my new job doesn’t give raises — ever

A reader writes:

I recently accepted my dream job. I’ve since learned that the company does not give out raises. They offer a small, variable, annual bonus depending on company performance instead of cost of living adjustments or merit raises.

I am getting by on my current salary in Expensive City for now and hadn’t planned to ask for a raise for at least a year. But I worry that I hamstrung myself by not negotiating for more initially. I’m happy in my position but have no growth opportunities aside from lateral transfers, which don’t interest me because I like my work and love my team. I realize my best option may be to negotiate for other perks.. But I already enjoy ample PTO and a generous work-from-home policy. I might sound like an entitled millennial, but I have medical bills and student loans … I could definitely use a little more cash!

I am tracking my accomplishments, owning my development, and brainstorming extra projects to show my increased value for an eventual conversation around my salary with my boss. Is there anything else I can do in this situation aside from get a side gig, move to the suburbs to save money, or look for another job? More broadly – am I naive for expecting my wages to grow with my value, or is the elimination of raises and COL adjustments just the reality of employment in 2019?

No, it’s not the reality of employment. Your dream job is not in fact a dream job, because your company suuucccks.

Here’s what not giving out merit raises means:
* As your contributions to the company increase, you won’t be compensated accordingly. When you’ve been in your job for a few years, they’re going to be paying you for the value you brought to the job in your first few months.
* If everyone in roles similar to yours starts at roughly the same salary and stays at that salary, you’re going to be paid the same as the slacker on your team who barely scrapes by.
* Unlike with raises, which become a fixed part of your salary, your company can decide at any time not to do those “small, variable, annual bonuses.”
* When you look for a new job, if you encounter a company that pegs their offer to your existing salary (which is BS, but still really common), you’ll be at a huge disadvantage because your salary will be out of date for your value.
* Most importantly, your company so devalues its employees’ contributions that it doesn’t think your value increases over time and doesn’t think it needs to pay you for that.

Here’s what not giving out cost-of-living raises means:

* Your salary is going to decrease in real dollars every year. You’ll have less buying power in three years than you have now. Not only will your company not reward you for performing at a higher level, they’re actually financially penalizing you.

You are not naive, and you are not an entitled millennial. And please toss that phrase, even when you’re using it ironically or to self-deprecate. Y’all were never entitled, and let’s not play into that narrative.

But if you otherwise like the job (and give it some time before you decide that!), there’s nothing wrong with staying a couple of years. You wouldn’t expect a raise during your first year anyway, and an additional year without an increase isn’t outrageous. But after two years, I’d plan to start looking for a company that doesn’t devalue employees this way.

{ 360 comments… read them below }

  1. Bend & Snap*

    “We don’t give raises” should be disclosed up front. I wonder what the retention rate is. That’s horrible.

    1. MuseumChick*

      Yes. I didn’t find out that my job didn’t give raises until after I started. Been here almost three years now and job hunting like crazy.

      1. zora*

        Reminder to everyone reading: this is a valid question to ask about before you take the job!! Normally in a 2nd interview, rather than a 1st, but definitely should be part of your questions once you get an offer! A good company will not be offended if you ask. You don’t have to wait for them to volunteer this info.

    2. Naomi*

      Yes, I was going to mention that–this company won’t retain its best employees, because they’re the ones who’ll be most able to parlay a few years of experience into a higher salary elsewhere.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            My husband works for a nonprofit, and they treat their employees better than my company when it comes to raises/bonuses. I’ve never gotten a raise or bonus at my company (even after the big end-of-year meeting where they told us it was our best year ever, highest revenue ever generated, etc.), and I’m doing about three jobs for the price of one. In contrast. my husband’s nonprofit, which runs on a shoestring budget, gave out 5% raises this year (with a nice letter about how they wouldn’t be able to keep the place running without the employees’ contributions). He has also gotten bonuses twice in three years–both over $1,000 each. Both times, somebody donated the money and told them to do what they think is best with it. They could have done 100 things with that money, but they rewarded their employees and gave them all a nice note about how they are valued. If I had the credentials to work there, I’d go work there in a second!

            1. Cafe au Lait*

              When I fantasize about winning the lotto, I imagine giving money to organizations and telling them “this is for the not-sexy stuff. Paper, staff salaries, maintenance upgrades that will make your working life more pleasant.”

              1. sara*

                My friends and I used to do this (mostly regarding the non-profit we all used to work at). Like I’ll give you this money, but it’s only for getting better uniforms, better salaries, and boring behind-the-scenes stuff like spare pressure washers so people don’t have to lug them up and down stairs all the time.

    3. Snark*

      I guarandamntee that somewhere in the C-suite, someone who runs this company is saying, “We just can’t hire enough skilled workers. This is why STEM education and coding camps are so important!”

      1. Clorinda*

        I’d be willing to bet that everyone in the C suite gets raises, too, or great big nonvariable bonuses at the very least.

        1. irene adler*

          Or they have the company credit card.
          I’m at a very small company. At one point during the Great Recession, the C-suite folks (and company owners) said there would be no raises. And they were taking a 50% pay cut.
          Well I went for 9 years without salary increase. Felt bad for the C-suite folks with their 50% pay cut.
          Until…
          I realized they were using the company credit card-all the time.

          “Hmmm, company needs a new set of tires.” Or a new dining room set, or carpet, or is paying for one C-suite’s car-restoration hobby. And meals too. Company paid for a lot of lunches.

              1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                I had to go look that up, not familiar with the name/show.

                Yeah, that’s definitely a bad sign. :-p

          1. Boston Para*

            I would be very tempted to contact the IRS about that. Did the jerks in the C-Suite pay taxes on all those benefits?

            1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

              As much as I hate to say this… the IRS doesn’t investigate things like this and (especially at small businesses) people get away with it. I worked for a very small company for 2 yrs that kept me part time because the owner didn’t want to pay for insurance or any benefits, but used the company card to purchase all of his groceries for his home, any shopping he did, pretty much anything he could code to “meals & entertainment”, as well as “maintenance expenses”… lots of several hundred dollar purchases at Lowes and Home Depot. Our office was rented, and the maintenance was covered by the landlord, so not sure why he thought that was “acceptable”.

              It had been going on for years before I arrived and probably is still going on. I was SO grateful when I was able to leave that job.

              1. DCR*

                The IRS would totally investigate this. They may not find it based on filings, but if someone reported it, they would look in to the allegation.

      2. Liane*

        “I guarandamntee that somewhere in the C-suite, someone who runs this company is saying, ‘We just can’t hire enough skilled workers. This is why STEM education and coding camps are so important!'”

        Meanwhile…across the boardroom C-Suiter#2 is saying, “Hey! Our current employees’ social media feeds are full of ‘I’m outta here!’ and ‘#ShinyNewJob’ posts and everyone we make an offer to texts back, ‘Nope. K thx bye.’ Whhhhhhhyyyyyyyyy???”

          1. Bulbasaur*

            It’s the entitled millennials! Nothing to do with our policy of explicitly devaluing our employees the longer they work for us.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          MEANWHILE, IN STEM, it is generally understood that the way to make more money is to quit and go to a different company because if you get a raise it’s like 5% but if you go to a new company you get 10-15% more money.

          Also none of these companies are willing to do ANY training — they expect the STEM education and coding camps to produce employees who are already trained on 100% of their tools and procedures and can be productive the day they set foot in the office.

          NO I’M NOT MAD ABOUT IT WHY DO YOU THINK I’M MAD ABOUT IT???

          1. Bulbasaur*

            Training? So that we can offer a higher quality service? Don’t be silly. Why would we invest all that time and effort into improving our employees when they could just leave and go to another company? Yes, I understand that we would be literally the only ones investing in professional development, in the middle of a sea of employers that all treat their employees as disposable and that nobody in their right mind would want to work for if they had any half-decent alternative. They’d screw us anyway. Trust me. How do I know? Well, it’s what we’d do to them if we had the chance!

            Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my strategy meeting on how to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and avoid commodification.

          2. Anon4This*

            Where I work the Director of IT makes 1,000,000 per year. IT staff however are significantly underpaid. And they wonder why 1) they can’t fill all postings 2) the good people leave after a year or two 3) the people who stay suck.

            I took the job at 10K under the median for my position. Then when raises came around (1%, not merit based) found out I am at their max cap for my position. Which means I will never, ever get a raise. Yeah, I’m out of there as soon as I can be.

      3. Richard*

        or “We just can’t hire enough skilled workers. Whiny millennials just don’t want to work their way up the way I like to imagine that I did!”

    4. Muriel Heslop*

      I worked for a company like this – we occasionally got a small, not in line with our area COL increase. They told us up front that they didn’t give raises but they had lots of other perks like cool travel, flex hours, and great location. That said, I was basically losing money after 4 years, living in my high COL area, so I took my experience someplace else and leveraged it for a big jump in pay and responsibility. They were mad I left but it was easy to explain that their pay wasn’t competitive.

      1. Cobol*

        That’s what I don’t get about this policy (and shocked that there are so many people who have worked at companies like that). You’re pretty much guaranteed to lose people after 2-3 years. Unless you promote with pay raises and want people who don’t make the cut to leave, it just makes no sense.

        1. Paloma Pigeon*

          These companies don’t care, because they churn in new employees constantly. It adds to their culture of ‘excitement’ vs. ‘adding value’.

        2. Muriel Heslop*

          People at our company stayed because of the lifestyle and quite frankly because they were comfortable. I loved the work but after a while it wasn’t fun to work with a bunch of people who weren’t that motivated.

        3. The New Wanderer*

          The really confusing thing to me is that companies then have to adjust their starting salaries higher to attract new candidates – just give those slightly higher salaries to your existing people, who are already contributing and aren’t going to be stuck in training for X amount of time before being productive. Instead, they’re paying ever increasing amounts to new employees and getting less productivity in return. That’s just bad math skills.

      2. Kathleen_A*

        I have worked at companies that were extremely stingy, pay- and raise-wise, but I’ve never worked anywhere that flat-out didn’t give raises. Give out very small raises? Yes. Give out very small raises even when the company was doing OK? Yes. Given out raises that aren’t tied to merit? Yes. But no raises at *allllllll*? Never.

        I am quietly aghast that this is apparently A Thing. I guess I’m a naive, entitled Boomer?

        1. AccountingIsFun*

          I’ve had it at three different companies I’ve worked at. 1 was because the company was struggling and then when they weren’t, they used the dot com bust to say that pay rises for COL would not be happening.

          The next company was because the industry is shrinking considerably and it is struggling to find good revenue streams that work for both their legacy business and where they need to go to.

          The next company was because of a shift in demographics which reduced the number of customers permanently. I think they are waiting for more employees to retire or quit so they can downsize without having to do more terminations in my area. The only way to get a pay rise is to work significant overtime or to get a promotion or to take on new job responsibilities.

      3. mark132*

        You stayed there FOUR years and they were mad you left? That’s some serious entitlement there. I could see them being mad if you were there 6 months and spent the majority of it training. But 4 years is pretty normal.

      4. MsChanandlerBong*

        My company is headquartered in a high COL area. I live in a very low COL area, so I make out okay, but I would not be able to afford to stay at this job if I moved to where our headquarters is located. My coworker makes about the same as I do (a little more because he has been at the company longer), and he said he makes more money at his seasonal retail job (he works for a few weeks around Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day) than he does at our company. I don’t know how he’s going to survive as prices keep going up.

    5. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I took a job where this was the case. It was not disclosed upfront. They gave bonuses if your worksite met its budget, but would only give raises if every worksite (there were 30 or so of them) met their budgets for the year, which never happened so raises did not happen.

      The job was Covered in Bees and that was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back honestly, finding out that they’d lied to me about compensation.

    6. Wendy Darling*

      The retention rate is probably terrible because not giving raises is a really good way to make sure everyone at your company leaves for more money after 2-3 years.

    7. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      Yep. I found out that my last job didn’t give raises (or at least hadn’t given them in over 3 years) after I started. I lasted there a little under 2 years (with no raise or COLA) and moved on to a place that has regular annual merit raises. My rent goes up every year, I need my income to at least keep pace with cost of living.

    8. QC*

      Totally agree. If this had been disclosed at my last job, I wouldn’t have accepted the offer. I was there for just over 2 years, and never received a penny more than my initial salary. My total compensation also stayed as it was because I would have had to stay 5 years to be vested in their contributions to my retirement account or to see my vacation time increase. And I will never forget how crazy and entitled they made me feel for caring about the money, even just in my exit interview. They excepted employees to be totally committed to the mission, period. The retention rate was garbage.

      At my next company, I got my first COL raise 6 months in during the regular review/merit increase cycle and it was a huge sigh of relief.

      1. mark132*

        Was that job a non-profit? Based on some of what I’ve read here, non-profits seem to be a little more “divorced from reality” than for-profits.

        1. Le Sigh*

          Some nonprofits def play into the mission-based lines and I think it’s a real problem in the industry. But I’ve worked at others that actually value their employees. And I’ve worked at several for-profits where the owners seemed to think we should care about the company as much as they did (w/o any real incentive like profit-sharing) and be grateful for our jobs. And they all gave raises, but they were inflexible, openly played favorites, and made pay decisions that seemed based on who the executive team liked more than who deserved them.

          I think really it matters who’s in charge and their mentality — whether nonprofit or for-profit, or gov. agency, anyone with enough determination and crappy managerial style can find a way to justify treating employees like crap. At that point it’s just about the messaging.

          1. Exhausted Trope*

            Oh, it totally does come down to who’s in charge. In the nonprofit where I work, the director of my department thinks that it’s normal and “candidates should expect low wages” (yes, direct quote here) because it’s a nonprofit of course.
            And she wonders why our turnover is astronomical.
            I cannot wait to get out of there.

            1. Anon4This*

              I worked at a place like that. The Director felt that if you weren’t working solely for the mission you shouldn’t be there. They offer about 1/2 the salary of comparable positions at other organizations. Then wonder why they can’t hire anyone, especially in technical positions.

    9. OP*

      Retention varies between divisions and departments. There’s enough work in the industry that they probably assume an endless supply of workers. and I agree, I wish they had to disclose this up front! How would I politely ask about raises in interviews though?

      1. tangerineRose*

        The next time you look for a job, you might be able to mention the no raises policy when they ask you why you’re looking (I think that would be an OK thing to talk about, if you just mention it as an issue but don’t seem angry about it) – at that point, they’ll probably either be shocked or agree with that company.

      2. Corp Recruiter*

        If you’re nervous about asking this during an interview you should definitely ask after receiving an offer, though learning this sooner rather than later is probably best so you don’t risk wasting your time. Most of the candidates I work with ask some version of “am I able to increase my salary over time?” or “does the company do annual pay increases?” These are important questions that need answers. If they don’t ask me about compensation, raises, etc. I volunteer the information.

      3. seller of teapots*

        I think now that you’ve had this experience, that makes it easier to ask. “I once had a job that was great in many, many ways, but ultimately I had to leave because they had a company-wide policy of not giving out raises. Ever since then, I like to ask what the policy is during the interview stage.”

  2. Ginger*

    “And please toss that phrase, even when you’re using it ironically or to self-deprecate. Y’all were never entitled, and let’s not play into that narrative.”

    THANK YOU!!

    OP – your company does indeed suck on the compensation front and I’m wondering who told you they never give out raises because I’m smelling some BS all the way from here. Maybe they meant they don’t do annual COL raises or annual raises in general but no raises, ever?? If that’s the case, I would be looking at how long people stay there and prepare yourself to have to move on in a few years as your skills and experience grow.

    1. Dr. Pepper*

      It’s not entitled to want to live in modest comfort and be compensated fairly for your labor and skills. Nor is it entitled to be able to pay your bills and have access to healthcare. The “entitled millennial” narrative is tired. There’s entitled people of ALL generations going back to the dawn of humanity. Socrates lamented the state of “kids these days”, for goodness sake. Stop thinking that your every existence means you’re “entitled”.

      1. Nita*

        I’ve read that it wasn’t even Socrates, or at least, there’s no conclusive proof he said anything like that. Apparently he left behind no writings, though a couple of his students quoted him in theirs. I’m sure there’s always been some “kids these days” sentiment, but this particular quote has been thrown around in connection with “entitled milennials” so much, it kind of bugs me that it’s not even real.

        1. VelociraptorAttack*

          A little off topic, forgive me, but indeed most of what we know of Socrates was due to Plato’s writings. I had a philosophy instructor in college who was not amused by my good-natured ribbing that I was fairly certain Plato made up Socrates entirely.

          So if “Socrates” said it, it’s Plato saying Socrates said it but there’s also no proof that Plato ever wrote it so I think it’s all one big ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          1. whingedrinking*

            Socrates (reputedly) disliked the idea of writing philosophy down. He thought it destroyed the entire point of the endeavour, which was the back-and-forth between teachers and students, and made people lazy because they wouldn’t have to remember things, they’d just check the writings.
            Yes, even two thousand years ago, people were griping about how technology was ruining education.

      2. KHB*

        More to the point, it’s not “entitled” to be open about the fact that you do work in exchange for money, and to want the very best deal for yourself that you can get. This site has done a lot to help me feel more comfortable thinking in those terms, although I still have a long way to go.

      3. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Actually, there’s carvings from Mesopotamia on sides of rock outcrops lamenting the behaviour of the youth.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And their Paleolithic grandfathers were harrumphing because when THEY were young, they put HANDPRINTS inside of CAVES for pete’s sake!

      4. Dagny*

        Entitled would be expecting a bonus or a substantial raise despite poor or mediocre performance. Entitled would be to expect a promotion based on time served, not by showcasing outstanding skills and the aptitude to serve in the higher role.

        Let’s be clear as to what entitled is, because it also makes clear what it is not – which is expecting compensation to be tagged to performance and to increase as inflation increases.

    2. kittymommy*

      I’m wonder if this is actually true as well – who told the LW this or is it just a company rumor. Maybe that person doesn’t get a raise because they suck at their job??? If the company really doesn’t give raises they are a crap company and while the work may be a dream, they are not. I mean my local municipality gives raises and if local government can find a way to give raises in the middle of a recession, even if it’s 1% , and in an area that is super loathe to pay for anything and pretty much wants to privatize everything, I’m sure this company can figure it out.

      And leave the entitled millennial BS where it belongs. I think every generation is called lazy, entitled, selfish, etc. and it’s crap. Always has been and always will be.

      1. KR*

        This is what I was thinking. If it’s a manager or HR that told them the company doesn’t give raises I would take it at face value and follow AAMs advice but if someone else said it.. I think OP should just work hard for a year or two then ask for a raise and see what happens.

      2. Mouse*

        I work for a local government and our raises are all negotiated by our unions. The LW might not have that option.

        1. AKchic*

          I work as a union contractor for the fed, and yeah… no raises unless the union negotiates it at the new contract. We’re in the middle of a 5 year contract right now. Luckily, my wage is extremely high, and I have excellent insurance. My only quibble is my leave time sucks. Plus, I came to this job straight from an 8 year stint at a non-profit at 50% of what I’m making now, with terrible medical benefits (but excellent leave).

    3. Sara without an H*

      Yes. I’d advise OP to give it a year or 18 months, build up a really, really stellar record, then sit down with her manager. It’s entirely possible that “no raises” means “We don’t do regular salary reviews, but if you can impress the hell out of us, we’ll give you a raise.”

      Which really screws over other staff, and argues that this is not a good place to build a long term career. But I think it would be worth trying. And, of course a well-documented stellar record of achievement would look very good to hiring managers elsewhere.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yes, this. When I’ve been in places that weren’t giving annual COL or other increases, there was always a way to get more if you knew how to work the system — maybe you got a promotion from X to Senior X or whatever, while staying in essentially the same job. It’s a crappy way to run a company.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      There are no Gen X-ers or Boomers saying “I don’t care for raises, but apparently those entitled millennials think the company should give raises. Sigh.”

      Reminds me of the company that felt a prospective employee wanting to know salary before the second interview just wasn’t exhibiting the kind of passion for takeout menu design that they expected in all their employees. No, wanting to be paid is not an entitled millennial thing unknown to the generations that came before.

      1. Cobol*

        I’m Gen X (borderline, but still), and I’ve never understood the entitled millennial trope. The core of the group had 9-11 as a foundational memory, and then joined the workplace as the second worst recession off all time kicked off.

        1. Oranges*

          I think it’s because the employee/employer relationship has… changed. We no longer feel like we’re committed to a business since we KNOW the business isn’t committed to us. So we tend to view the relationship through a “mercenary” lens.

          This is a shift but I can’t say if it’s positive or negative. My gut says both like most shifts.

          1. Oranges*

            For clarification: Viewing the relationship through a “mercenary” lens can be disconcerting to the people who had the brief time where the company/employee relationship was more… social(?) than business. And you can’t forget the rose colored glasses.

            1. Cobol*

              I feel like real job hopping started before millennials, and goes beyond just work (millennials and they’re available avacado toast preventing them from buying diamonds). It’s ill-formed regardless.

              1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

                It started with all of the mass layoffs in the 90s, when people realized they weren’t getting their gold anniversary watch and a pension with benefits, because their company would decide it was cheaper to lay them off 6 months before the pension vested, thus ruining their entire financial life plan.

                1. Le Sigh*

                  Yeah, I watched my parents get laid off at that time. It taught me that corporations don’t care a lick about you in the long-run. My parents were caught in that weird generational space in between and they’ve never completely recovered. It really took the shine off that nice “capitalism is good and will take care of you” story a lot of us were fed. And then companies all got mad when they realized employees weren’t buying what they were selling anymore and that this attitude goes both ways. Tough!

          2. RUKidding*

            I dont think anything has changed or that it’s anything new really.

            I’m *technically* a boomer (1963) but really I’m gen-x … socially, culturally, etc. My grandmother (WW2 “greatest “ generation) told me when I was a mere child that companies feel no commitment to the workers.

            IME thst’s always been pretty spot on.

    5. Sacred Ground*

      Back in my days of youth, the ’70s and ’80s, we’d use the expression “false entitlement.” This referred to some people’s sense that they were owed, were entitled to, something they were NOT owed or entitled to. Somewhere along the way the word “false” was dropped and the same concept was simply referred to as “entitlement.”

      THIS IS SO WRONG. In life, there are in fact real entitlements, all sorts of them, economic, legal, ethical. An entitlement is anything to which you have a right. You buy a plane ticket, you are entitled to ride on that plane. You purchase a thing, you are entitled to that thing. In either case, you are entitled to a refund if you don’t get it. You pay into a defined-benefit pension fund, you are entitled to that benefit. You get arrested, you are entitled to a lawyer. You register to vote, you are entitled to cast a vote. You are a human, you are entitled to a basic level of respect and dignity.

      Erasing the distinction between entitlement and false entitlement, treating every entitlement as false, is essentially saying that nobody has a right to anything. Doesn’t matter if you’ve earned it, paid for it, or are guaranteed it under law or owed it by any reasonable code of ethics. It’s an “entitlement” and therefore illegitimate. It’s a way of denying people their rights by de-legitimatizing the very idea that people have rights.

      1. Former Employee*

        The idea that entitlement was a bad thing really took off thanks to the Republicans sneeringly referring to Social Security and Medicare as entitlements. Except that we who paid onto these programs for 35+ years are actually entitled, i.e., have a right, to the benefits provided by said programs.

        Conversely, the same Republicans thought it was their duty to give huge tax breaks to the richest individuals (now I can buy a new yacht) and big corporations, with the flimsy excuse that this would result in more jobs, better pay for workers, etc. As it turned out, virtually all of that money went into stock buybacks and more money for the executives.

      2. Crooked Bird*

        And it feels particularly icky when I hear government programs intended to help and support citizens are referred to as “entitlements”–which is technically quite true but sounds awful now that the word has been so completely demonized. Almost makes me wonder if someone did it on purpose.

        (Side note, as a religious person, I always notice the same thing has happened to the word “righteous.” It’s meant to be “self-righteous.”)

      3. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        Yep! I won an extremely competitive merit scholarship from my university that came with a whole host of benefits, and there were always people ready to complain that the scholars were ‘entitled’ if we ever complained about anything.

        No, our scholarship literally entitles us to A, B, and C, thanks.

    6. Helena*

      OP, you might want to check your company’s employee handbook (if it has one) to see what it says about annual evaluations and raises. If it’s company policy to give no raises, that’s one situation. If it’s not company policy, but just something your boss/location/regional manager is doing, that’s a completely different situation that would need to be handled differently.

  3. Amber Rose*

    Spot on as always. The work may be what you want to do, but the company is not a dream employer. Keep in mind that cost of living raises are because everything gets more expensive over time. So by denying you even that, not only are you losing buying power, but they’re gaining extra buying power because they don’t have to “waste” their money on raises.

    Don’t let people gaslight you into that entitled crap. You’re worth the value that you provide. You provide more value as you gain experience and knowledge. End of story.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It feels the same as the people who complain about how, when they were kids, nobody was depressed and people just need to suck it up. It comes from a place of jealousy, because they didn’t have access to what people today have access to. But that’s crap. Every generation has access to new things, that’s how progress works.

        The older generations drank that company loyalty kool-aid and got screwed, which is why millennials up are not going that direction. That’s not entitlement, it’s learning from history.

        1. Snark*

          Exactly. “Oh, you’re going to reserve the right to lay me off with no warning when first quarter profits are a little soft? Cool. Then I want to start at $60k and an extra week of paid leave per year.” I see precisely nothing wrong with this.

        2. Jadelyn*

          Loyalty is like respect – it’s earned, and it needs to be mutual in order to work properly. Companies showed so clearly over the last few decades that they have absolutely 0 loyalty to their employees, so why do they think they have a right to expect loyalty from the employees after that?

          It always drives me nuts, seeing the articles in business magazines bemoaning the lack of employee loyalty. Y’all made your bed! Stop crying about it! And of course it’s two pages over from an article on “the benefits of the ~gig economy~”, aka “how you can take advantage of people who are trying to make ends meet by taking on multiple side jobs”, so…you’re not exactly making a strong case for why employees should see you as any less disposable than you see them as.

            1. Snark*

              Seconded. It’s not your side hustle, it’s the second job you have to work because late capitalism has decided that stagnant salaries are worth it to keep the shareholders happy.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Second…third…fourth…you know. However many it takes to make sure you can survive long enough to keep donating your time to your primary job, so you can help Mr. Shareholder buy his seventh yacht. Because that’s definitely what matters here.

                This seriously is the Bad Place.

            2. Gazebo Slayer*

              I have mixed feelings about the gig economy because, exploitative and low-paid as it usually is, I as a permanently unemployable person would be seriously screwed without it.

              1. Gadfly*

                Exactly.
                If we just hadn’t tied things like healthcare to ‘normal’ employment, there could be some really innovative improvements to the work-life balance coming from the gig economy. But as it is now, we’ve got for the most part the most exploiting forms of either employment or gig work being the norm

          1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

            I don’t believe loyalty is at all applicable to my employment. My job is a business arrangement between me and my employer. Loyalty is for sports fans and mobsters and that favorite brand of peanut butter. lol.

        3. MM*

          Oh, man. A while ago, my conservative aunt sent an email around about the University of Chicago’s “suck it up” policy regarding diversity in the curriculum, trigger warnings in classes, etc. I normally ignore her emails, but as that is my alma mater and I have strong feelings about said policy, I did push back. Some other relative whom I’ve never even met then replied to me personally (as in, not a reply-all) with some hogwash about how school was tough back when his wife was going through it and why should it be any different now.

          I sent him back a whole screed about how by this logic, nothing should ever improve, and we all might as well give up having water piped into our homes and re-legalize child labor. That was pretty much that.

          1. Amber Rose*

            My husband tried that argument once a long time ago after a commercial about anti-bullying initiatives. “Nobody ever did this for us when we were in school.”

            And I was like, “Yeah, and school sucked for both of us. Why would you want anyone else to experience that? That’s not cool.”

            Progress happens when people decide that some hardship sucks, but it doesn’t have to in the future, for future generations. Regression happens when we take too much joy in schadenfreude.

            1. kiwimusume*

              And, like, you are allowed to FEEL jealous. You’re allowed to wish that you had been spared the hardship in question too. You deserved to be spared that hardship and it wasn’t fair that you had to go through it. Just don’t stand against progress for the generations after you.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        In my experience “entitled” is code for “had the unmitigated gall to WANT SOMETHING” completely regardless of how reasonable that thing is.

  4. Less Bread More Taxes*

    OP, do you have an idea yet how others in your office are handling this? Have they all worked there for relatively short periods of time? Have they been successful in negotiating any kind of benefits increase?

    1. Namelesscommentator*

      In my experience this question can’t really be asked because the junior staff are job searching/aren’t there anymore and the senior staff have gotten raise increases through promotions.

      I once worked at a place that only gave raises to counter resignations. And their benefits weren’t good enough to ever accept the counter offer. Leaving for 50% raise, more flexibility with hours, better benefits, and more upward movement potential is how 4 of us have left this year.

    2. OP*

      Most of my team have been there for 5+ years. A couple have gotten promotions (to the senior position I was hired into) and all the ones I spoke to indicated that’s was their only real avenue to a raise.

  5. Snark*

    “Siri, what’s the best way to ensure massively expensive turnover and brain drain while treating people who regard my company as their dream job like they’re expendable cogs in a machine that doesn’t care about them?”

    1. Double A*

      I wonder if this is a video game company. There are enough kids for whom it’s a dream job that the industry can just churn through them and spit them out.

  6. Zip Silver*

    I would bet this is purposeful to encourage high turnover. OP didn’t say what field, but if it’s something like cold call sales or a clickbait “journalism” company, they could just want to keep a constant flow of new grads going to save on payroll

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Because you have the constant expense of recruiting and training new people. (That doesn’t mean all turnover is bad; it’s not. Some turnover is good, when you’re getting rid of lower-performing employees. But a really high turnover rate indicates something is going wrong.)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              We are getting off-topic here but: Staff time and lowered productivity while the person is being trained (both from the new person and the person training them, and usually from the manager overseeing their work — it’s a lot more time-intensive to manage a new person than a more established one).

            2. Robm*

              No matter how talented an employee might be, they’re almost certainly a net drain on productivity when they start, as they’re not only unable to carry the full load they’re being paid for, but the boss and/or the person training them isn’t working at full capacity either.

            3. elemenohp*

              Weirdly enough, I was just doing research on this and found this SHRM report that goes into detail on what costs are included in turnover, in case you want to dig into the details: hwww.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/special-reports-and-expert-views/Documents/Retaining-Talent.pdf

              There’s a table summarizing this on p. 4 (or page 15 of the pdf)

          1. TootsNYC*

            since so much of that cost is lost productivity, that often doesn’t show up on the balance sheet. And there are people who only pay attention to cash dollars going in or out.

        2. Snark*

          The direct costs of hiring someone, plus the lost productivity from a) a new person not being fully functional in the role and b) more experienced people training them instead of doing their core job.

          1. Washi*

            Plus usually people only give around 2 weeks notice when they leave, which isn’t enough time to find and start someone new, so you also have a vacancy for at least a few weeks, and sometimes longer.

            And if people are only sticking around a few years, that’s enough time for them to become really competent in their roles, but often it’s after the 1.5 – 2 year mark when people can take on leadership/spearhead new projects/change how things work for the better, and you lose out on that if you can’t reward people for going above and beyond.

        3. AccountingIsFun*

          Payroll taxes are also a cost of turnover for State Unemployment taxes and federal unemployment taxes in the United States. For federal, the first $7,000 of wages you pay a person in a calendar year is subject to a 6% payroll tax (is mostly reduced due to state payments). So – if you turnover an employee say in June, you have now just doubled your FUTA tax for the year – you will have paid for 2 people’s first $7,000.

          State amounts vary widely as do their tax rates for unemployment. The double kicker on this is not only do you pay twice the amount of state unemployment tax when you turn over an employee in the year, you also increase the rate of state unemployment tax. Most state’s tax rates change based on the number of people who claim unemployment after employment with you even if they left voluntarily – though if it is voluntary and isn’t “for cause” you can contest the change in your experience rate.

          And this to the training costs and productivity costs noted by Allison, and that amounts add up quickly.

            1. Krabby*

              Plus, if your employees get medical benefits (I’m in a different country where this is common even for part-time, so this may not be as relevant in the US), people are more likely to use up large chunks of their coverage, particularly dental, right when they start and leave a new coverage plan. If you have someone leaving every 4 months, you are likely driving your yearly renewal costs up exponentially because you had 3 people max out their coverage before moving on.

              I dealt with this a few years ago and we almost had to discontinue a really valued portion of our benefits because they were becoming unsustainable. Luckily it gave my management team the kick in the pants they needed to actually fix the problem.

              There are a lot of hidden costs associated with turnover.

        4. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

          In my industry, it’s typical for employers to pay placement/recruiting agencies a placement fee equal to 20% – 25% of a new hire’s annual base salary. So for small companies that rely on recruiting agencies to refer candidates, that can be costly.

      1. Don*

        Yep, but remember: by definition, 50% of companies & managers are below average. Folks make bad choices and some companies codify them as policy. Thankfully they all still have doors you can walk out of.

        1. serenity*

          Can we leave bogus or not cited stats/numbers off this site please?

          The internet is already riddled with tons of bad information and AAM is a nice oasis away from that. Thank you.

          1. ElspethGC*

            That’s not really something that needs to be cited, though. If you’re using the average as a synonym for the median, then by definition, half of all companies are better than the average and half are below it.

            1. Snark*

              We’re definitely getting off topic, but that definition applies to numerical averages, not the colloquial use of average in the context of unquantifiable things like competence and reasonable policy and so on.

              1. Snark*

                So to bring it full circle, no, I don’t think it’s reasonable to assert that 50% of managers and employers are on the dumb, awful side, because I don’t think that’s supportable.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Y’all, please move on as this is off-topic. Thanks!

              (Also, I’ve removed a ton of comments saying the same thing since we don’t need them all when it’s already off-topic.)

          2. Mike B.*

            This isn’t a study result, it’s a tautology. If we take “average” to mean “median,” literally 50% (or perhaps 50% minus one) of the values in the set are higher and 50% are lower.

            (“Average” generally means “mean,” however, which makes this adage less than fully accurate even if the point remains the same.)

            1. serenity*

              “Folks make bad choices and some companies codify them as policy. Thankfully they all still have doors you can walk out of.”

              I don’t think this comment was “science” and the user was clearly using the phrase to mean “half of everything is bad”.

              Thanks for schooling me!

              1. Cobol*

                I applied above, but ignore. What’s great about AM is people really are asking sincere questions respectfully.

          3. Snark*

            But it’s not actually rooted in math, because there’s no way to measure “management competence.”

          4. ZB*

            sorry to pile on OP… turns out AAM readers are really quick on stuff like this, 5 comments in the space of minute!

            1. serenity*

              Thanks for your comment! I definitely did not know what the word “average” means and Don’s comment definitely wasn’t a meaningless metric for assessing the competence of workplaces/managers across the board.

        2. Marthooh*

          Most likely they can’t afford to give guaranteed raises because the high turnover eats up most of the profits. And they just can’t understand why… :/

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I was thinking no-profit. “But you do it for the love of it!”

      (I work for a nonprofit. They give raises. And good health insurance.)

          1. Wantonseedstitch*

            Very true! Many smaller nonprofits ARE strapped for cash and can’t compete with salaries for the same kinds of work in the corporate world, but there are a lot of nonprofits out there of varying sizes. Colleges, hospitals, even independent schools can pay very reasonable salaries. I work at one of those, and have had a salary increase every year I’ve been here.

          2. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

            Thank you. Non-profit is a tax status designation. That is all. Decent ones (like decent for-profit entities) pay decent wages and offer reasonable benefits.

  7. AnonyMouse*

    100% agree with Alison on this. I currently work for a place like this and it sucks! Everyone at my job makes the same amount which is significantly below market in VERY EXPENSIVE COL city. So my supervisor who has ten years of experience makes the same as me who now have 2 years of experience, who makes the same as another member of our staff who only very recently acquired her professional certification to practice. This salary scheme was thought up by our director who thinks that people only need $50,000 to live because he has a trust fund from his parents. Don’t be like me. It sucks to work for a place like this because everyday you’re essentially being told that no matter what you achieve, you’re still worth the same as when you first started.

    1. Kill ItWithFIre*

      OMG, you aren’t even worth the same as when you started, you are worth less because each dollar is worth less because you need more money for the same goods as inflation rises. That’s why there are cost of living raises. I hope you find a better job soon, sounds like your company sucks.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Thank you for the support and kind words. As the cherry on top, our director also demoted everyone on staff to non-exempt status to avoid compliance with our state regulation for exempt employees to avoid giving us a raise in salary. There was also no cost of living adjustments given. Places like this pray on young people, like me when I started fresh out of school. Don’t let them get away w BS like this. I am a fixed term employee and will be leaving later this year for other opportunities.

          1. knitcrazybooknut*

            I was thinking, “pray” for young people who start working there. Ye gods and little fishes.

            Best of luck to you in your job search!!

          1. AnonyMouse*

            Haha he said no overtime (which is illegal but he DGAF) and then proceeds to send requests through emails at ALL hours of the day (true story: 3:10am on a Sunday he asked us to all brainstorm for an idea he had just then) and expects people to work overtime during events. In theory, we would be fine because we have flextime but he doesnt keep track of our hours and will yell at you if you try to track hours through our timekeeping system and he receives email notifications from said system because he is so busy… sigh

    2. chickia*

      Why is your supoervisor still there?!?! And why is ANYONE still there after the initial entry level 1-2 years?????

      1. AnonyMouse*

        My supervisor also started as a young grad during the recession. My theory is that he’s been Stockholm’ed into staying.

    3. SophieChotek*

      Same here. I’ve worked for same job for 3.5 years, never had a raise, though I have had title change and 50% more added to my workload. I believe my supervisor makes more than me, but I know my colleague (who worked here 3 years more than me), only made $1000 more a year than me, and I suspect she came in on about that salary, since we never seem to have received raises. Actually, I know my supervisors were forced to take paycuts to help cut the budget.

      Turnover is either really fast or there are super-loyal employees who have stayed forever. (We’re not even a non-profit, so they are loyal to the company; not even the “cause.”) There’s sort of this weird “cult” around the CEO, so I think people are like super loyal to him.

      But this was a good wake-up call for me too.

      1. On Fire*

        I work in government. For my first several years, we got annual COLAs and merit bonuses (except one year the state budget was in a crunch) and the occasional raise (not exactly annual, but I had a 2-3 in 5 years).
        Then a new elected official came in. The people he brought in were hired at a higher rate of pay than the existing employees, and for the next three years, they (his hires) were the ONLY ones who got raises. I didn’t get a raise, and my merit bonus was decreased because they refused to give anyone “exceeds standards” on evaluations, which was how the merit pay was calculated.
        I don’t know what happened after that, because I left after three years and am making more money.

    4. Res Admin*

      The place I worked didn’t give out raises often–not even COL. The net effect was that they were hiring in newbies with no experience for twice what the people who had been there 20+ years were making–and expecting the existing employees to train the new employees (who often looked down on the older employees because they didn’t have the degrees or the paycheck). Needless to say, they lost about 90% of their staff in the space of about 3 months when the other perks of the job stopped making up for the disparity. They haven’t been able to keep many employees more than 6-8 months since then either.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Companies like that pretty much deserve to fail. It sounds like it’s spiraling more quickly now. There should be Glassdoor warnings for all companies that operate this way to give fair warning to the new-to-workforce future victims.

  8. Anonymous Educator*

    There’s a reason they call cost of living increases “cost of living increases.” The cost of living rises. I live in a rent-controlled apartment, but even with rent control, the landlord is able to raise the rent a few percent every year, which means if my salary doesn’t also increase at least a few percent every year, I’m actually losing money.

    And since you aren’t getting any cost of living increase, you are also losing money.

    1. CM*

      This. Last place I worked wouldn’t do cost of living (and fought super hard to pay us as little as it could. Especially women as we found out when they were required to do an equity assessment). Those of us who’d had jobs before were like “you understand you’re paying us less every year because money loses value, right?” And they acted like we were speaking Martian.

  9. Secretary*

    When you do leave, OP, tell them it’s the lack of salary increases for reasons above. Maybe in a year or two you’ll have enough capital that you can bring it up beforehand.

    Also, it sounds like you’re a great employee! There are lots of employers that would pay good money for someone like you.

  10. CatCat*

    I’m perplexed by Company’s strategy here, but it is possible, they only need people at a certain skill level to stay for a short period of time and turnover isn’t a big deal for them for each position every year or two.

    I mean, the lack of even COLA increases is kind of ridiculous, but it is what it is. They are sending, imo, a clear message that they don’t expect people to stay long term given the pay rut people get in and the lack of promotional opportunities. Get in a solid two years of experience producing quality work and you’ll get that raise when you move up and out.

    1. Observer*

      High turnover ALWAYS costs money. And it’s almost impossible for a company to operate effectively is EVERYONE is a relatively short term employee. Sure there are position where that makes sense. But NOT across the entire organization.

      Which means that the OP’s company is not well managed, or someone is lying to them.

      1. CatCat*

        Maybe I misunderstood the letter. I read it as related to the positions because OP can move around at the same level, but there’s no expectation of a promotion or a raise at that level.

        My spouse works for a large company where the vast majority of employees are at part-time at Level X. Opportunities to go to full-time or beyond Level X are extremely rare. Pay is not great. Certain benefits only kick in after 1 year of averaging out a certain number of hours. The company does not hide the ball about any of these realities.

        It’s not a highly skilled job and people are easily replaced. Apparently the culture is great and people love working there, but turnover is pretty high as people leave for full-time jobs or higher paying jobs (according to spouse, his departing colleagues pretty much always say they love working there, but need to leave for when an opportunity for better pay and more hours comes along, this is not something anyone at the company holds against them and managers don’t force people out for looking for other jobs). They have regular groups of new employees coming in and seem to have a regular schedule/rotation of training. It just seems to be a part of their process and how the business operates. It’s a successful business.

    2. Tin Cormorant*

      But wouldn’t the new people coming in negotiate slightly higher pay than the ones who left, due to their cost of living being higher?

  11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    This company is ran by idiots. Don’t trust them.

    You like your team now but they’ll all leave as they find out how much they’re worth at other companies. Then they’ll be replaced with whatever they can scrape together.

    They’re taking advantage of you and others who are desperate to work and take whatever crappy salaries they give out at the start.

  12. AnotherAlison*

    Does Company also keep their prices fixed? If not, I think that’s a heck of a plan. Hold salaries constant while your employees become more productive. Raise prices to customers. Pocket difference.

  13. Jennifer*

    Unfortunately, COL raises seem to be a thing of the past for a lot of companies. It’s like getting a pay cut every year.

      1. Jennifer*

        Me either. Many people are struggling now because of that. Prices are going up and wages haven’t risen to match them. I think it is a reality for many in 2019.

        At least this OP was “fortunate” enough to be hired as a full-time employee and not a freelancer so she gets some benefits.

      2. animaniactoo*

        We’re overdue for one at my company. About 2 years overdue I think. I should be paying more attention, but I’m coming up on my 20th year here and I had a bad year last year (was sick, etc.).

      3. Wendy Darling*

        When I was in academia no one had gotten a COL increase, much less a raise, in 8 years because of the university’s “financial difficulties”. Graduate student stipends had also not been adjusted, so stipends were the same in 2010 as they had been in 2002. Meanwhile, rents in my city had basically doubled.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t want the OP to read this and misunderstand/think that you’re saying what her company is doing is normal, because it’s not. Typically companies that don’t do automatic COL raises are still doing merit raises.

      1. hello*

        I think this is just a wake up call to the rest of us that are in this situation that it is not normal. I think it might be common but not normal or right.

        1. Scarlett*

          I agree. Until I read this letter, I believed my organization when they told me that “people in professional jobs don’t get raises unless they get promotions.” Yes, I actually thought this was true until I read this response from Allison, and I’m a Gen-X’er who has been at this particular organization for 8 years (worked in public service before, with publicly accessible salary scales). We *sometimes* get a COL increase (depending on whether the company met their sales goal for the year), but it is only about $1K extra a year, which basically means I can get one extra Starbucks a week.

          My question is — if my company’s stance is to not give raises without a promotion, and I’m already at the top of the food chain in my department, is there any way to show them that this is not standard business practice?

          1. eplawyer*

            No. They KNOW it’s not standard business practice. They are just shoveling manure at you hoping it sticks.

            You’ve been there 8 years take those wonderful skills you’ve learned to a company that actually practices standard business practices.

          2. MassMatt*

            Yes, by leaving, and explaining why in an exit interview, if you have one. Seriously, start looking, now!

      2. J.E.*

        I feel like so many policies that are unfriendly and damaging to employees are starting to get normalized. Young people entering the workforce don’t know this isn’t how things have always been, therefore don’t know to ask for them or are made to feel entitled if they ask for things that used to be standard in most workplaces.

        1. Jennifer*

          I agree. And when you push back people tell you, ‘we’ve been miserable all these years so you have to be too.’ Nothing wrong with standing up and demanding what you are owed.

        2. Marthooh*

          Right! The employment market favored hirers for so long that job seekers have gotten used to feeling desperate. But markets change, and people like the OP have resources to figure out what they’re worth. Companies that try to normalize flat pay, terrible hours, and inflexible policies aren’t going to get or keep the best workers. It’s sad that the process of change is so slow, though.

        3. Mazzy*

          I agree. I mean, we see younger people act “entitled” in terms of certain things such as coming in late or being on their phones a lot, but they’re lowering they’ve had to lower their standard when it comes to bigger things such as asking for enough to buy a house and car when they’re in a mid-level role.

        4. Gazebo Slayer*

          As I pointed out above, this is what the antiworker propaganda campaign about “entitled millennials” is for.

      3. KayEss*

        What’s really fun is when there’s no COL increase, and also you’re told straight-up that managers are not allowed to give ratings higher than “satisfactory” in any category on performance reviews… because that one “exceeds expectations” could lead to you thinking you somehow deserve a merit increase.

      4. ChachkisGalore*

        I definitely wouldn’t want the OP to think this a good or rational policy. Unfortunately, though, in my experience – any sort of COL/merit raises on a regular basis are not normal (I have experienced raises for promotions, but regardless of responsibilities if my title didn’t change, my pay didn’t change). 12 years of work experience across a couple of different industries and only 2 of those have come with any sort of regular salary adjustments/reviews.

        I obviously can’t speak to the working world as a whole, but I can say that regular adjustments have not been normal for me, and don’t appear to be within my peer/social group.

      5. OP*

        LW here. Thank you for your answer, Alison. I read a few articles recently about how companies were shifting to giving out more PTO, being more flexible about remote work, and everything under the sun except for COL and merit increases. So I thought maybe that was how things worked. my Boomer parents got raises, but I graduated during the recession – this is the first time I’ve been lucky enough like someone said upthread to be hired ft job. It’s good (?) to know this isn’t standard.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, we only get a CoL after a few years of the union having fights over it. Those are the only raises anyone gets in our industry. It’s not straight up told “no raises” but nobody is ever going to get marked over “meets expectations” either.

      1. Nita*

        This is a thing in local government where I live. I have a couple family members working for different agencies – raises are few and far between, and happen only after several years of unions arguing with the city. People either job-hop, or get a “new job” within the same agency to get a raise. I think OP is in a private company though – at least around here, government jobs don’t get bonuses.

        1. Kasey*

          I worked for a local government like this. The only way to get a raise was to get promoted to the next pay grade, which you could only do by taking professional development courses. Except some pay grades required up to ten courses, and the courses were offered so few and far between that it would take years to complete them. Needless to say I got out of there after three years of endless frustration.

      2. VelociraptorAttack*

        I work in a university setting, I’ve been here for nearly 3 years, have gotten 2 exceeds expectations reviews, got one cost of living adjustment when I’d been here for 4 months. Feels great, let me tell you….

    3. Oaktree*

      I get one! But it’s something like a 2.08% raise, which doesn’t even keep pace with inflation.

      1. Wired Wolf*

        The last raise (and actual performance review) I got was nearly 2 years ago under my old manager–who was very pro-worker and a $15/hour proponent. COL in my city is such that a living wage is no less than $13/hour. When he left and we got a new manager, I suddenly got a “needs to stay focused” label from the Retail manager higher up…I suspect this was because I had been trained to handle everything (at a time when my team was much smaller) and this person feels we should only focus on one thing at a time–which isn’t how retail works generally.

        I was hired when the state minimum wage was $10, at roughly 15% more. Now that minimum wage has gone up to $12, I’m making juuust over minimum [i]after being there for 2 years[/i] (I opened the store). My manager has plenty of “proof” about “not staying focused” (she dictates who does what, all she has to do is point to me doing something that wasn’t on the lineup…no matter that it had to be done, she didn’t say to do it–she’d rather ask “Why wasn’t this done?” than let us take initiative).

  14. AllyPally*

    “…the company does not give out raises” Uh huh.
    I admittedly don’t know the situation, but I’d be willing to bet a significant amount of my savings that that’s not the case higher up the ladder. How long have upper management been in the company? I can’t believe they’d be here for more than 2 years without a raise either.

  15. insert pun here*

    I had a job like this, not sure if it was a specific policy or just sort of a “this is how things are done here” thing. Didn’t stick around long enough to find out. Stay a couple years, get some valuable experience, don’t disclose your salary when you interview, and move on.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      In NY, it is now illegal to ask about salary history during hiring. Just FYI for everyone who may be job hunting there.

      1. Holly*

        It’s only illegal in NYC. The bill is currently being put forward on the state level but hasn’t passed yet.

    2. Bostonian*

      Yeah, the only end game here is to eventually leave.

      You may *really* like the work you do and the people you work with now, but that is almost certainly going to be tainted by the fact that you never get a raise, probably by the 1 or 2 year mark, when you’ve begun making increasingly higher contributions. You’re not going to enjoy the position as much when you feel undervalued and unappreciated, plus, as you said, you have bills to pay!

      1. The Original K.*

        And odds are good that turnover will be high (justifiably, as has been said) so you may not even end up with colleagues you like. People will always leave jobs.

  16. Theresa T*

    OP didn’t say where they learned it from, but I’d also take that with a grain of salt that the company doesn’t offer raises if it came from other employees who were, say, lackluster.

    When I first started at my most recent role, I kept hearing, “They don’t give raises ever!” Turns out the people who were saying that were people who didn’t really deserve merit raises. Eight years later, and I’ve always gotten a raise when I’ve asked (and even sometimes when I didn’t). Others who started after me and were part of a culture change at the office have also gotten raises.

    1. KHB*

      Yeah, the wording in the letter makes it sound like maybe the company just doesn’t give out annual raises as a matter of course, not that no one who asks for a raise ever gets one.

      That’s still a terrible policy, because inflation is a thing that exists, so COL increases should be too. It’s also a great way to ensure that men (who are socialized to ask for more) are systematically paid more than women. But it’s a slightly less dire situation than “your starting salary is your salary forever and ever amen.”

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Basically all salary negotiation is a great way to ensure men are systematically paid more than women (and white people are paid more than people of color). I am a very strong believer in no-haggle policies and that salaries should be disclosed in all job postings.

    2. GermanGirl*

      Yup, this.

      Also, some people don’t count COLA as a “real” raise. Everybody here gets COLA and if you’ve done very well, you can get a merit raise on top of that (but there is a cap for merit raises depending on the position). People who’ve been there a long time and are on the last or second to last step of the merit raise ladder told me “oh, the company is so stingy with raises” when that isn’t the case at all.

      1. Snark*

        I mean, it’s not really a raise! It’s just keeping your salary on par with inflation and costs – otherwise, you’re actually taking a pay cut yearly.

        1. GermanGirl*

          Yes, but “the company doesn’t give raises” is a much much worse situation than “the company doesn’t give raises but does do COLA” – if the first, start job searching after a year even if it is your dream job. If the second, you can in good conscience stay for a couple of years and be somewhat picky about your next job.

          And depending on how OP heard of this “the company doesn’t do raises” thing, it might be the second kind of “no raises but COLA”.

          Or it might even be the third kind (COLA plus merit raises) but the people telling the story either didn’t merit a raise or have reached the top of the salary band for that position a while ago and are unwilling to move into a more challenging position – as happened in my experience.

    3. Cobol*

      I can see that, but there’s lots of people here saying they’ve worked in the same situation. Definitely it’s not something that’s fine a lot, but a few companies apparently do it

      1. Theresa T*

        Oh, totally agree. It could go either way. I just really meant don’t go into that first meeting where you ask for a raise expecting immediate defeat. (Or worse, don’t not ask for one because you assume you already know the answer.)

    4. OP*

      I heard the same thing from both the underperforming pessimist and the high performing unofficial second-in-command. I didn’t ask them separately, however…..hmm!

  17. Dr. Pepper*

    Stay for a couple years, get everything you can out of this job, then move the fuck on to greener pastures. This company values its employees so little that it essentially gives them a pay cut each year. Think about that. Working there will get you a pay cut every year. Think hard.

    Don’t get emotionally invested, learn all you can and get the most experience possible, then find a company that cares- even slightly- about its employees. Mine that position for everything you can get and set your sights on something better. It’s fine to start somewhere crappy, just don’t think you have to stay there because that’s all there is.

  18. Agent J*

    I wonder if “we don’t give out raises” is in reality “the way we give out raises is very subjective”. I can see a company telling staff not to expect raises so they don’t have to explain how they give them out.

    Once you’ve been there for awhile and have built some relationships with coworkers, you may get more insight into why the company operates this way and if there are any exceptions to the rule.

    1. Sutemi*

      The problem with that, is when they way they give raises is subjective it means people get raises for being good negotiators and not for providing value to their company. It also tends to systematically reward mediocre white guys with gumption over all the other employees. Annual reviews of everyone’s compensation are much more fair.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Or people get raises for being besties with their manager. Seen that one happen before. There was no negotiating, you just knew that if you weren’t super close friends with management, you weren’t getting squat.

    2. Kimmybear*

      This was my old job. Performance reviews were haphazardly done and raises were tied to performance reviews. Even when I asked for a review, I only had one every 3 years. The raises were substantial but still annoying. They also gave bonuses at random as well as at the end of the year. Dysfunction of a small company.

  19. Erin*

    This is absolutely something that should have been disclosed at the offer stage when you were discussing salary and other benefits. You said you found out after you accepted, so I’m assuming it wasn’t brought up until after that initial conversation.

    I agree with Alison. Since you otherwise seem excited about the job and presumably will find the work rewarding, there’s no reason to job hop (which of course wouldn’t look good on your resume). Stay at least a year, or Alison’s recommended two, and then hightail it out of there.

  20. animaniactoo*

    A company that doesn’t give raises and only shares small variable annual bonuses dependent on company performance* (unlike companies that give raises AND these kinds of bonuses) should be expecting that employees will find themselves a “raise” in the form of new employment elsewhere at the appropriate time mark.

    *Not gonna lie – this pretty much IS how bonuses should be determined and shared. The idea that companies give large bonuses – usually to the upper level management – despite having a negative or barely positive balance sheet for the year has led to insanity like the Sears execs getting major bonuses while the company is busy filing for bankruptcy and the pension fund is still massively underfunded.

    1. sequitur*

      Our bonus system is a 10% share of annual profit, distributed evenly between all employees regardless of seniority (they do pro-rate it for people who joined mid-year or worked part-time); it works really well and there’s zero resentment around it.

    1. Robyn*

      FWIW – That’s not my experience as a state employee. We get step increases for every year in a position up to 9 or 10 steps, and our union (usually successfully) negotiates COLAs of varying sizes in every contract.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Sadly, not my experience as a state employee. We get the union COLAS but no step increases ever. We’re told it’s possible but it never happens to anyone.

      2. Doodle*

        Exempt employee and we do not have steps. Also, I’m in a so-called “right to work” state, so forming a union and collective bargaining are not available — there’s a state employees association that is working towards these goals, but it is a long, slow process and I’ll be retired before it happens.

      3. blackcat*

        In many states, state employees cannot unionize by law. I think how state employees are treated varies TREMENDOUSLY based on the state, particularly whether or not they are union.

      4. ShiningBartender*

        The approach you describe — step increases based on seniority — can also have wildly negative consequences.
        – Longer term employees compensated at way above market rates
        – Huge unfunded pension liabilities because pension benefits are usually based on ending salary (or a formula that includes ending salary)
        – Pay increases based on seniority, not on effectiveness or performance
        – No way to reward really high performers other than promotions — but no promotion slots are available because the higher paid, low performers won’t leave
        – Difficulty recruiting and retaining new/younger employees because the person sitting next to them and doing the same job is paid much much more
        You see this often in public safety (police and fire) organizations. It can be a real disaster.

    2. merp*

      Yeahh.. these responses are making me side-eye my own job a little bit. This year staff are getting a 1% merit raise (lol) but they set the eligibility date so far back that many (including me obviously haha) aren’t even getting that. Feels pretty frustrating.

    3. Pinky Pie*

      Having worked in states without unions, yes indeedy. States don’t really care about long term retention anymore.

  21. Antilles*

    One other point to note with the math: Raises compound over time, while bonuses don’t.
    As a simplified example: Let’s assume you have a base salary in 2019 of $50k.
    If you get a 10% annual raise, then you make $55k in 2020, then $60,500 in 2021, and so on. But if you get that a 10% annual bonus and zero raise, then you make $55k in 2020 (same), but again $55k in 2021 (much less) and the gap in actual pay just gets worse and worse the longer you go.

      1. yup*

        Not more heavily taxed… They are just withheld differently. Once you file your taxes, it all evens out.

        1. doreen*

          And you can even avoid the extra withholding. I’m a state employee and frequently we will get a raise retroactive to the date the last union contract expired- which could be a year or more. We know in advance which paycheck will have the retro money , so people frequently change their withholding for that check and then change it back.

      2. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Not if they don’t put you over into the next tax bracket. The withholding, on the other hand, is higher in the period you receive a bonus as the withholding is calculated as if you earned that gross amount every pay period. When you file your taxes, you;ll find it all evens out.

        What you miss, though, is that if you’ll be getting a refund you’ll have missed out on any gains on that income if you had been able to invest it for the interim OR if you had needed that money to pay for things you otherwise had to pay interest on credit cards for.

  22. Arielle*

    I used to work for a boss that did exactly this – he would never raise my salary but gave bonuses at the end of the year. Apart from everything else that’s already been said, bonuses are taxed differently than your regular salary (not sure if this is universal, it was true in NYC) so I got to keep WAY less of that money than if it had just been applied to my salary and spread throughout the course of the year.

    1. silverpie*

      Not speaking to the city/state tax issues of New York, but in terms of federal income taxes, that’s an illusion. The bonus does have a higher *withholding* percentage, but that’s because of the way brackets work—if it had been in your salary, the total withholding would still be the same (if it’s set up correctly).

      But once you are filing, your income is your income, be it regular or bonus.

  23. hello*

    Oh dear, my job doesn’t give raises or promotions either, or annual cost of living raises. They also won’t give us performance reviews even though in our employee handbook it says otherwise, because they are afraid we’ll ask for a raise if we get a review.

    1. Rebecca*

      No performance reviews here, either, and our handbook states they should be done yearly. I think it’s also because we’d ask for raises if we got good reviews.

      1. hello*

        Yes I think that is our issue as well. They’ve said as much out loud. Doesn’t help that bosses brag that they aren’t the highest paid employee.

      1. J.E.*

        If performance reviews are supposedly required but they are never given, aren’t the higher ups ever asked to present reviews? Do the boss’s boss(es) not ask to see any documentation?

      2. JustaTech*

        I might give myself a performance review, just so I remember what I did in a year and if there are things *I* want to improve on.
        We had to do our self-reviews in a huge rush this year in the middle of major computer problems and I almost forgot the *huge* project I drove through (on very little warning and a very short time frame).

        But yeah, they’re better if they come with a raise.

    2. Hallowflame*

      Oh, this sounds like my first job out of college! No performance reviews, no COL or merit raises, and no bonuses. The only way to increase your pay was to schedule a meeting with your manager and make a case for why you deserve one (and it was explicitly stated in an all-staff meeting that COL was not a valid reason), which wasn’t easy because the work was mostly data entry/verification with little room to shine. The lower managers were also notorious for shifting workloads around frequently for some people to keep them from ever really finding a groove with their work, which made it even harder to make a case for a raise.

    3. anon for this*

      My employer does do cost of living increases but no merit raises. What sucks about this system is that most employees start as (paid) interns, so no matter how long you’ve been at the company, you’re pretty much stuck at intern pay forever. And the intern pay tends to fluctuate quite a bit, so you can end up with someone with 5 years at the company making less than a new intern.

    4. Ella Vader*

      We get performance reviews, but we don’t get raises. I work in a small law firm, and we’ve had several lean years of not having any big clients come in for defense work. Even the partners had to take a cut (the firm president let that slip during my last review.)

  24. Rebecca*

    My company is infamous for not giving raises, either, and touts the end of year bonus based on a flat percent for everyone as something they do in lieu of a raise. There is literally no incentive to do a better job than the person at the next desk because – no merit increases, and you get the same bonus percent as a slacker. This year, for the first time in about 7 or 8 years (it’s been so long I’d have to research it!) I got a 2.6% raise. It’s not really even enough to make much of a difference in my paycheck, unfortunately, I mean, the number will probably go up about $10 per paycheck, but realistically, I’ve lost so much ground due to no increases that I’ll never make that up. I have excellent “Cadillac” health insurance at a reasonable rate, so I’m grateful for that, and I’m in my mid 50’s, and probably won’t be in this state (or rural crappy job market) for the rest of my life, so I’m just sort of putting up with it. The OP doesn’t have to – I say, move on now.

    I love this: “Most importantly, your company so devalues its employees’ contributions that it doesn’t think your value increases over time and doesn’t think it needs to pay you for that.” Personally, I think the only reason I got a raise this year is because we’ve lost so many workers to other companies in the area who provide more paid holidays, more vacation, and actually give raises, they’re trying to stop the bleed.

  25. Mona Lisa*

    I’m assuming the LW is an a for-profit industry, but the not receiving raises has been super common in my experience with higher education. We receive a cost of living increase that is tied to our performance reviews, but getting a raise typically requires a reclassification of the job. It takes a lot of effort and paperwork with HR to get that approved in addition to the increase in budget line items.

    The whole system is terrible and only results in high turnover of the most capable people. LW, this isn’t a dream job if the company doesn’t value its employees enough to try and retain them. Once you have a couple of years, take your talents where they’ll be rewarded appropriately.

    1. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Same experience when I worked at a university. We got COL increases only. You’d have to move to a new role to get a raise. Benefits were nice though, like 22 days of vacation plus the week of Christmas…

      1. J.E.*

        Another university employee here. I left my comment almost saying the same things, then came back and saw several more university employee comments. Glad I’m not alone, but sad that higher ed does this too.

    2. Gabriela*

      If the increase is tied to your performance reviews, isn’t that a merit raise? That is how it works at my university, almost every year I’ve worked here (5 years), we have been eligible for a 2-3% merit raise based on your performance evaluation. For any kind of meaningful raise (10% or more), you do have to move into a different position with a higher salary grade.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        My university specifically refers to them as COLA, and the raises cap out around 2%. There are bands that determine whether one receives the full amount based on the annual review scores.

    3. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      A “raise” just means a salary increase. A raise can be characterized in multiple ways: a cost of living increase, a merit increase, a market adjustment, etc.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        Ok, sure, we could argue the semantics of it, but my university only gives me a “raise” annually that sometimes covers the year’s inflation rate. The fact remains that I can’t get a merit raise to adjust for extra value added without finding a new job.

    4. Old Biddy*

      This is what happens at my current job at a University – my average COL increase/raise has been around 3% except for the year there was a salary freeze. However, I was at a dysfunctional former startup before that, with a load of sexism to boot, and our raises weren’t much better, even when we got promoted.

  26. Gumption*

    Get what you can from this place and when you feel that you’ve learned/accomplished what you can, start your job search.

    I worked at a place like this. Three years, same salary. The Xmas bonus was based on performance…but there were no formal performance reviews (that’s the only way I can reconcile that I didn’t get a bonus that first year was based on one mistake I made). Employee of the month also got cash. And only C-suite were allowed Post-Its (mid-90s job). Their other benefits were standard and nothing to crow about.

    When I left (for a higher salary elsewhere) and I mentioned the salary to my old boss, he said, yeah, there was little chance you’d have gotten a raise (despite changing departments and learning new skills and excelling at them). Thing was, turnover was fairly low at this place, and there were many who had been there for years and years.

    1. Jadelyn*

      Wait. I’m sorry. Only C-suite…were allowed…post-its????

      I…genuinely don’t know how to respond to that.

      1. Rebecca*

        I buy my own Post It notes. We’re not allowed to use our supply budget to buy them. I wish I were kidding.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I guess I’ve just been taking my employer’s generous paper goods policies for granted. What even.

      2. Gumption*

        94 to 97 I was there. And I kid you not. They were “too expensive” to buy for the regular staff on floors one to four. How we managed to work without them, I’m not sure as they are very much in use by everyone today.

        They penny pinched where they could. The ladies who printed out invoices on paper all day only had ONE desk phone between them. Personal calls or any kind of a call must have been a challenge.

        And, it was an open office, long before that was a Thing. Wide open. Phones ringing all day and NO voicemail. We were customs brokers so a lot of calls from customers wanting to ship, estimate duty costs or trying to get their stuff released at the border. No privacy at all. No boardroom (it was the library on my floor).

        I can only hope they’ve modernized since then…

        1. Jadelyn*

          My flabber, it is gasted. (Also, this is making me picture the workplace from 9 to 5. Which I watched for the first time with my mom several years ago, and about ten minutes in I turned to her with a horrified look and said “They’re exaggerating this, right? This can’t have been how it really was.” And she shrugged and said “Not really exaggerated, no. Not all workplaces were that bad, but it wasn’t unusual either.” I’ve never felt so lucky to be a millennial.)

        2. doreen*

          I always find it amusing when someone thinks “open offices” are new. Every place I worked before 1994 had nearly everyone’s desk in an open area. The places I worked after 1994 had support staff in open areas until 2007, when everyone finally got at least a cubicle

      1. Gumption*

        Snort! I love this idea. Sadly, I think people stayed because they didn’t think they could do better. Those who could, left. It’s a specialized industry, customs brokerage, and while there were competitors in town, there’s weren’t that many to run to.

  27. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Dear OP,
    Here’s the reality. You are not naive. You are in a crap place with a bullshit policy. I have been with my company for 20 years. I’ve consistently received raises as high or higher than my team members.* My salary is a little over 50% more than I made when I started. And I’m making less money; perhaps more precisely, I can buy less. Insurance went up, car payments went up. McDonald’s dollar value menu items are now $1.19.

    *This is because we have a merit based system with clear guides and goals. Not some phantom, I mean “variable” bonus system that may or may not pan out no matter what you do. Please start looking for a new job now.

  28. Mike B.*

    The nice thing is that you’re under no obligation to stay long enough for this dumb policy to matter. Stay a year and then tell them frankly in the exit interview that you couldn’t continue to work without the potential for increased salary. And explain the policy to any interviewer who asks you about your short tenure, though one of these short stays on your resume isn’t a huge deal. People will understand what a dealbreaker it is.

  29. MCL*

    I work at a state university, so this is perspective from a very different context. State U also doesn’t really do “merit raises.” They exist on paper, but are not given in any tangible way. What we do have are title changes. So, you might get hired in a junior role but then advance to a more senior title every few years and thus your pay increases. The trouble of course is that at some point you hit the max seniority in a role and can’t move past that title (and therefore salary). So, it’s not quite the same as a raise (and we don’t negotiate for raises), but that’s the way salaries increase over time along with COL adjustments and small merit-based bonuses (both of which are which are rare but do occur).

    That said, I totally understand that this scenario is pretty specific to government pay context. If the above is not how it might work in your company, that’s pretty ridiculous. Give them a year or two if you’d like, and then get paid more by getting a different job.

  30. J.E.*

    I work at a public university and it can be like this at a lot of public universities. As state legislatures cut how much funding they give to higher ed, there have been years long stretches with no COL increase. Raises are also rare. It’s like if you want more money you have to move up and out into a higher level position. Rarely will someone get more money that isn’t a COL increase by staying in the same position based on merit. That sucks because, as has been mentioned, someone who goes above and beyond can be making what someone in the same position who slacks all time makes. Annual reviews have no bearing on raises either. Even if I got a higher degree, if I stayed in my current position, it would only get me something like $500 more a year. I’d still have to change jobs for extra pay. I think about leaving academia, but there are too many other perks keeping me here, like all the holiday time off we get and it’s one of the few places these days that still basically has pensions. I have a spouse who makes good money, but if I didn’t I’d have to look around the university for a higher level position or leave.

  31. your favorite person*

    “You are not naive, and you are not an entitled millennial. And please toss that phrase, even when you’re using it ironically or to self-deprecate. Y’all were never entitled, and let’s not play into that narrative.”

    Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, but this actually means a lot that you said that. I know you, Alison, are not a millennial but having been told this basically as soon as the recession started (when we started our careers) for asking for basic things like health insurance, a livable wage, and maybe a pay increase or two has kind of made me feel like we are still asking for too much sometimes.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I hear you. I’m an older millennial, and it really does mean a lot to me to hear people who aren’t themselves millennials speaking up to defend us. We’re so used to having to stand up for ourselves, it makes it a really kind gesture when Gen X-ers or Boomers step up and counter their contemporaries’ BS for us. (Also, the type of person who calls millennials “entitled” for wanting a functioning economy isn’t exactly going to listen to millennials arguing the point – but they might listen to their peers.)

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      +1000 and I’m not pregnant, so no hormones to blame it on. It is so incredibly refreshing to see someone fight back in very plain, matter-of-fact terms as a Not Millennial. We Millennials appreciate that. And it is so, so incredibly tiresome to *constantly* hear/see that Millennials Are To Blame For All The Awful Things, usually followed by “but not *youuuu*, EC, *you* don’t count!” Um, cool, I guess, but could you not try to blame a giant section of the population for a variety of things that are so incredibly nuanced and different from Back Then? It helps absolutely nothing. Every generation has differences from the previous ones, and since circumstances change (this thing called progress, ya’ll), everyone’s experiences are going to be different, dammit. Everyone’s just trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got.

  32. Jadelyn*

    One thing I didn’t see Alison mention regarding what not giving merit raises means – market salaries and cost of labor fluctuates over time. Barring a recession, the trend is usually upwards, because inflation. If they hired you at $50k/yr, but next year they can’t find anyone who will take that, so they offer $55k/yr and bring someone on with that salary – now you’re getting paid less than a brand new person in your role. Not only do you wind up with rockstars getting paid the same as slackers, but not doing raises also inevitably means you’re going to get some really ass-backward comp distribution along seniority lines, where the newest and least experienced people are making MORE than their peers who’ve been there longer and have more experience, because the company is still paying the old-timers whatever crap salary they were able to offer in 2010, but new hires are being brought in at 2019 salaries.

    (Annual raises aside, this is ALSO why companies should periodically review the salary distribution within jobs or job families, to see if they’ve developed any issues like this because they weren’t paying attention. We just had to do several dozen “compression adjustments” for folks in our lower-level jobs, since our internal minimum wage has increased every year for the last few years, so we had brand new CSR 1’s making the same as CSR 2’s who’ve been here for 5 years, and that’s not good.)

    1. Sara without an H*

      Yes, it’s called “salary compression,” and it’s the bane of higher education. At one university I worked for, we had new hires and 20-year veterans making the same salary. The effect on morale of this discovery was — not good.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Ooh, I bet it wasn’t…I can imagine that compression issues would be even worse for any industry where rigid salary bands are a thing. We at least had some flexibility when doing our compression adjustments, and for the most part the response seemed to be more gratitude that we noticed and fixed it, rather than resentment that it happened in the first place.

    2. mcr-red*

      The last time there was a federal wage hike, there were several long-time employees who got a raise. To MINIMUM WAGE.

  33. CupcakeCounter*

    Your company sucks.
    Learn what you can and find something better in a couple of years. Since you say you enjoy the work and environment outside of this problem, try to work on some projects that you can use on your resume and when you have a nice boost on your resume look for a better position with better pay – you will at least have the luxury of finding the right fit since you won’t be desperate to get out.
    I would also present your increased value to the company at an appropriate time with your manager and see what happens. Its worth asking for after a year or so if you can point to accomplishments that brought value to the company and increased your value as a contributor.

  34. stitchinthyme*

    My last job was somewhat similar — the policy as stated in the employee handbook was basically that raises were given at the sole discretion of the owner. In practice, that meant that in nearly 5 years there, I got a single raise. (The one time I asked for performance feedback, the answer I got was, “If I had a problem with your work, I’d tell you.”) Several other people left because of this, and in at least one case the owner offered the raise when the guy gave his notice — to which he replied, “No, I should not have to threaten to quit just to get compensated fairly.” When I gave my own notice and told him that was one of my main reasons, the owner protested that he’d just been about to give me one.

    Not a single company I interviewed with batted an eye when I told them my reason for wanting to leave that company. In the software industry, annual increases are standard.

    So I’d tend to agree that the LW should stay a year or two, as long as they’re comfortable with the salary they’re getting, and then move on. Not many potential employers will penalize you for wanting to be compensated fairly.

  35. Aaron*

    My first job was at a family-run business that had basically not grown for a decade. They just went through the same cycle of slight to moderate growth, leading to more hiring, followed by slight to moderate contraction, leading to really terrifying rounds of layoffs. During one of their bigger downturns (before I’d joined), they not only stopped giving raises but cut everyone’s salary by 10% to avoid layoffs. Because of poor executive leadership (the CEO was a scientist who knew next to nothing about business but had made just enough correct gambles to keep the business afloat), performance reviews eventually stopped happening, and they never reinstated raises in any way, and so everyone working there somehow seemed to accept that they’d just never get raises again.

    Suffice it to say, this place was terribly dysfunctional – I just happened to be part of the only sane management structure and team there (led by the CEO’s actually business savvy and caring son-in-law) that was functional and normal. I’d wager that any place that doesn’t give raises has other significant dysfunctions and cannot be a good place to work long-term.

  36. Grouchy 2 cents*

    Why do companies persist with this fantasy that we’re lucky to work for them? Yo, I work for money. If that money comes with a convivial workplace that’s a bonus. And maybe if I was a better person I’d consider getting paid less to perform a public service (yay Federal workers! Glad you’re back making our country less of a nightmare!)

    But Company, please don’t delude yourselves into thinking that I’d come and file your TPS reports for free.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Or, they think because they offer generous PTO and other “perks” that you should be happy with a miserable salary. Yeah time off is nice. So is having MONEY to enjoy the time off.

      I believe it is true the company has no raises because of the information about the “small variable bonus.” That doesn’t come from slackers. That can only come from someone who really knows what is going on.

      OP as others have said, learn what you can. Your keeping track of your accomplishments won’t help you get a raise there, but it will help when it comes time to create your resume for your job hunt.

    2. Works in IT*

      With all this emphasis on “volunteer in your field until you get enough experience to get hired” why would they not expect you to file reports for free? Companies get to save money exploiting people who are desperate.

  37. WellRed*

    I recently realized its been 8 years since I had any sort of raise! (I knew it had been way too long, but where do the years go?). I want to ask for a COLA raise, but it’s also scary. We are a tiny media company that didn’t even get our token bonus this year at Christmas and last week 1,000 people were laid off from media jobs across the country. And I live in an area where there are not a lot of jobs doing what I do (or that pay even less than what I earn for crazier schedules).

    1. mcr-red*

      I’m in the same position, WellRed. It’s probably been about that long since I got a raise, and even then it was like 10 cents an hour. The last time I got a significant raise was when I was going to quit, and they gave me the money the other job offered (that other job has since shuttered, so I guess it was good I stayed) There’s not a lot of job opportunities in my field anywhere, let alone where I live and I’ve applied for anything vaguely in my skill set for YEARS and haven’t gotten anywhere.

  38. MLB*

    Wow. I would start job hunting immediately. It’s one thing if a company decides to not give raises one year to save some money and avoid say, laying people off. But to never give raises? That’s complete and total bullshit. The cost of living increases year after year, so your salary should reflect those changes (unless of course you suck at your job and are a total slacker). It’s unrealistic for a company to think that’s completely ok, regardless of the other great benefits they offer, because those other benefits are what you do when the company can’t afford the raise (or only offer a small one) in a particular year.

  39. Akcipitrokulo*

    Personally, I’d be job hunting as soon as I had it confirmed that was their policy. That is not OK.

  40. logicbutton*

    Have you ever had a job with coworkers who had been working there for 20 years or more? They were unbelievably valuable employees, right? They knew the job inside and out, they knew everyone who could get anything done, and if they all left at once, the business would be screwed, right?

    Can you imagine if that employer were paying them at the same salary they started at? Less money per paycheck than even the newest, greenest employee (since surely the starting salaries would have risen with inflation)? Imagine what an insult that would be. That is what your employer is trying to do.

  41. Gazebo Slayer*

    It’s… not that weird to me that you company doesn’t give raises? I mean, I’ve only ever gotten an actual raise without switching jobs once in my life and I am 37 with a master’s degree. My employer is giving a… semi-raise? (It’s complicated, I get small variable bonuses on top) but only because my state raised its legal minimum wage.

    I mean, I am constantly gobsmacked that everyone here seems to have PTO and retirement plans and company health insurance and a vast array of benefits that are pretty foreign to my experience and that of a large segment of the American working population. I’ve only had one permanent benefited job ever, and numerous people I know are similarly situated.

    1. EPLawyer*

      The jobs with benefits exist. Look for them. Don’t settle because “this is what I’ve always found.”

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Oh, they exist of course, but they’re not for people with my abysmal employment record! My plan is freelancing from now on, in gigs where no one looks at my crater of a resume.

        1. EPLawyer*

          I don’t think your resume is as bad as you think. Unless you have been fired multiple times for non-performance, you have SOMETHING to offer a company that has decent benefits and salary.

          Read around the archives about sprucing up the old resume. Heck if you can afford, hire Alison to give it a look see. Bet you your non-existent raise she can help you improve it.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            …thing is, I have been fired multiple times. So at this point it’s too late. I can’t change the past, so I’m limited to work where no one looks at your past. And I’m far from the only person in that position.

            I suggest googling “jobs for felons” or “online jobs for felons” if you’re in a position like mine – even if, like me, you actually don’t have a criminal record, just a really bad job record.

            1. eplawyer*

              I said non-performance. Like you just didn’t do the job. Not struggled, not too longer to train. Not “wasn’t the right fit.” Flat out — this person is not even making an effort, shows up late, leaves early, you know the Ferguses we all complain about.

              If you are here and posting, I don’t think you are a Fergus. You have some skills. Even jobs for felons have raises and pensions, etc. Believe me, I work with some low income, low skilled people as clients, they got pensions and raises.

    2. Ali G*

      Don’t settled because that’s all you’ve experienced. I am equally flummoxed by what you wrote. I am 40 with a Master’s and have only ever had jobs with competitive pay, generous PTO/sick time, benefits, annual COLA/opportunity for merit increases, bonuses and more. And 2/3 of my 15+ year career is in the non-profit world!

      1. Ali G*

        I should add that I don’t think I am “special.” I just wanted to say that we shouldn’t all believe that our “normal” is all there is (I learned this in the other direction recently when I was job searching, so I get it).

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Yeah, it’s weird. (In my experience anyway!) The only jobs where I didn’t get a raise is where I was only there for a year or so, so didn’t get included in salary review cycle. But they had them.

  42. Singin in the Rain*

    I agree with Alison, OP. I was in a job for 3 years that did not give COL or merit raises, just a bi-annual bonus that was tied to company performance as well as your own. When the market is going well, that’s great, but when it inevitably goes down and company performance suffers, I’d rather rely on a salary than a bonus. Alison is absolutely right when she says that a stagnant salary means that you lose buying power over time; my rent rises every year – so should my salary. This was a major reason for why I left and many other people at the company were unhappy about it as well.

    Alison is also correct that it prices you out of the competitive market. I left my old company in August (and have already gotten a 4.5% COL raise since joining my new company in that same month, in addition to the large salary increase I was initially offered). My old company still has not found a person to fill my role in part because salaries for this position have skyrocketed in recent years and I suspect they don’t want to pay anyone much more than what they offered me 3.5 years ago. Times have changed and a salary from 3.5 years ago isn’t going to cut it in this market.

  43. Sara without an H*

    I think this letter illustrates yet another danger in the idea of a “dream job.” You can fall in love with a job, but it won’t love you back. I recall a number of letters from people who put up with real abuse at work, but didn’t want to leave because they “loved” the job or their co-workers, and wanted Allison to come up with some kind of Jedi mind trick to make management stop mistreating them. It doesn’t work that way.

    It is nice to like your work and your co-workers, but it’s not reason enough to stay in a bad situation when other alternatives exist. Keep in touch with your work friends via social media and go someplace where you’re respected for your accomplishments and paid what you’re worth.

    1. J.E.*

      This! I also think some people are just afraid of change or are of the better the devil you know than the devil you don’t mindset.

  44. Aurora Leigh*

    My company hasn’t given anyone a raise in 8 years . . . becuase they’re losing money every year and I basically expect them to close next year — they’ll have been open 100 years, the owner will be old enough to draw retirement, and I don’t think his kids are interested in a failing company . . .

    So, OP, I womder if something like that is going on at your company?

    I have 2 years here so far and am low key job searching. I will likely have to take a pay cut, though so I’ll probably stick around until the bitter end. I have a side gig I could increase my hours at, and we could get by on partner’s salary if need be.

  45. Judith*

    I work for a small company (~35 employees) and the last time a cost of living raise was given out (an extra dollar an hour for everyone… because no one is salaried) was 2014, and it’s very unlikely anyone will get a raise in the near future. There are no bonuses, either. Unless you count the turkey we all get at Christmas.

  46. nnn*

    I wish we could ask the employer what they’re thinking. Do they not see the need to retain employees? Do they actively want employees to leave after a year or two? Is corporate memory irrelevant to what they do, or have they not considered it? Or do they think they’re so awesome that people would be happy to work there?

    Are they aware that this policy will make retention difficult, or are they obliviously wondering why no one will stick around?

  47. Xarcady*

    Even my part-time retail job gives a small merit increase each year. And when I say small, I know someone who got a 10 cent an hour raise one year. But he was the lowest. Most people get about 25-40 cents an hour increases. Which is not much, but it is somewhat better than no raise at all.

    And there are small quarterly bonuses if your store hits all the sales goals. I think the last one our store got worked out to 20 cents an hour–your bonus amount is based on the number of hours you worked that quarter.

    If I were the OP, I’d spend a year there, ask for a raise, and if I didn’t get one, my resume and cover letter would be ready to go.

  48. Junior Dev*

    I’m guessing this company is one that’s supposed to be “fun” and “cool” to work for?

    I worked for a comic book company once. It was horrible, I was underpaid for my skillset, management was toxic, and they hadn’t given anyone a raise in years. They finally fired me but they could afford to do that given how many people would *love* to work in the comics industry and would be willing to overlook the red flags.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      We have a company in our area that is famous for two things: 1) paying people below market rate, 2) having two slides in the office that go from the second floor to the first. I guess they think that the slides somehow make up for low pay. They do not. This company does put a lot of effort into maintaining the image of a “fun company”.

  49. NotTodaySatan*

    It is amazing how common this is though! I have worked for a company like this! Leave as soon as you feel undervalued is my only advice. In my situation, it was in academia where my manager did not understand how the benefits of tenured faculty didn’t translate to FTE staff. So staff did not get any merit based raises, and the only COL raises were by state mandate. His reasoning was that faculty did not get merit based raises, outside of the tenure ramp up; and they worked more hours, had more diverse responsibilities, etc. etc. so “it would be unfair to give raises to staff.” You guessed it, the department was full of unhappy staff who did the bare minimum of their job descriptions and turnover was super high. Also that kind of reasoning made the work environment toxic as hell, and made getting out and into a higher paying job very hard for the reasons Allison laid out.

  50. Elle*

    It sounds like this may just be a rumor. You could still ask for a raise in a year, listing all of the things you just did and see what happens. You could explain it could mean looking for other work, and if they really want to keep you, they might!

  51. Tisiphone*

    Sounds to me like this company doesn’t want experienced people or long-term employees. They’re like my old tech support job. I once issued a complaint to the management about how morale was in the toilet and people were getting sick a lot due to the mandatory overtime that would never go away.

    Their answer to me was “People burn out in a couple years. It’s the way it goes. Oh well.”

    I shared that answer with as many co-workers as I could. And when I found a better job somewhere else, I felt generous by giving a three-day notice.

      1. Tisiphone*

        It got worse.
        I was on the Product Support team and that meant mostly returning calls and solving issues via email. I worked Monday through Friday days and had holidays off.

        When they dissolved our team and sent us back to incoming calls, Our day shift became a 6-day midshift (10am to 8pm – yes, that’s a nine hour day plus lunch) with less than a week notice, I almost walked out right then. But I had a class of new phone techs I had a training scheduled for immediately after the announcement meeting.

        So I went to the training, told them that nobody was ever going to get a day shift, and that nobody should ever expect a two-day weekend or a holiday to be with their families. I told all of these new hires what to expect for working conditions, holding nothing back, And then I went into my planned spiel.

        I did not get into trouble for this. In fact, I put in my notice via coworker when I went off of the Automatic Call Distribution queue to listen to a missed incoming call.

        The call was a job offer. I called back right away and while I was talking to the manager at the new job and was discussing when I could start, my coworker came over, told me the manager told her to tell me to get back on the phone.

        I told my new manager that I’ll be there bright and early the following Monday. And then I told my coworker that no, it’s lunch time and that call she interrupted was from the job I just accepted. And walked out.

        And almost didn’t go back.

  52. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    I agree with AAM. OP should put a hard 2 year time limit on this situation, unless a respectable merit raise is given during that time (then OP can reassess). After one full year of employment, OP should start looking for a new job.

    I am truly dismayed by all the comments from people who have been at jobs for years and never received any raise. (and by “raise”, I simply mean a salary increase of any sort) Folks, please at least interview for a new job, to see what your skills and experience are worth. Don’t cheat yourself because of complacency. Annual raises are normal.

  53. ThatLibTech*

    “Y’all were never entitled, and let’s not play into that narrative.”

    This may sound ridiculous, but you have no idea how much that means to hear sometimes.

    1. Junior Dev*

      I have started every request for work advice with “please don’t tell me I’m entitled or need to change my attitude” since receiving comments on that on several forum posts in a row that had nothing whatsoever to do with my attitude.

  54. LV426*

    My company used to give raises but 2 years ago we got bought out by another company and that company’s culture was that they don’t do raises. They only give quarterly bonuses based on the entire company performance. I have yet to have a full bonus paid out. Generally it’s been about 20% payout and because it’s paid as a separate bonus it’s taxed to hell so basically I’ve gotten around $150 after taxes for my “bonus”. Since I have 16 years experience and they cut my pay when they took over I threw a fit to upper management and got at least some of my salary back and I got a written guarantee that as long as my performance doesn’t drop I will get a 3% raise every year. Thankfully I can track my performance in the amount of customer installs I complete and I complete almost triple the amount of customer installs than the other 5 people on my team so I’m always at the top. But that 3% is a piddly mess compared to what we used to get. I’ve been job searching lately because I used to be able to work from home (since I’m out in the field for most of my work it was easier than driving to an office and then to a customer site) and now they’ve decided no one can work from home so I’m putting more miles on my car and they aren’t compensating me because I can only bill distance from the office to the customer sites. So if I have a customer that’s 20 min from me but the office is in the other direction by 30 min, I have to drive to the office first, then leave from there and drive to the customer site which is now 50 min away. I get paid for the 50 min but not the 30 I took to drive to the office so I’m adding 30 min that I’m not getting paid for on my car instead of just leaving from my home and only driving 20 min.
    And yes I know it makes no sense and the company would pay less in mileage if they just let me leave from home but they are being stupid.

  55. Bhet Why*

    The last time I got a COLA raise was… 2011? 2012? Not more recently than that. It was something like 2.6%. Meanwhile, my rent goes up at least 5% per year like clockwork. In the past 5 years the only way I’ve gotten more money is by switching jobs, and I am still underpaid. I have an advanced degree and have been working in nonprofits (maybe that’s my mistake!). I’m GenX and tired of “paying my dues” at low wages. But I also don’t want to manage anyone, so it’s hard to find other jobs to apply for that will make more money with no management duties. I’ll probably have to work until I’m 75.

  56. Mimi*

    This is sort of related to something that has been making me consider leaving my (also generally unfulfilling) job recently. We work on a “salary schedule” and I’ve hit the cap, meaning that the only raises from now on with be COL, which…let’s just say that I’ve been working there for five years and I’m making the same as the person who has been in the same position for literally longer than I’ve been alive AND the same as people who are just truly awful at their jobs (in my organization our union seems to make management reluctant to even talk to employees for anything not egregious). It’s disheartening, to say the least.

  57. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I interviewed at a place like that. It was a bizarre interview to begin with – the corporate recruiter who was my only contact for the interview, was an hour late. I had someone buzz me in and they started sending the other interviewers in while he was still out at lunch. I’d been given two names of the people I’d interview with, but there ended up being four or five. I got up to leave after person Number Two, but he said he’d send (name I never head before) in after him, and so on. When the recruiter finally came in, I asked about the raises and he stared at me as if I’d asked him when I’d be getting my company car. He finally said, “well we don’t do that here, but I guess if you do really well… we might give you a bonus? maybe?” I’ve been spreading the word ever since among my friends and colleagues that I knew were looking. The company is always hiring and I want people to know what they’re going to be up against.

    BTW, haven’t seen anyone mention it yet, but “no raises” also means that, if the company has a 401K match, the company match for you will never increase; because your pay never will, and it is a percentage of your pay.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Not where I work – the company match is a fixed amount, regardless of your pay level.

  58. Lumen*

    Really starting to believe that the “entitled millenial” is a myth perpetuated by employers who find it in their best interest to make you think you’re worthless and lucky to have any job at all.

    Side bar: lots of millenials are approaching 40, so let’s dispense with this idea that they are young and naive and don’t understand how the world ‘really works’.

    1. The Original K.*

      I was scrolling through the comments on Slate re: Alison’s article about open offices, and one person said she thought the opposition to them was a generational thing – she actually liked open offices because they made the office more social. Most people’s responses to that comment were “we don’t come to work to socialize, we come to work to work,” but one jumped out at me. The comment said that open offices were a generational thing the same way pensions and high salaries are – younger generations know less about what it’s like to be able to focus behind a closed door the same way we know less about what it’s like to have guaranteed security in retirement (I don’t think I know anyone my age who has a job with a pension). I found it really striking (and it was a well-liked comment).

  59. Noah*

    It’s not just that you’ll get paid the same as the slacker, you’ll end up making less than him if he joins the company later than you do because the new hires are going to tend to make more for the same position compared to the people who have been there for years.

    Query, however, whether the company values high employee turnover and doesn’t give raises for this exact reason. There are occasionally businesses that seem to like this for certain types of employees.

  60. Risha*

    My eyebrows are sky-high at all the people saying that they work for companies that don’t give raises. I hate job hunting and I can’t even picture staying for more than two years in a job like that. I’ve literally never been in a job where I didn’t automatically get a yearly raise, though the amount has varied wildly from a low of only a few thousand, up to a high of a few years in a row of around 13% (in the halcyon days of the early 90s).

    This includes the almost 5 years that I spent at one company as a contractor, where there was a contract stating my set hourly rate. My supervisor there still made sure I got yearly raises to that rate, and a short, informal performance review, and I didn’t even have to ask him for it.

    1. Risha*

      Hell, now I’m remembering when my ex-mother-in-law got a raise one year that was only 25 cents an hour. We all thought that was insultingly low at the time, but at least she got one!

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      Yep. I’d leave. To me it shows company is basically unethical – and shortsighted – as well as the effect on me personally!

  61. Rez123*

    I always find these to be interesting cultural differences. Where I’m from raises and promotions are not s big thing. Sure, people get raises and you can ask for them (in private sectors) but they are not significant increases. People get promotions by applying to the higher position. I’ve never heard anybody having a plan on how they salary increase works. So to me OP’s situation is totally normal. For us the negotiations at work is not as intense since company, union and legislation defines most of these things for us. We can’t get more PTO since law mandates how much to give. Also for us it is very important for all employees to have similar right so we cannot really negotiate individual perks etc. I always love these posts since it feels there is proof for the things I see in movies.

    1. Approval is optional*

      But surely your unions negotiate cost of living increases? Where I live most workers are covered by union negotiated enterprise agreements, but they are re-negoitated every few years and usually (if not always) include annual raises to cover COL increases. Most employees where I work are paid per such an agreement (only senior execs are excluded). High performers are ‘rewarded’ with promotions (permanent or temporary to ‘backfill’), higher duty allowances, etc, rather than individual raises, which sounds similar to what you do.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        At old job union would negotiate raise each year – it was usually around inflation. Then you got your annual review, which would give you a score from 1 (low) to 5.

        No-one every got 1, because if you were doing that badly, you’d have been let go long before annual review time. But if anyone did get 1, they didn’t get a raise.

        Score 2 – get 50% of standard. 3 gets you 100%, 4 gets you 150% and 5 got you 200%.

  62. Another Manager*

    The company I work at just restructured and along with cutting staff (they aren’t layoffs technically because you can take a significant pay cut and take a lower level position at PT), they have instituted pay scales with caps for each position. If you were already making more than the cap for your position then you are permanently frozen at that rate. If you move jobs or get promoted you will take a pay cut but may have the opportunity to eventually make more money. The way the higher ups tried to sell it was if you want more money you have to try and get promoted and that we should never have anyone “getting too comfortable” in their positions. It’s disgusting. Needless to say, I’m looking to get out as soon as I can.

  63. Jennym*

    In the mental health non profit field, this is unfortunately the norm. But here leaving and getting another job doesn’t make sense, because youre in the exact same situation. Plus I’m counting on public service loan forgiveness (although it is likely a pipe dream) so staying in non profit is essential.

  64. Professional Merchandiser*

    Ugh. Welcome to the club. The company I currently work for doesn’t give raises, either. Of course I didn’t realize that at first. Merchandising is not a way to get rich, but it used to pay fairly well, gave good mileage/car maintenance payments, and flexible hours so it was worth it. I was told after I started that you have to work five years before getting a raise. I was not happy, but this is the only merchandising company I ever worked for that gave paid vacation, paid holidays, personal days, and sick days so I figured waiting a few years for a raise would not be a big deal. Well, I have been with them seven years now and no raise. (Plus they took away my car allowance.) They don’t give bonuses either. And to make it worse, they cut me to part-time (again!!) so now I don’t get any of those anymore. I was talking to my boss about it (the no raises part) and she said the company no longer gives raises, and she doesn’t like it either, and brought it up to HER boss. Her boss told her if she tried to escalate this it would cost her her job (!!) So I may be out looking soon. I only have a couple of more years to work, but still…oh, and to frost the cake, new hires come in at a dollar an hour more than the rest of us make!!

  65. GottaGetOuttaHere*

    We don’t even get cost-of-living raises and we have to endure TWO excruciatingly-detailed performance reviews a year.

  66. Argh!*

    The best thing about this situation is that it’s a good answer to the question of why you’re leaving CurrentJob!

  67. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    OP, your company probably DOES give raises.

    It’s just that they probably only happen when someone resigns. So you wouldn’t know about it until the day comes when you drop a bombshell and notify them that you’re moving on.

    As someone (AAM?) said, you’re being devalued. Should you move on, then you might see a favorable reaction. If there’s no turnover, either the company pays top dollar *or* they are taking care of people behind the scenes *or* you’re in such an economically depressed area where any job is good.

  68. That One Person*

    Bit flabbergasted honestly. It’s not a sense of entitlement to worry about paying off loans and bills, and the fact that CoL goes up over time and you have to also deal with the interest rates on loans (and the fact that schooling simply gets more and more expensive as the years go on anyways so you likely had to pay more than your parents)…I think hoping for raises over time is VERY reasonable. Never mind the fact that you’re not going to be the same person a few years from now that you were when you started. You’ll have gained experience and personal growth, so the fact that they don’t want to pay a little extra to KEEP that experience and growth is silly in my opinion.

    If it really is a case that they don’t hand out raises, for some reason expect you to manage living on the same pay for years to come, and it’s not just a rumor from a coworker then they should (or have) come to expect that they’ll be constantly dealing with that level of employee. They’ll have to deal with constantly getting people going in the industry and then watching them leave.

  69. dumblewald*

    My company doesn’t give COL raises – just merit raises. I didn’t get a raise in my first/most recent performance review while my coworkers did. I’m confused as to whether I deserve a raise or not. My performance review was above average – generally speaking, I am good at my job according to my higher ups. I do work that clients like, and very occasionally highly commend. I’m not as good as the best/more senior people on my team, but I think I’m on the right track. However, my annual performance review occurred right after a project my manager thought was “okay, but not great”, and I think that was her basis for not giving me a raise. However, I have been at this company for more than a year at this point, and have actually trained new hires on the job. I googled this topic, but it seems like you have to be doing significantly more work than when you started to justify a merit pay raise.

  70. Candace*

    I was tenured faculty at a place where laws prevented us ever striking, and so contract negotiations went on for 7 years (twice) in the time I was there. During negotiations, you were stuck under the old contract, with NO raises, and when a new contract would finally get signed, riaes were often 1%. This was in MEGA-expensive city. Needless to say, even with tenure, retention sucked. People would stay to get it, and do a few books or huge grants and make their reputations, then use it to negotiate coming in with tenure in NextJob. They also notoriously underpaid by 20% or more. When I left, I also got a 70% raise. They constantly lost good people – and when you are losing lots of great folks in a great city, something is wrong.

  71. Struggle bus is real*

    “Y’all were never entitled, and let’s not play into that narrative.”

    Sobs in thanks, cause that’s all I’ve been hearing lately.

  72. Feeling Your Pain*

    I work for a fairly large company and they do the exact same thing, non-disclosure and all! Not only do I come to find out that there was a salary cap for my specific department, the ‘commission’ I was told I’d earn is ACTUALLY a very convoluted series of goals and percentages that ultimately means that the tens of thousands of dollars in commission I’d have to make to even MEET my annual quota, would go directly to the company and I’d never see a cent of it unless I meet an impossible goal. I’ve been in this position for less than a month and I’m already making as much as I’ll ever make, but what suuuucks is that I make as much as my coworkers who’ve been working for the same company for decades.

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