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How to Cope When You Are Uptitled or Promoted With No Extra Pay

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Headless salaryman sculptureI’ve mentioned uptitiling on this blog before, in the context of bosses or companies giving their employees inflated job titles to make them feel more important rather than give them a raise. Recently, I’ve become aware that some companies are not just boosting their employee’s titles, but also their workload and still won’t give them any extra money despite the fact they are now taking on additional responsibilities!

Now I can see this from both an employee’s and and an employer’s point of view. As an employee, why the hell should you take a promotion if all it means is more work and responsibility for the same salary? Then again, employers might still be feeling the pinch, there genuinely might not be enough money in the corporate kitty to support an increased wage bill. So how to figure out a solution where both parties end up — if not exactly happy — at least prepared to carry on working together?

Know your worth
Even if yo have been with the same firm for your entire career, you should still be aware of the salary that people wit the same skill set and level of experience can command at other companies. Now, if you are above the average, when you are offered the promotion, smile, say thank you and skip to the next parts of this posts. If you can check on average salaries, so can your boss, and they will not be amused that their already well-paid employee is pushing for yet more money. At least, not immediately. If, on the other hand, you are below average for your industry, you may have a bit of room to manoeuvre.

Set boundaries
While bosses might see cutting down on the number of bodies in the office as a necessary evil, their efficiency drive will have real consequences. As companies have been downsizing and “streamlining” their operations, employees may find themselves carrying out not only their usual duties, but also those that were previously carried out by somebody else. If you find yourself being uptitled and hear words to the effect of “We thought you might like to take on Bob’s old role,” prepare to ask a couple of tough questions? What was Bob’s exact job description? Should you focus on that now, or are you also expected to continue your old duties? Can you fob off some of your minor tasks on somebody lower down the food chain, now that you are being promoted? And the one thing you must always, always remember: if you duties change significantly, make sure you ask for a new job contract with a new job description outlining your new duties. This way, everybody knows what is expected, and you can get on with your new duties without worrying about any unwelcome surprises further down the road.

It doesn’t hurt to ask
Now, while there may not be money for the kind of raise you were hoping for on the table, there might be something. If you can’t get bumped up to a higher pay grade on a permanent basis, perhaps you could ask for a discretionary bonus, to reflect your increased responsibilities. This could come at your annual appraisal or at the end of the year, but would be a one-off payment, and would be cheaper to your bosses than a permanent salary boost. Don’t be afraid to ask. The worst that could happen is that the boss will say no.

Alternatives to increased pay
Even if your boss still says there is absolutely no money available for your expanded role, there are still other perks that you could score instead. Consider the following:

  • Training Polish your credentials at the company’s expense. Some professional development courses might even be tax deductible! If there’s a course or training scheme that might help out your career in the long term, see if the company would be willing to pay for all of it, chip in, or at least give you time off to attend residential courses. Again, all these options would be cheaper than giving you a permanent pay raise, so it doesn’t hurt to ask. Be warned though: some bosses will have you sign a “golden handcuffs” agreement where you will have to pay back the costs of the courses if you choose to leave the company before a certain time period has elapsed.
  • Flexitime If, having gone over your new duties, you are confident that you will be able to cope with your new workload, see whether you can get the bosses to agree to a schedule that works better for you. Maybe you can come in later on Wednesdays, or work a four-day week in the office if you’re willing to work from home on other days. Perhaps you want to be able to leave early on Fridays because you commute to your country house (you lucky thing!) every weekend. Only you know how much better your working week could be if you could arrange it differently. But as long as you are able to get the job done, you should be able to make a strong case.
  • Leisure time And if you can’t quite bring yourself to ask for that, how about something that, on the face of it, doesn’t cost anything at all? Ask for a couple of extra holiday days per year to be added to your contract. Don’t be greedy! A bump up the ladder doesn’t mean you get an extra month off to go naked water-skiing in Costa Rica; but if you get no holiday entitlement at the moment, ask for at least some. If you only have ten days, ask for fourteen; if you have fourteen, see if the boss will stretch to twenty. At least then you will have more time to recharge your batteries while you are working hard at your new responsibilities.

Ultimately, it is incredibly frustrating to be given a promotion but not see an improvement to their pay packet. But at the same time, there are not a lot of jobs out there at the moment, and unless you work in a highly specialised field, the days when you could walk out of your old job on Thursday and into a new one on Monday are well and truly over for now. So rather than pitching a hissy fit and demanding your dues, it might be best to negotiate as best you can in your current job, learn as much as you can, make sure that all of your achievements are documented for your CV, and prepare yourself for bigger and better things when things do get better.

It’s tough out there right now, for employers and employees alike. That doesn’t mean that increased efforts for employees should go unrecognised, however. Make sure your worth is recognised. It is more expensive to replace you than to negotiate and reach a satisfactory compromise. Can you think of any other ways that you can get extra benefits without getting a pay raise?

[Image by Robert Vega]



  1. Audwina says:

    This happened to me!! Not only was I promoted without any additional pay, but the conversation where this was agreed was so informal that it didn’t occur to me to ask for something in writing to confirm all that had been said.
    There really isn’t enough money in the vault to increase pay across the board and like you say, jobs are scarce so I’ve got no choice but to suck it up for the time being.
    However, when the next appraisal chat rolls around I’ll be sure to ask for any new job descriptions in writing..
    Great post – thank you.

  2. Stephanie Migot says:

    That’s awful! But like I said, it doesn’t necessarily have to be money that you ask for. Good luck with your next appraisal.

  3. Michael says:

    I was promoted a few times without extra pay, it sucks. My manager was demoted and I was essentially told I would be doing his job and managing 5 staff including my old manager and didn’t receive any extra pay. They also put me on call 24/5, didn’t pay overtime or the weekend work my role required and at one point even told us we couldn’t leave the building for lunch breaks as we might miss calls on the emergency line. After about six months of promises of a pay increase I handed in my resignation hoping that I would receive an offer, but the company folded 2 weeks later and I lost all my annual leave and last month of salary not to mention they didn’t pay our superannuation entitlements for 15 months. The owner was using the company money for himself :( Some good tips in the article, thanks.

  4. tony says:

    I have been at the same company for 27 years my fist year there I was asked to be warehouse manager (I was the only employee in warehouse) no pay increase. Now there are 6employees in the warehouse and I have been asking about a raise for 25 years but all I keep hearing from the branch manager is that they will not give an increase because the just will not. I make a good pay check but need to work 12 hours a week in overtime to do so sometime 11-12 hour days. They also changed every warehouse employee to salary????? Any advise. Tony

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