Motivating Employees and Negotiating Salary:


This post is going to cover multiple but related topics. While at lunch I was speaking with a work friend and asked her what she thinks I should write about today. She said “How to ask for more money when applying for jobs.” The statement reminded me of an article that basically said companies should pay people what they are currently worth in the market not offer salaries based on what the person earned in the past. The second thing that came to mind was how do companies motivate their employees. In my mind these topics are interrelated.

A coworker at my previous job once said to me “people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.” I had to stop and think about this for a minute or two before I realized that for the most part I agree with this statement. Most people I know keep doing the same kind of work as always, just at another company. This would say that the employee likes or is willing to do the work, but something in the environment is not satisfactory for them.  

If you like the job you do what motivates you to stay with your employer? What makes you happy? What makes you feel valued? These are questions that managers should ask and have a reasonable answer to. Recently during a mid-year review my manager said “I don’t know what motivates you.” I responded, “I am motivated by autonomy and the ability to pick my own projects.” It is good he asked but clearly, he did not listen.

Two weeks later I am put on a team that has little to no autonomy and is very rigid. I am not sure what is more aggravating, the fact that he asked and did the exact opposite, or the fact that the rules established are so rigid that they actually get in the way of actual work getting done.

I am not the only one frustrated, several people are slipping away from our project. Each week we hear about yet another person leaving, and they are the really talented people too. Some people are going to a sister project at a different company; they are literally doing the exact same work just for different managers.

This is where we loop in the concept of negotiating salaries. I wish I could find the original article so I could link it to you all, but the concept the writer was trying to bring to light is that just because someone made a certain salary in the past it does not mean that is what they should be paid in the future. Pay people what they are worth. If their skills and talents grow, then salary should grow. A person may have been underpaid at their current job, does that mean the new employer should under pay them as well? Money is another type of motivator. A well-compensated employee is more likely to stay with a company especially when combined with other non-tangible motivators, like autonomy and respectful work environments.

Here are some tips on negotiating a salary that you all may have heard about before but are worth saying again.

  1. Do your research, know what the industry pays for the type of work you are doing in the area you want to do it in. Glassdoor is one good place to look for salary information but there are other web pages you can look at. If you know the average it is easier to justify your number or on the flip side adjust your expectations.
  2. Do some cost of living evaluations. I mentioned in a previous article that I recently took a job in a bigger city but did not realize how expensive it would be to commute. I knew about the expensive housing and other factors but did not factor in expense I never had before. Had I known I might have asked for a different number.  There are several good cost of living calculators that will tell you how far your money will go if you move from one area to another.

For example, last year I was offered a job that was a good 10K less than the current salary. I asked the potential employer how they arrived at the offer. The reason given was cost of living was supposedly much less where I would be going. My research showed that the cost of living was only 3% less so I would be taking a cut in terms of money and buying power.  Although my current job was about to end, I still kept looking.

  • When negotiating you should not put a number out there until you know the full extend of the job responsibilities. If you ask for an amount and then they put more responsibilities on you later you might end up feeling underpaid and stressed out.

If you are like me and work in an industry that is project driven, you end up moving from one job to another on a regular basis. It is important to know what your skills are worth and look for an environment that will allow you to improve your skills as well as learn new ones. Negotiating salary is just a part of life.

On the other hand, if you work for a company that offers steady work it is important for employers to pay attention to what motivates employees. Well paid, motivated employees will stay with the company long term, offer innovative ideas, and create value.

Join the conversation: What motivates you? What makes you feel valued. Feel free to comment on this post.

Also, if you like this post please click the like button or the follow button (or both).

In the meantime, Happy Budget Tuesday 😊

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