Where’s my pay raise?

Our elder has some advice for a letter writer who’s feeling let down by management at work.


Dear EWC

I wrote to this website when I was in high school and now I’m trying to grow into a mature adult. I’m sorry to be writing this email but I feel angry and upset. It’s probably not a big deal since everyone in a workplace most likely has felt the same. I’m a retail associate and I mainly work in the stockroom. People have quit and half-assed this job. Only a couple of us actually finish our work and try our best to get things done. Our manager noticed that and I’ve only been working there for a couple months now. The management team tends to not care about us, or they aren’t really reliable. Let’s just say management sucks– they’re good people but they suck. 

Our manager told us we were getting raises. Couple days later, he said it was official. So of course, our hard work was paid off and acknowledged, or at least I thought it was. I guess it was my fault for not checking my hourly rate. It’s been months since he told us about our raises and my hourly wage has been the same since the day I was hired. So, I feel so angry and upset. Why tell us we were getting raises? I don’t care if my manager really just wanted to give my best friend the raise – she should get one! But it’s the fact that he told us both. Did he think I wasn’t going to find out or what? So, I feel just used, you know. Yeah, I could quit but it’s such an easy job with a decent pay, just lots of labor, which I don’t mind but why make promises? How do you show your managers you’re not dumb or easily taken advantage of? I feel like I’m an easy target because of course I want to do a good job. I try to be nice to everyone. I thought they actually cared about me. 

Now they are slowly reopening because of Covid and asking me if I want to train for a different position than what I was originally hired for. That’s the thing – if we are trained for multiple things, they don’t give us a pay raise, which I think we should. I’ve worked for a fast-food place before, and if you cook and know how to do drive-through, you get paid more. Also, I’m soft-spoken which is the issue too. Sometimes things that I do want to say never come out of my mouth correctly. So, I don’t know what to do. I want to be professional and have my boundaries set down but I feel like they don’t look at me that way or try to avoid certain things or topics and just make me say yes. Sorry for the long rant. I’m waiting for my friend to check her hourly rate before I go and complain to my managers. I felt like screaming so I needed to type this out to let out some steam. Thank you for reading this.


Willow replies

My name is Elder Willow and I’m a volunteer with the Elder Wisdom Circle. I’m a retired businesswoman with many years of experience ranging from trainee to senior management, and I’d be glad to share my perspective on your letter.

First of all, I don’t blame you for feeling upset about not receiving the raise you were promised. Managers have a responsibility to deliver what they promise or explain if they can’t follow through, and it sounds like your manager has fallen short. It’s very discouraging to feel unappreciated. Lack of appreciation and recognition inevitably leads to declining interest, declining performance and that sense of “why should I bother?” that saps our energy and makes the workday seem endless. It sounds like that’s what you’re experiencing. 

I’m glad that you want to remain professional in spite of the anger you’re feeling. An honest and straightforward conversation about your raise is long overdue, and that’s my recommendation to you. However, in my experience, approaching your manager to complain and show him you’re not dumb or easily taken advantage of is definitely not the way to go. 

As with so many things in life, you stand a much better chance of being heard by sticking to the facts, not by lashing out with emotion. Think about a situation where you had a disagreement with a friend. Were you more likely to get your point across by being calm and collaborative, or by angrily demanding that your opinion be heard?  Most people become defensive and closed off when approached in anger and I certainly don’t recommend that in this situation. Speaking as a manager, the worst way to get ahead is to appear disgruntled. Keep doing the job to the best of your ability, and as you do, begin preparing for a private conversation with your manager. 

The purpose of this conversation will not be to vent, complain, set down boundaries or involve your co-worker. In my opinion those are the worst things you could do. I would suggest saying something like, “Manager, since I’ve been working here, I’ve always tried hard to do my best at my job. A few months ago, you told me I was officially receiving a raise, but my pay hasn’t changed. I want to follow up on that conversation and ask when I will see the raise in my paycheck. Unless I misunderstood, I thought I would have that raise by now.”  Then see what he says. Perhaps he forgot; then you ask him to please make it right. Maybe he thought it went through but someone in Payroll dropped the ball. Ask him to follow up with them to make the pay adjustment as of the date it was expected to begin. The point is, listen and react calmly with what you would like to see happen. Hopefully, this is a situation that was no more than an oversight and is easily fixed.

However, I would also ask you to consider the possibility that the missing raise has nothing to do with you personally, or with your job performance. You don’t need me to tell you that the Covid-19 situation has hit retail businesses especially hard. Many people have lost their jobs completely. Countless other businesses are just trying to survive and have instituted pay freezes, hiring freezes and salary/benefit cutbacks in an effort to stave off bankruptcy. Since you indicate the raise conversation with your manager was at least a few months ago, it’s very possible that your “official” raise was approved at the time but fell victim to cutbacks necessary to keep the company going. The company simply may have been unable to follow through. If that is the case your manager should have said something, but in such stressful times he may have had other things on his mind. You would be doing yourself a great disservice to confront him about your raise in anger, only to have him tell you that planned raises never happened in an effort to save people’s jobs.

I hope something in this letter has given you some perspective on your situation. Economic times are tough right now and jobs are not easy to come by. My advice to you is to have that calm talk with your manager immediately and see what he has to say. You can always discretely begin looking for another job once companies reopen and return to hiring mode if you don’t like what you hear. I hope your current company is able to give you the raise you expected, but try to be understanding if they cannot. No matter what happens, continue to do your best. A good recommendation from your current employer will only help if you decide to look for another position in the future.

I wish you the best, and hope you’ll write back and let me know how things go with your manager. I’m rooting for you!  Thank you for writing to the EWC.

Article #: 459225

Category: Career

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *