Being Named “Tim” Pays Way Better Than “Jessica”! Why?

Data is amazing! It can also be funny and sad. Take a recent data analysis of names on resumes and salaries put together by Adzuna who put together a tool that allows you to search your own first name and find your own value (ValueMyResume).

It turns out the amount of money you make based on your name is vastly different on average. Meaning, my average salary for “Tim” is around $103,723. Now, my friend “Jessica” Lee her first name gets her on average $50,571.

Seems weird, right?

My other friend, “Kris” Dunn, gets $0 because as it turns out, not too many dudes have the name “Kris” or “Kristian” with a “K”, but when I put in the traditional spelling of “Chris” he gets $98,257, while “Christopher” only gets $77,554.

From the data here are the top-paying Men and Women names:

Top Paying Women Names
Top Paying Men Names

So, immediately you see top women getting paid way less than top men names. Interestingly, you’ll also notice a bunch more “ethic” derived names on the men’s list. So, this is where data sometimes doesn’t give us the full story. The study found 16,000 unique names on 40,000 resumes. So, “Murat” might be the only “Murat” found and thus if he’s got a great job, his salary is going to be very high.

On the flip side, they might have had hundreds of “Kari’s” and now the overall salary is going to come down because of the extra data available.

Let’s look at the lowest paid Names on average:

Lowest paid female names
Lowest paid male names

Again, males on average make more on the low end than females on the low end. We don’t get specific data points to determine or occupations, so it’s hard to really make any true inferences about what this says.

Do the names on the low end have anything in common or different from the high end? The only real difference I can tell is really on the high-end males seem to have non-traditional American names. Names are derived from Arabic, Indian, and Chinese/Vietnamese. So, we could assume these males are most likely in STEM careers that are on the high end of the salary scale on average, based on college graduation programs correlated to names. You also see a few of these names on the high-end female names as well.

The other part of this data is based on “resume” data. Who has a resume? Usually professional, white-collar folks. So, overall you are going to see a higher overall pay rate on the high and low end than the national average.

You can go to the site and search on your own name and see where you fall. In terms of my own “high” salary average for “Tim”, I’m again going to assume there weren’t many “Tim’s” in the data set, so the ones they got had good jobs! Also, “Tim” is a very GenX name, meaning the Tim’s in the data set were probably late-career and in their prime earning years, so also more likely to have a higher than average salary.

Does this data show a larger problem in America when it comes to Pay Equity?

It might.

The hard part is that with only salary and name data you are going to make a gigantic jump to correlate pay equity issues based on those two data points. There are so many other factors at play that we don’t know from the resumes. Maybe the resumes that were gathered were heavy on males in the IT fields and the female resumes were heavy on non-technical careers. Maybe the male resumes had a higher overall average of experience and female resumes tended to be less experienced. Etc.

But, you can’t not see what you see. And what you see is what we already know to be true, on average, men make more than women, and pay equity is still a major issue that we must fix.

Is Market Compensation Dead? #HRFamous

On episode 83 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss Halloween at work, Zillow’s new remote comp approach, and JLee’s new job!

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

Show Highlights

2:00 – Halloween is coming soon! JLee asks the crew if they’re dressing up for the holiday this year.

4:15 – JLee wonders if she is forcing fun onto her friends, family, and co-workers by making them do fall/Halloween-related activities. Tim says that people almost always have fun when they’re forced to partake in these types of activities.

8:00 – How do you feel about group costumes? The crew goes back and forth on good group costumes.

10:30 –  JLee saw a post on LinkedIn of an update from a CHRO at a major company. She reads the update to Tim and KD and then reveals that the company is Zillow.

12:45 – KD is softening to the approach of not factoring in location when determining salary/pay.

16:45 – JLee notes that certain brands have the privilege to exercise changes in pay and salary because people are willing to give something up to work for your brand.

18:40 – Tim worries that the fact that companies are doubling down on not changing pay based on location will result in something bad happening years down the line.

22:00 – JLee wonders if everyone is overreacting to these discussions and changes in company policies. She thinks some things will just go back to how they were and this might just blow over.

24:00 – JLee praises KD for changing his opinion and having the ability to develop a new stance on something.

25:00 – JLee got a promotion! She asks Tim and KD for some advice on her new job.

28:00 – KD advises JLee to give patience to new people that she is now managing. He advises her to walk the line between being patient but also being decisive when the time comes.

31:30 – Tim advises JLee to bring a third party, within the company, to lead transition meetings in order to give a voice to her new employees.

36:30 – JLee asks Tim and KD how to manage new stresses with a new job at home when it comes to family. Tim says your time becomes more valuable and there are things you have to figure out that will make your life easier.

39:00 – JLee mentions that her husband recently reached out about any extra support she needs now with a new job. KD and Tim are impressed.

7 Things Not to Say When Asking for a Raise…but You Always Wanted To!

Columnist, Jeff Haden, wrote an article called “Ten Things You Should Never Say When Firing an Employee”  in which he tries to give good advice, in typical HR fashion of over-reducing risk, in how you should speak, or not speak, to an individual regarding their near termination.  As you can imagine, there were the classics:

  • “Look, this is really hard on “me”!”
  • “We’ve decided to make a change.”
  • “Compared to Mary, you just aren’t cutting it.”
  • If there is anything I can do for you, just let me know.” (Okay, how about giving me my job back, idiot!)

Among a few others, including the most recent classic of firing employees via email, which is just unimaginable, for those HR pros who struggle with conflict, Haden nailed pretty much all the normal things we would tell hiring managers not to do or say. The question then really comes down to thanks for the info, now what should I be saying to someone when I fire them?  The article probably would have been better served here – but that would have been difficult and thought-provoking – and taken more than 13 minutes to write.

The piece did get me to thinking about certain conversations in our work lives that cost people the most anxiety, besides the above example of having to terminate someone, having to go in and ask for money was, on my list, the next most anxious work conversation I could come up with.  I can think of many times that I wanted more money, though I was deserving through results to get more money, and heck even our good old Comp people said the market should be paying me more money, and still, it is a difficult conversation to have with your superior (at least for me).

Like many, I think I do a good job, give my best effort, produce great results and after all that, do I really need to ask? Shouldn’t my boss get it and just want to write me a blank check? I mean really!

So, here are the lines that you would like to say when asking for more money – but probably shouldn’t – if you really want more money:

1. “If you pay 10% more, I will really put in some extra effort!” – So what you’re saying is you’re not putting in extra effort now…

2. “I looked in our HRIS system and I know Sheila on the 5th floor is making $5000 more than I am – and she’s an idiot!” – Not the best strategy to look at others’ private comp information, even if you have access, then call them an idiot – at least in my experience…

3. “If you don’t pay me more money, I’ll be forced to find another job that will pay me what I worth” – Be careful, I’ve tried this one, and they might call your bluff!

4. “I’ve done the math and if you fire Mike, I can do his job and mine, you save $50K, after giving me $25K of his $75K salary” – This actually might be a really good idea, But Mike might be the last one standing with the $25K raise, not you!

5. “I really don’t understand how you can be worth $50K more than me, I do all your work – and deserve more money” – Bosses just love to hear they are overpaid, don’t do anything, and you can do their job – NOT!

6. “I saved the company $1 million in reducing recruiting fees, by implementing a social media strategy successfully, I should at least get a fraction of those savings” – Why, yes you should – if you were in sales, but you’re in HR, and this was part of your job description. Sorry for the wake up call – all employees aren’t treated equally – put on a helmet.

7. “I know times are tough, so I was thinking instead of more money you could give me an extra weeks vacation or pay for my health insurance or something else like that.” – Okay, Einstein, stop thinking – it’s all money. Vacation, health insurance, paid parking, lunch money – it all hits the bottom line on the income statement. You just showed how expendable you really are.

I’ve learned over the years, through trial and error, okay, mostly error, that many, if not all, of the above statements, just don’t seem to have the impact that I was hoping for with my supervisor.  I have seen others, who I will not name, who performed well, gave it their all, and were dedicated to doing their best for themselves, their co-workers and the company, and showed a little patience who actually did very well in both the raise and promotion category.

Supervisors are as uncomfortable as you are to have the compensation conversation mainly, because if you are as good as you profess to be then they really do want to give you more but probably can’t due to the budget, the economy, they like your co-worker even more, etc. The reality is you have to follow what Yoda would say – Patience my young Padawan…

What About Me!?

The year is 1981, the artist is Shayne Ward, the song is “What About Me” (Look it up, kids!). I actually sing this to my wife all the time as a joke:

The chorus:

“What about me, it isn’t fair
I’ve had enough now I want my share
Can’t you see I wanna live
But you just take more than you give”

What about the employees who have that are staying!?

We all have a lot of employees who are leaving us. I’ve had a couple of really great folks of my own that have left for new positions. I also have the vast majority that have stayed and are also really awesome!

We do this stupid thing in organizations that I hate. It’s been going on forever. We tend to really overvalue new employees and employees who are performing that leave, and we totally discount the folks who stay. Dare I even say, those who are “loyal” and stay. That’s a trigger I know, because honestly, those who left were loyal also, until, well, they left.

I mean, just because someone leaves for an opportunity that feels is right for them and their family doesn’t make someone not loyal. I believe disloyalty is when someone purposely tries to hurt your organization, and as such, is trying to hurt all the employees who actually work there as well. That’s way different!

We have this fixation on trying to “save” an employee who wants to leave. I actually think trying to save good employees is a good investment. The problem is, we also need a “save”/retention strategy for all those employees who are killing it every day and not going anywhere. They need the love as well!

Wait, isn’t that just good old fashion employee engagement or good new fashion employee experience?

Yes.

Yes, and in certain times it’s also more than that. In times of terrific economic advantage to workers, like we are now in, we probably have to do a bunch more. You can show your employees some love, or someone else will!

I had a number of conversations recently with really smart leaders around pay and compensation. In times like we are in right now, compensation market-level data can’t keep up. It never really can, but it usually doesn’t move this fast, so being 3-6 months trailing is okay. Right now, you can not be one month behind. Actually, your recruiters probably have better market data than your compensation team. They are seeing it with accepted and declined offers every day, with pre-screen expectations, with comments they are hearing from hiring managers on offers they are hearing about.

Don’t kid yourself, it’s about pay until it’s not about pay.

We have been sold an old paradigm that we love to believe is true, but it’s only half true. Pay being equal, all the culture and leadership stuff matters. Pay not being equal, no one cares about your stupid skills development program, and Billy the nice boss. First, pay me what I should be getting.

We have a major crisis on our hands right now as organizations. You can only solve so much of this by backfilling talent and turning on your recruiting machine. You first have to turn off the exit pipeline leaving your organization. Settle down the turnover and it will be easier to recruit and build back to where you need to be.

You have a ton of employees who are staying and not resigning. Those folks are now doing more to take up the slack because turnover is so high. As leaders, this is the time you actually make your money. Full court press on making sure your folks are taken care of in the ways that are important to them, that they feel appreciated and seen, that they matter.

It’s not about the folks leaving. It’s about the folks who are staying!

Graduating Starting Salary Articles Screw Up Talent Acquisition!

CNBC recently had one of those articles about what the top starting salaries are for new college graduates. You know the kind of article I’m talking about, the kind where some kid from a liberal arts college who graduated with an Art History degree thinks they should be getting an $85K starting salary because someone who graduated with a computer science degree gets that!

Here’s the highest starting salary from the CNBC article:

Here’s the problem with this type of salary data?!

  1. It’s taken out of context from a market and industry perspective! Okay, a “Petroleum Entry-Level Engineer” can make $87,989 for a starting salary. But only in the best case possible result of a combintion of great entry level candidate, from a top school, going to a top company, in an exensive area!
  2. New grads of other degrees think they are close to these top most-wanted graduates! You’re not! And it’s not even close! Congratulations, you really challenged yourself and got that Comms degree. Slow down, you’re only worth half of the top most wanted, at best! But, when they see these lists, they are like, “well, okay, I’m not worth $80K, but probably like $60K!” Nope. Try $40K.
  3. This is university and college career center porn. They love sharing these surveys which aren’t close to being accurate and usally based on self-reported new hire graduate salaires. So, really you’re making $42K, but you say $50K because you’re embarrassed you aren’t making more like all the “other” graduates. Who by the way, are also not making this much!

All of this gives Talent Acquisition pros a giant headache because we have to deal with the bad data and lies being fed to these kids. Look, we get it. If we were overcharging our “customers” by amounts that should spark a government investigation, we would also want our customers to believe they are getting great value for the money they are spending!

The problem is the companies that hire new graduates are dealing with the fallout of trying to re-educate students entering the workforce about what their true value is, and often that is a gutshot for a student also paying off tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

What should we be doing?

I think colleges and universities should make students sign a letter that they understand what the starting entry-level salary is for the program they are entering. And sign a new agreement every time they decide to change programs. Those entry-level starting salaries should be the actual starting salaries from the top 100 organizations that actually hire those graduates, and segmented by market.

I think a little taste of reality would help all parties out. Hey, FYI, you’re choosing to work in a field that pays peanuts. It’s totally awesome you want to do it, but understand this is what you’re buying into! Students go in eyes wide open. Employers get students who have better expectations. An universitys’ might have to start answering some questions on why they are charging $50K a year to attend school for a job that only pays $40K!

As you can tell, I’m not a huge fan of this kind of data and articles. Most of the highest we already know. STEM careers in IT and Engineering are always the most wanted. Some stand out because they’re actually so few, both jobs and graduating seniors (Petroleum Engineers and Chemical Engineers). Then, there’s a giant drop-off.

Why is Google Cutting Pay for Remote Workers?

On episode 76 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss back-to-school season, Google’s new internal calculator for pay cuts and secretly working two remote jobs.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

Show Highlights

1:30 – It’s back-to-school season! JLee is feeling ready for the season after getting back from a vacation to Turks & Caicos. Her kids are going to be in person at school all day.

3:45 – Tim’s last child is a senior in high school and they are ready for him to get out of the house. His wife doesn’t know how she’s going to make it through the year…

5:30 – In a shoutout to “no one really knows anything,” KD mentions a report from the UAB that said 40% of a state is going to get Covid between July and September because of the Delta variant. The majority will show no symptoms. Is that bad? No one really knows. Songs from the band Chicago are cited.

9:30 – Google’s rolled out a new internal calculator explaining potential pay cuts to employees who choose to work remotely and people are getting penalized. Reuters reported on screenshots of this calculator.

12:00 – JLee gives Google a thumbs up for being a leader on the forefront of salary changing by location.

14:00 – Tim discusses the thought process that this is built on: I should get paid the same regardless of where I live. The reality is that every market substantiates different pay levels.

17:45 – JLee mentions that this decision is a hard one to make and someone has to be the leader on this forefront. She also mentions that there’s definitely room to change if there’s backlash.

22:45 – Are people taking on second jobs while they work from home? There’s a book coming out from an individual about their story working two remote jobs. Check out more at their website. They came out with 12 rules about working two remote jobs, the top of the list is “don’t talk about your other job.”

26:50 – One of their rules is “be average.” JLee says that this is when it falls apart. She says to kick butt at job No. 1 and work your way up there, instead of being average at two different jobs.

29:00 – KD asks the crew what percentage of adults work two jobs. JLee says 10% and Tim and KD say 1%.

30:30 – Tim had this happen to him with a contractor who was working two jobs.

34:30 – Tim thinks that people are too afraid of retaliation/being found out so he’s sticking with his 1% guess of people that work more than one job remotely.

How Much of a Pay Cut Are You Willing to Take to Work Remotely?

A new study says 65% of Americans are willing to take a pay cut to work remotely! I thought that seemed high. Also, the concept didn’t really make sense to me. Why should someone take a pay cut to work remotely?

So, I decided to do a poll of my own on LinkedIn! It’s currently live, but it got massive traffic, and here are some of the initial results:

Tim’s Super Official LinkedIn Poll

Are People Really Willing to Take a Pay Cut to Work Remotely?

Yes, and no.

The vast majority of folks commented that there is no reason for someone to take a pay cut. But, my guess is, based on the results, if push came to shove, they probably would be willing to take a pay cut to work in the environment of their choosing.

So, you have what people say, and then you have what people actually do when faced with a real choice.

Also, I had a number of folks tell me my poll was flawed (well, of course, it is!) because I didn’t give the option of saying “No, I won’t take a pay cut to work remote, and remote is for me”, and “I expect a pay increase to work remote”. The problem is LinkedIn only gives me 4 options for poll results. So, it’s fun, but it’s limited.

Should someone take a pay cut to work remotely?

So, a lot of pro-remote folks got a bit defensive in the comments over this. I wasn’t personally asking anyone to take a pay cut. I was asking (and actually it wasn’t even me asking, I was just reacting to the new survey linked above) is working remotely valuable enough to you that you would be willing to take less pay to work in a remote environment?

I’m actually in the camp that if someone works remotely, their organization should probably be discussing with them the cost they face working remotely verse working on-premise. There are probably cases all across the spectrum of three options:

  1. It costs me more to work remotely, and my company should pay me more because of this fact, or force me back to work because it’s more cost effective, or I’m willing to take less pay because of this difference. (probably very rare)
  2. It costs me the same as working on-premise, and my company should at least pay me what it costs them to house me on-prem.
  3. It actually costs less for me to work remotely, and my company should probably give me a pay raise because I’m saving them so damn much money!

At the end of the day, everyone has a choice.

Some organizations will ask their teams to come back on-premise. This decision will be made after a lot of leadership discussion, and a decision will be made this is what’s best for the health of our organization. As an employee, you might not agree with that and thank god we live in America and are free to make the choice to work someplace else if you don’t agree with that.

Some organizations will decide to go full remote with their teams. Some will succeed, some will stay the same, some will fail. That’s the reality of being a leader and making leadership decisions. Not one of these decisions is actually right or wrong until we know the outcome.

I do think organizations, who are in a competitive talent fight, are going to have to add more flexibility. This does not mean full remote, but it does mean probably be way more flexible than they are used to being. I also think employees in general who work remotely have a rude awakening coming when it comes to technology monitoring and measured performance outcomes.

Organizations tend to bottom line. If it works, awesome, how do we do more of it. If it’s not working, we’re going to change, and find out what’s wrong. Too many employees believe they can perform better working remotely, but when I speak to CHRO’s, CFO”s, and CEO’s, the numbers have yet to reflect that that performance level. Some do perform better, but many don’t.

The question remains, would you take a pay cut to work remotely vs. on-prem?

How Should We Structure New-Hire Sign-On Bonuses for Hourly Hires?

Right from The Project mailbag comes this beauty of a question! Very timely in that so many organizations are moving super fast to add sign-on bonuses for new hires to help them attract more hourly candidates right now. Here’s the actual question:


Dear Tim,

We are looking to offer a new hire sign-on bonus for our hourly hires. I was wondering if you have any advice in terms of what is the best way to do this that one, makes it attractive to candidates, and two, works to help retain these hires so we aren’t just throwing money away?

Thanks for the help,

Mandy


How would I offer an hourly sign-on bonus?

It’s a great question because there isn’t any one correct answer. The correct answer is you do what it takes to meet your goals! In this scenario, without giving up Mandy’s specific details, here’s what I would do:

  • Offer an amount that makes staying on extended UI/Stimulus a non-issue. So, if someone is making $300 a week additional stimulus ($1200 per month), I’m going to pay that on top of our hourly wage.
  • Pay this sign-on as a fraction per hour worked. So, an additional $300 per week would be $7.50 per hour over your normal hourly rate. So, a person who normally makes $15/hr, would be making $22.50/hr until the “sign-on bonus” is paid off.
  • The decision you have to make is how long do you pay this additional extra hourly sign-on addition? One month, two months, until the end of September?! I would pay it for one month and if the person quits and tries to collect unemployment, we would challenge it. The reality is, once someone has worked for a month, there more than likely going to keep working. The ones who really don’t want to work, won’t make it a month.
  • “Tim, we just can’t afford that much”-edition. I hear you, $300 per week is way too much. What can you do? Steal workers from other employers who are making roughly the same as what you pay, but you pay more, just not $7.50 an hour more! Maybe you pay $2/hr more.
  • But, wait, you’re not done! What about your current workers? The reality is, if you start offering a sign-on bonus to new hires, your current employees are going to be upset, especially your best ones! So, you have to make it good with them. More than likely you end up in a compensation track that pays your more experienced people more than your new hires. The key for success here is whoever is getting the best pay must be your best performers, or you get rid of them.
  • Also, you can’t pay your more experienced hourly workers $.50 to $2/hr more if you’re paying new hires sign-on bonuses worth more than that, but you don’t have to pay them the same. The key is to make sure your best workers are being paid at a rate that leads the market, so they can’t go anywhere else for similar work in your market and make the same or more. Pay for performance.
  • Move quickly to make changes to market compensation. In crazy employment times, as we have right now for hourly workers, you can not rely on paid compensation data and services. They move too slow. Pay attention to what candidates are telling you and make some calls to fellow pros around your market to see what folks are paying.
  • Bonus Tip: Have multiple sign-on bonus/retention plans for potential new hires/current employees to choose from! Let’s face it, no one plan will be what everyone wants. So, design three and let them choose. Maybe some want an additional hourly rate, maybe some want a retention bonus paid at the end as a lump sum, and maybe some want something totally different. Get creative!

Brainstorming Idea: What if you paid bonuses for certain activities that lead to the new employee behaviors you wish to have? Show up for the interview, get $50 cash in your hand. Show up to the first day of work, get $100 cash in your hand. Make it through the first week, etc.! Reward based on the behavior you want to happen, and ensure it happens. Yes, payroll will hate you, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done!

Yes, this is expensive, but not as expensive as going out of business because you can’t find labor. You can always increase your prices for your products and services to meet this additional demand. Say hello to inflation, it’s going to happen, the current administration made sure of that with a multi-trillion dollar stimulus package!

The key to making sign-on bonuses work is to only pay those bonuses fully to those workers who truly are working. If you start paying that higher wage to slackers, you’ll be dead in the water. People are willing to work market leading wages, but they are also willing to collect market leading wages for not working so hard if you allow it.

Should You Ever Ask About Pay During a Job Interview?

NO! YES! I DON’T KNOW! WHY ARE WE YELLING!?

This question gets asked so often by all levels of individuals who are going through a job search. Entry levels to seasoned professionals, no one really knows the correct answer, because, like most things in life, it depends on so many factors!

First off, you look like an idiot if you show up to an interview and in the first few minutes you drop the pay question!

“So, yeah, before we get too deep into this, how much does the job pay!?” 

Mistake #1! 

First, if you’re asking about what the job pays in a real face-to-face interview, or virtual interview, you’re doing it wrong! The time to ask about pay, is almost immediately, even when you’re desperate for the job. Usually, this happens during a screening call, email, text message from someone in recruiting or HR. Talent Acquisition and HR Pros expect this question, so it’s really not a big deal.

The problem we get into is this belief that somehow asking about pay and salary looks bad on us as a candidate. “Oh, all you care about is the pay and not our great company!?”

Mistake #2! 

Actually, TA and HR would prefer to get this big issue out of the way, right away, before they fall in love with you and find out they can’t afford you. Doesn’t matter if you make $15/hr or $100K per year, everyone involved needs to understand what it’s going to take to hire you. As a candidate, even when you desperately want the job, you still have power. You can still say, “No”.

The best thing you can do is get the pay question out of the way, up front, so both you and the company can determine if you will truly be the best hire. The worst thing that can happen during an interview, is you both fall in love with each other, then at the end find out it won’t work financially! That’s a killer!

Mistake #3! 

As a candidate, you get referred to a position and you have a pretty good idea of what the pay will be. Your friend works at the company, even in the same position, and makes $45K, so you’re not going to ask because you feel you already know.

The problem is, the company might not see your experience and education the same as your friends, or the market has shifted (like a Pandemic hit, and now the market pays less for your skills). For whatever reason, you are thinking one number and they are thinking another. This gets awkward when it all comes out at the end of the hiring process.

So, once again, be transparent. “Hey, my friend actually referred me and loves her job and the company. She also told me what she makes. I’m comfortable with that level, but I just want to make sure we are on the same page for a starting salary/wage before we keep going.” Simple. Straight-forward. Appreciated.

Yes, ask about Pay! 

Yes, ask about pay, but “no” don’t ask about pay as the last step of the interview process. Calm down, you’re not some wolf of Wall Street expert negotiator who’s going to wow them with your brilliance and get $100K more than others doing the same job. Most jobs have a set salary range that is pretty small, so you might get a little movement, but there is really no need to play hardball.

In fact, from a negotiation standpoint, getting your figure out early with a statement like, “I just want to make sure we are in the same park, I’m looking for $20-22/hr in my next job. Does this position pay that?” Gives you and the company some room to negotiate, but it’s a safe conversation since you both put some bumpers around where that conversation will go.

Also, if you decide you want more, it’s a great starting point. “Yes, I really like the job and the company and I’m interested in working for you. I know I said I was looking for $22/hr, but Mary told me I would also be doing “X” and honestly, I think that job pays a bit more than $22/hr. Can we discuss?”

Discussions of pay can be difficult because we often find talking about how much money we make taboo. I blame our parents! They never talked to us about it and if the subject was ever brought up, we got hushed immediately! Raise your hand if you knew what your Dad made when you were 12! Not many hands are up!

The reality is, it should be a very transparent, low-stress conversation. This is where I am. This is what I want from this job. Are we on the same page?

Does a $15/hr Minimum Wage Really Help Workers?

There might not be a more controversial topic in 2021! Whether or not we (the United States of America) should raise the minimum wage for all workers, in all states, in all jobs to $15/hr.

I would love to say this is ‘simply’ a political issue, but it’s not. It’s much more complicated than politics. Both sides will point to studies that prove why or why not we should have a minimum wage of $15/hr. The reality is, a $15/hr minimum wage is more of an economic issue than political.

What is the argument, really, for and against a $15/hr minimum wage? 

For $15/hr:

  • People need a living wage. $15/hr for a forty-hour week, roughly puts a person at an income level of $30,000 per year. Which, in theory, would bring that person above the poverty level. Let’s be clear, “above poverty level” is still a freaking tough life!
  • Corporations are making record profits on the backs of hourly workers. Hello, Jeff Bezos!
  • Other countries have done this and it’s worked out just fine.

Against $15/hr:

  • Raising the minimum wage to $15/hr and above will cost jobs. If you force employers to pay $15/hr as a minimum they’ll hire fewer workers and have them work fewer hours.
  • $15/hr minimum wage is too little for some markets and too much for some markets. We should let market dynamics decide what the minimum should be.
  • Other countries, like Australia, pay a living wage, but have you been to Australia? It’s not the U.S. It’s U.S.-like, but when you go to a “bar and grill” in Australia you don’t get waited on. You go to the bar, order your food, and they yell your name when it’s done. Need extra ketchup? Go to the bar, wait in line, and hope you can get the one bartender to get it for you. Why? Because wait staff costs too much, so they use them. Things are different. So, yeah, “waitstaff” in Australia gets paid a living wage, but those places just don’t hire very many.

What does the research really say? 

Here is where the rubber meets the road because we can always find a study that will back up whatever point we might have. I’m for an increase in the minimum wage, or I’m against it, I can share with you five studies each supporting my take. Ugh! So, what is it really?

I found a study that looked at all the minimum wage studies (not some dumb Forbes article, real academic research), both for and against, to break down the facts and the myths. Here’s what they found:

  • There is a clear preponderance of negative effects on employment when raising the minimum wage.
  • The evidence is stronger for teens, young adults, and less-educated.
  • The evidence around specific industries is less one-sided.

What does all of that mean? 

First, while you will find studies saying that minimum wage does not impact jobs, there is way more academic and economic literature supporting the other side. Also, the evidence shows a strong effect on younger workers and lower educated, so there might be some room to talk about family or adult minimum wage standards verse just the standard one-size-fits-all. There is also a need to look at minimum wage by industry, again not just across the board.

An example might be, manufacturing sectors can pay $15/hr but service level restaurant jobs can not. Or, $15/hr makes sense in New York City, but not in Winona, MN. Maybe it could be looked at via high margin industries verse low margin industries.

What is clear, from the evidence, is that a straight $15/hr minimum wage, for all people, for the entire country, is not the best remedy for our current dilemma. Most likely, what will happen, if the $15/hr minimum happens is you’ll see organizations adjust accordingly by doing a combination of rising prices, cutting costs, cutting hours, and cutting jobs.

If you believe corporations are just going to “eat” the additional expenses, at the cost of profit, you are at best naive.

What’s my take?

I don’t like the proposal of just across the board we are going to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr across the country. I don’t like it because it won’t do what people think it should do, it’s really just more political posturing. In the end, consumers will pay more (which maybe we should) and corporations will cut to make the same profits. Ultimately, workers will take it on the chin, again.

If politicians truly cared about workers, they would dig in and do a minimum wage by market. It would be way higher than $15/hr in some locations and probably a bit lower in some locations, but there would be more strategy and thought behind it. The federal government does this now with pay bands for federal workers, they should be able to do it for all workers with minimum wage.

To not include market dynamics in compensation policy shows the government doesn’t really care about workers, truly. Because when it comes to taking care of their own, federal government employees, they do take into consideration market dynamics. $15/hr in Los Angles, San Francisco, and New York City is nothing, let’s be real.

Let me hear it in the comments! Are you for or against a $15/hr minimum wage and why?