Life & Work

Talent retention when pay increase offer is not enough


The economic uncertainty has complicated how human resource (HR) managers retain talent. Years ago, to hang on to good talent, most organisations would give substantial amounts of money and promotions to would-be-resigners.

However, counter-offers for those threatening to leave are becoming fewer and several organisations are losing their best talents to those that can pay more salaries and offer better perks.

Should money be returned to the negotiation table to ensure the best employees stay put and in the long term help reduce training costs for recruits? While counter-offers tend to work for a handful of employees, HR experts explain that salary increments to would-be resigners have their pros and cons.

Oliver Tambo, a HR practitioner, notes that for a leaving employee there are a myriad of challenges that even salary raise cannot sort out.“If an organisation’s culture is not favourable, then a salary discussion will not make an employee stay,” he explains.

Key motivators

Work-life balance and how the job blends into the future goals of an employee have become key motivators than even a salary adjustment. For HR managers, if the employee’s skills are a critical resource to the organisation then salary negotiations makes sense.

Usually, an employer evaluates the cost of hiring another person to match up the skills and productivity levels of the employee resigning and the time it will take them to grasp the work before choosing to increase the salary.

Money is a factor that makes many employees want to leave their job. However, critics hold that the salary talk should not be held with every employee who wants to leave. Mr Tambo says that always calling resigners to the salary negotiation table would be detrimental to the growth of an organisation.

“At the end of the day, word will go round and then all employees will flock at the HR office requesting for an increase,” he says.

In contrast, when an employer agrees to increase the employee’s salary, the latter might enquire why the offer was not given at entry level.

With this in mind, Mr Tambo explains that readjusting one’s salary does not mean they were being paid low initially or that the company valued them any lesser but it is simply the market level adjustments.

Market visibility helps organisations know what amount of money is being paid for certain roles. “If one company’s turnover is, say, Sh1 million while another is Sh1 billion, the two companies will not pay the same for, say, a managerial role,” he argues.

As much as some employees may feel entitled to a salary increment, Caroline Njoroge, a HR practioner and career coach mentions that exit threats set a bad precedence to other employees.

Though there is no problem in asking for a pay rise, how the employee communicates dictates how the employer reacts. So which are the grounds for asking for a pay rise?

“Starting the letter by thanking the employer for the opportunity to work then stating why you would want a pay rise shows respect and professionalism,” she says.

Furthermore, salary increase discussions should be inferred when more duties have been added, when the salary given is below the industry level and when it has not been increased in a long time.

Nevertheless, even before an employee asks for a raise, they should do their due diligence by checking whether the company they are working in is doing well financially. This prompts them to have an informed decision when approaching their employer.

Based on the response obtained from the request given, then the employee can choose the best cause of action. Although salary increment is a gradual process as organisations have structures that dictate how employees get higher pay, a promise on increment should be documented.

Toxic workplace

“Disclosing to your current employer that you have secured another job with a higher salary is not ideal. More often than not this serves as blackmail,” she says.

Additionally, Mrs Njoroge advises that organisations should be reviewing their employees’ salaries annually to cater to the inflation levels and while at it also adding more responsibilities so that the employees can grow.

“Promotions should always accompany salary increases,” she says. Despite the belief that money sits at the centre of the salary increment negotiation table, Mrs Njoroge notes that some employees are now choosing their mental health and keeping off toxic work environments over good salaries.

“A conducive environment spearheads money with the latter not being the ultimate reward,” Mr Tambo echoes. However, in the 21st century millennials have shifted how the workplace operates even as they are constantly referred to as ‘carefree.’

Mrs Njoroge attributes their style to wanting to be involved in decision-making without feeling like robots that are dictated on what to do. Furthermore, their quench for feeling challenged in their roles makes them change the culture that has been there in the job market.

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