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The Salary Trap: is a higher salary worth every penny?

Posted on | Posted in News

It’s a fact that people need to work to pay the bills, but there’s more to your job than just the renumeration. Company culture, flexible working, remote or hybrid environments can be more attractive if you’re a job seeker, rather than a fat pay packet. Of course, having the money is nice, however the opportunity to have a decent work-life balance can swing the decision for someone to come on board. But what about getting stuck in the Salary Trap?

A gilded cage

In the current climate, companies are offering higher than average salaries as a way to attract talent through their door. Accepting a role primarily because it boosts your take-home pay can prove to be a short-term boon only. Your inflated salary sets a new benchmark which can be troublesome when it comes to the salary negotiations for future job opportunities: a lower offer will feel like a substantial loss. You may feel forced to stay in your current role because you don’t want to ‘lose’ money or reduce your quality of living.

If this sounds like you then you may have inadvertently entered the Salary Trap.

You can also become entangled in the Salary Trap by accepting more pay to stay in a frustrating role. A financial remedy may be a temporary solution to soothe your working complaints, but will a pay raise be enough to cure your job dissatisfaction in the long term? You could end up feeling stuck because your income is good, and despite feeling unhappy in the day-to-day you can’t move on as it’s hard to match your current earnings to similar roles and your skill set.

Escaping the grip of the salary trap

Understandably it will be tough to go back down the salary range and take a pay cut but reducing your salary requirements and expectations can help you see the bigger picture.

  • Are the new job’s flexible working options or supportive work culture worth more to you than a higher wage?
  • Does the lower salary role offer more learning and training opportunities?

It’s worth considering the whole package to decide what you value the most. Since the pandemic, more people have taken stock of their priorities and have adjusted their lives accordingly. Being able to balance dropping the kids off at school or meeting your Nan for lunch is priceless for some. Others have taken a lower paid role because the remote working aspect eliminates the lengthy and expensive daily commute, therefore being time-rich and having more money in their pocket at the end of the month.

Updating your qualifications and training when possible will keep your CV robust and skills current. Having many strings to your bow will make you an attractive candidate to hiring managers, and therefore potentially will enable you to stay at the same salary grade.

Talking to a careers coach can help identify how you could possibly transfer your skills to different roles or industries that you may find more interesting and rewarding.

The Salary Trap snags employers too

Happy employees are key to a successful company so if you’re experiencing a high staff turnover or lots of unhappy employees, chances are your business will be negatively impacted. Disgruntled employees may grind their axe on websites such as Glassdoor and Fishbowl, thus you may find it more challenging to attract top talent when recruiting. Staff motivation and productivity may dive.

Do you find that people still leave after accepting a pay rise?

Instead of throwing money at unhappy employees, fix the problem. Reflect on the working culture and values your company has. Could you offer training that could provide them with a newfound passion and subsequent motivation. A monetary value can’t be placed on a harmonious working culture with a trustworthy and considerate boss who keeps their promises.

Are you unsure how to free yourself from the salary trap? Or do you need an unbiased insight to your company culture to help retain talent? Give Maxine a call on 01256 236997 or email to have a confidential chat.



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