Career

Promoted Without a Pay Increase? Here’s What You Should Be Doing

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Joanne Poh

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Everything thinks a promotion is something to be happy about. But guess what—a promotion could mean you end up doing extra work for the same pay. A recent news report showed that it’s actually quite common for companies to Singapore to promote their workers without giving them a salary increase.

It gets even worse—22% of the companies surveyed admitted they had not given pay raises because they couldn’t afford to, while 7% said they felt the employee was already being overpaid and thus withheld a pay raise in order to balance things out.

If you’ve gotten the short end of the stick and your company has tried this trick and promoted you without increasing your salary, here are 4 things you should do rather than just put your head down and retreat into your cubicle.

 

The promotion may raise your employability, so learn what you can as fast as you can

There is no doubt that if you’re promoted without a raise, and your employer doesn’t intend to give you one in the near future, it’s time to leave the company.

But don’t resign right away. Depending on your situation, you might be able to pick up a few extra skills in your new role that will enable you to command a much higher pay when you finally do get a new job.

The main thing is to make sure you don’t stay in your current job longer than you have to, since you’re being undercut salary-wise.

 

Don’t stay too long in the job or you’ll be losing money

When you are promoted without a pay increase, unless your company was severely overpaying you in the first place, each day you remain in that job is an extra day that you’ll be earning less than what you could be getting elsewhere.

It’s thus in your best interests to try to get out of there as fast as you can, once you’ve learnt the necessary skills.

Give yourself a defined timeframe, perhaps six months, to actively learn as much as you can, and then cut the umbilical cord. Don’t just sit back and hope that all this new information enters your brain by osmosis. You’ve got to be pro-active about finding out everything there is to know about your new role in as short a timeframe as possible.

Remember how you started last-minute cramming for your O level geography exam two days before the actual day, and still managed to get a decent grade? That’s the kind of spirit you need to take to this role.

 

Actively search for a new job

So, you’ve been shortchanged. Unless you really, really love your job and don’t mind that you’re being made to do more work for the same pay, it’s time to leave. When you receive that promotion, ask your boss when and by how much he’ll be able to increase your pay. Indeed, you want to suss out whether your company intends to increase your pay in the first place.

If they act evasive or you aren’t satisfied with the answer, it’s probably better to start actively searching for a new job. The fact that you’ve been promoted already means you’ve been at the company for a decent amount of time, so you won’t have to fear looking like a job hopper.

 

Negotiate for more

Unless you’ve already got another job on the horizon or are so in-demand you’re giving recruiters stars in their eyes, you’re going to be stuck at your current company for quite a few months, whether you like it or not.

So negotiate the hell out of your compensation package, pointing out that you’re being asked to take on a more demanding role for the same pay. Obviously you should begin by trying to negotiate for a salary increase.

But if they refuse to budge, at least try to get some perks—an extra day or two of annual leave, sponsorship for a training course (to help you cope with all those new responsibilities), transport allowance for all those late nights or a flexible work arrangement.

11% of the companies surveyed in the above news article said they had given a promotion sans pay increase because the role needed to be filled urgently. In other words, they were desperate. Use that to your advantage.

Have you ever been promoted without a pay increase? Tell us how you handled it in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.