Question: I work in a large high tech company where several of us have the same job description, but we don’t do the same work. My boss gives me all the difficult assignments and the others receive the more routine work.

When I received my increase this year, I got a 3% raise, while the other employees received a 2% increase. I was told my increase was better because of all the work I do, but it doesn’t seem like I am getting rewarded very fairly. My boss says I am at the top of my salary range and there is nothing else he can do for me.

I have thought about leaving the organization, but they have excellent benefits. I have two kids who are eligible to receive free college tuition since we are affiliated with a local university.

I like the organization and I want to know that they recognize and value my work. How do I advance?

Bob F.

Answer: Bob, there are a couple of things you might consider as you contemplate what to do about your situation. Is there opportunity in the long term to advance and what should you consider if you do want to leave for a better paying job.

Companies have salary ranges for specific job classifications. If you are at the top of the range, often a boss’s hands are tied and they can not give large increases. Being at the top, means just that – you are highly skilled at what you do and you are paid a top wage for it.

Ask your boss or manager if there is opportunity to be considered for a promotion within the next year. If so, define what you need to do to prepare yourself.

Develop a joint plan with your boss to accomplish getting the skills and experience to become the top candidate. The promotion may not happen as quickly as you like, but you will be in a position to qualify for it when it does.

Some organizations have put a freeze on hiring or promoting until the economy improves, so be patient. If the organization fails to come through, you will have positioned yourself for a better position if you decide to leave.

Let us suppose your company does not see you as a viable candidate for a promotion, then you have a couple of choices: stay or leave.

To help make the decision from a financial point of view, consider if you will be able to replicate the salary and benefits you are receiving at the prospective company. Often employees only focus on the pay side of the equation, forgetting that benefits are in fact a form of compensation. In fact, there is some evidence that the value of benefits is increasing faster than wages.

Begin by making a list of all forms of compensation at your current company. Include the following:

  • Salary
  • Bonus
  • Profit sharing
  • Stock options or grants
  • 401K contribution (consider maximum matching contribution)
  • Medical benefits
  • Dental benefits
  • Pension
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Vacation Days
  • Short term disability
  • Long term disability
  • Other benefits

Calculate the yearly amount the company pays on your behalf. Your Human Resources department can help you with gathering this information.

Next, examine how your prospective company’s compensation and benefits offer or policies stack up with the same list. Recognize there maybe different benefit structures. Start with the “apples to apples” comparison and then account for the variations.

For example, you may find that the tuition reimbursement for family members is not a common benefit between two companies. If your kids are approaching college, tuition assistance may become a more valuable benefit to you.

College tuition averages anywhere from $6K to $25K, depending on if they attend a public or private college. Factor in this cost as if you were receiving it in salary, unless your children are funding their education without any assistance from you.

If you decide to stay, continue to provide the best attitude and work product despite how you might feel about your peers. Facing a challenging position might prove to be more invigorating than being bored with what you do.