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Are You Overworked but Underpaid? Here’s What You Can Do

Read on to learn the tell-tale signs of being underpaid or unfairly compensated and how you can manage it.

Feeling chronic exhaustion from working overtime for your employer? Or are you always being asked to make decisions way above your pay grade?

Four signs that it’s time for a raise

1. Feeling way more overworked than you should

Getting promoted often means you take on bigger projects or new responsibilities. However, there’s a difference between feeling challenged and being overwhelmed with work with no end in sight.

Working overtime will leave you exhausted. You’ll lose interest in socialising with your friends and family. No matter how hard you try to keep a positive attitude, feeling underpaid and overworked will negatively impact your performance and mental health. 

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2. Your salary is not aligned with your personal and professional goals

You might be underpaid if your salary is not enough to sustain even your basic needs and professional growth. 

We all have fixed expenditures such as rental, food, transport, phone and electricity bills. On top of that, you also need health insurance and dental visits. If you are a parent, your child’s education or enrichment classes are also substantial expenses.

Besides budgeting for the essentials, your income should be able to meet extra expenses such as leisure travel or dining at fancier restaurants for special occasions. These expenses are necessary for work-life balance and to help relieve work stress.

You may also want to spend some money attending professional courses in your own time to upskill and increase your chances of getting a job promotion.

These expenses add up to quite a hefty amount. When you find yourself frequently turning down dinner invites from friends of the same age and work industry, or cutting down on travel and outings with your family, you may be underpaid for your contributions.

3. By talking to an expert

Talking about salary can be a tricky and stressful topic. Discussing it with an independent career expert like a recruitment consultant or career coach can help to clear the air.

These experts will have the latest job market insights and in-depth knowledge to help you evaluate if you are fairly paid based on your skills, experience and market rates. If salary is your top priority, they can also recommend companies known to be good paymasters.

4. By consulting your social and professional network

A quick search for a job role and company on Glassdoor can offer some insights into the salary structure, culture and work experiences of previous and existing employees. You’ll get an idea of the typical salary offered based on your specific industry. Remember to filter the results to the country in which you work, as salary comparisons may not be accurate across differing tax and salary systems.

Confiding in those whom you know and trust can be helpful when it comes to obtaining different perspectives on salary and compensation packages.

If you have maintained good relationships with former bosses or colleagues, you could reach out and ask about their current hiring practices and how much they pay their employees. When connecting with your network to ask about salary, do provide a heads-up. Don’t just jump into the topic without explaining why you want to talk about it since not everyone is open about discussing their finances.

Read More: Salary Guide Singapore 2023: Understand How Much You Should Be Paid

Know your worth

One way to find out your value as an employee is by using a salary calculator. This tool often uses real-time market data to benchmark your pay against peers in the same function and industry with similar professional experience and skills. This can inform you of the average wage you should receive for your current role and remit based on prevailing market benchmarks.

Knowing how much you should be compensated for your skills, responsibilities and experience level is important in helping you determine if you are being underpaid or getting the expected market average for your role.

Real-time and accurate market salary data is good evidence that you can use to support your claims that you’re underpaid and deserve more remuneration for the work that you’re doing.

Various online tools can help you determine where you stand in terms of pay, work responsibilities and talent demand. One example is the salary comparison tool by the Ministry of Manpower, designed from the official salary data in Singapore. Tools such as the Randstad Salary Calculator also use market data to help you compare your salary with average rates based on your skills and experience.

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Ask for fair compensation from your employer.

If you haven’t had any increase in compensation for a long time or even a salary conversation with your manager, here’s how you can negotiate for fair compensation:

1. Prepare your new salary expectations

Before the discussion, you should already have a clear salary range based on the research on your expertise and workload. Be honest and realistic with yourself and consider the following questions:

  • What is the new minimum salary that you’re willing to accept?
  • Are you prepared to walk away and search for a new employer?
  • Which number should you start with during the negotiation process?
  • How do you think your hiring manager will react to that figure?

2. Prove your worth with your past work contributions

You cannot simply ask for a pay raise without anything to show. For successful salary negotiation, demonstrate your value to the company by presenting examples of your strong performance, clearly highlighting quantitative achievements and how they have improved productivity or revenue growth.

You should also mention your plans for the next six to 12 months to show your commitment to your job and intention to grow within the company.

It’s important to plan a negotiation strategy and consider all your options to boost your chances of getting that pay raise.

3. Be prepared to negotiate

Even if your manager does increase your salary, it may not be high enough to meet your salary expectations if the company is tight on budget.

If so, ask about other options. You might be able to negotiate benefits such as overtime transport allowance, hybrid or remote work, or a more manageable workload.

You should also follow up closely with your manager on the company’s next salary adjustment cycle. These usually happen around three months before the end of the financial year, so be sure to set up a meeting with your manager to discuss your salary outlook for the following year. 

4. If necessary, be ready to quit

Many people stay in jobs they don’t like due to the perceived uncertainty of making a job switch. They might fear not having another job lined up after resignation or not having enough savings to tide through the job-searching period. Others may be afraid of facing the same situation in another company and would rather not risk their job security.

However, sometimes a change may be what you need. 

Author and motivational speaker T. Harv Eker once said, “Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don’t let these feelings stop them.” If you seek progress, perhaps it’s time to leave your comfort zone and pursue a more fulfilling career.

Ultimately, the decision to change jobs should be based on what is best for you and your career. If you find your job satisfaction declining, it’s time to explore new options. And even if you feel negatively about your current employer, remember to leave on good terms. 

This article is contributed by Randstad Singapore.

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