Question: I work for a publicly owned automotive dealership. When I was hired about two years ago, I was given my job duties. Later the same owners acquired a second auto dealership down the street and moved me there. I am now doing the accounting for both dealerships without any extra compensation.

My boss says, “Just be grateful you have a job.” What can I do?

Betty
Orlando, Florida

Answer: Dear Betty: I am hearing from so many people that they are in the same position you are in. Here are my thoughts.              

1. It is true that everyone who has a job should be grateful for that. I really can’t argue with anyone who says that every working person should be grateful that they have a job. “Counting your blessings” is an important daily activity for those who aspire to happy lives. I thank the Lord each day just for waking up to a new day. For me, having a job and earning a decent living to support my family is “icing on the cake.” However, that does not mean that you should be pleased to be overworked, underpaid, or otherwise treated poorly or unfairly.       

2. From your letter, I cannot tell if you are overworked and unable to get all of your day’s work done in one day. . . or if you simply resent doing more things than you used to do. I have been an employee, and I am an employer. I think I can see both “sides of the coin” pretty well. If you are unable to reasonably get your work done during the day, and find yourself working late every day and/or all night at home and on the weekends, then I think you have a problem on your hands. On the other hand, if you can reasonably perform the bookkeeping for both dealerships, without unusual stress or crazy hours, I do not share your view that you are being treated unfairly.

3. If you are being taken advantage of, that is, underpaid or overworked, I suggest you make a respectful “pitch” for a raise, or some other “reward.” In your circumstances, there is nothing better you can do than to “do your best” to get a raise in pay for your efforts, or some other “reward,” examples of which might include (i) more vacation, (ii) better healthcare, (iii) an increased 401k contribution, or (iv) perhaps even the right to work from home one day a week. Your ability to gain a raise, or some other “alternative reward” is dependent on whether your boss, or his or her boss, sees you as valuable enough to fear losing, especially to a competitor. To a great extent you cannot expect others to see your value; instead, you have to “advertise” and “promote” yourself a bit, something that many people don’t do, to their detriment.

I’ve written several articles and answered many questions on how to ask for a raise, or another “alternative reward,” that you can review by simply [clicking here.] You can also watch our free YouTube videos about negotiating with your boss by simply [clicking here.]

You can also obtain a Model Letter entitled “Memo Requesting Raise or Promotion” from the “Model Letter” section of our blogsite. 

4. Bottom line is this, Betty: If you are underappreciated, and your best efforts to undo that don’t work, you need to find an employer who will appreciate you, and pay you what you deserve. I hope that does not sound callous, or uncaring, because it is nothing less than simply true. It is surely hard to get any job these days, but for those who have good skills, good attitude, and can show those things to prospective employers, the chances of getting hired are surely improved. Sometimes I wish I could build a magic “fair button,” that would make things fair, but the honest truth is each of us has to do our best, each day, in every way, to make things fair for ourselves, and our loved ones . . . and even that doesn’t always work.

Hope these thoughts – and the other materials on our blogsite about getting a raise – are helpful to you. Thanks for writing in, and thanks, too, for watching our YouTube videos.  

Best,
Al Sklover

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.