should ask. The exception to this is if your husband is at the top of the pay scale for his profession and wouldn't be able to make more money anywhere else. Salaries should be based on market rates, and if you're already at the top of the market, you aren't going anywhere.

The owner of this business sees himself as doing a favor to the employees—isn't it great that I gave you a job out of the goodness of my heart? Now, I'm all for small business owners, and I understand that they take risks, but they aren't doing it out of "goodness." They do it because it's the best way to be profitable. Your husband's boss wouldn't have his new truck and new boat without his employees. Yes, he provides them with jobs, but they help his company prosper.

It might be scary to go out and look for a new job—after all, he's been there 25 years, and the devil you know is often better than the devil you don't. But, most companies are happy to have good workers and want to reward them. Looking won't cost him anything and if he doesn't find anything better, he should stay.

As for advice for the owner—he's not writing me, but I'm always happy to give advice. I'd tell the owner to make sure to give his employees raises—there's little doubt that salaries should have been bumped up at least for cost of living over the past five years. The second thing I'd tell him to do is have his finances evaluated by a professional. Now, maybe he has a wife who paid for the new truck and boat and the business is struggling, but if he is paying for that with money the business earns, he needs an expert to take a look at his books.

Why? By not investing in his employees, he's not investing in his business. Your husband probably isn't the only person considering leaving after being treated like that. Turnover is incredibly expensive—probably more expensive than his fancy new boat. It's not going to be so cheap to replace someone with 25 years of experience.

Overall, he's making bad decisions based on short-term pleasure, and that's going to come back to bite him.

Your ReWorker,

Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady

Photo: Creative Commons

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