Annual Reviews and Raises?

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,
Is it normal for companies to conduct employee performance reviews and offer annual pay increases? If so, how are things looking for 2012?

Dear, “Financial Forecast,”

I remember, back in the day, when employee performance reviews and pay increases were a routine “event” each year. Managers would set a date to either meet in the conference room (or even go out to lunch) and go through a thorough evaluation of the work ethic, productivity, attitude, responsiveness – you name it, the review covered it – of each individual employee within his or her department. At the end of each review, the moment of truth would arrive… the pay increase! Back then, a top performer could expect an annual increase of 7% -10% (if not more). Anyone receiving a 5% increase or less was walking the fine line of termination.

Times certainly changed! By around 2001, annual percentages decreased significantly, and a 5% pay increase was considered “top notch!”

With the economic downfall over the past several years, companies have either done away with annual increases altogether, or they have turned to a pay-for-performance approach in which increases and incentives are focused on high-performing employees only.

Now, it doesn’t take a financial expert to realize that today’s economic recovery has not picked up enough to significantly raise salary budgets to the levels they were back in the heyday.

However, according to information I found on the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) site, base salaries in 2012 are expected to increase on average:

  • 0.7% for “low performers”
  • 2.7% for “middle performers”
  • 4.0% for high performers

According to a compensation practice leader at WorldatWork, “The situation where significant numbers of employees are not receiving any pay increases appears to be over for now.”

In my opinion, an annual increase (at least to keep up with the cost of living) should be implemented across the board. It may be wishful thinking, but since the price of everything else seems to go up without a problem… why shouldn’t this?

What do YOU think?
Post your comments here!


Happy Holidays!

Dear Readers,

I am taking off this week to spend time with my family but will respond to any questions you may have upon my return.

I wish you all the very best this holiday season and look forward to sharing thoughts and comments together throughout the New Year!

Happy Holidays,

Sell Yourself… Quickly

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,

In a world that has become so incredibly competitive… I know that every single word I say to a potential employer matters. I also know that there’s not a lot of time to make a good impression and “sum up myself” in a way that will be effective and convincing. What’s the secret?

Dear, “Sound Bite,”

It’s true, only the people that have a good handle on who they are, what they can offer, and how they’re unique will win in the game of job hunting. Regardless of the position, you need to know how to “position” yourself clearly and concisely. Easier said than done… but very possible and something we should all practice.

Imagine that you’re in an elevator and from the time the doors close to the moment they open again, you need to be able to pitch yourself to a perfect stranger. It’s called having an “elevator line.” People in marketing come up with “elevator lines” all the time to sum up a product or service (sort of like a mini commercial). As an individual trying to “market” yourself into the workforce,  you, too, need an “elevator line” that you can dish out within a matter of seconds.

I found this great article on that addresses this specific issue and includes tips on how to make it happen. I encourage each and every one of you to take a stab at it.

Once you’re done reading the article and coming up with your OWN sound bite to sell yourself, I’d like you to test it on me. Post your “elevator line” here, and let’s learn from one another and make comments!

Sound good?
Ready.. Set… Go!

Dealing with Acquisitions

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,
I am a Payroll Manager at my company, and I just got word that we are being acquired by a larger firm. I’m scared I’m going to lose my job! Any recommendations?

Dear, “Scared Supervisor,”

I know this feeling. At first, you can’t believe your ears… and you’re not even sure what it means to be on the receiving end of such news. Then it sinks in that this “larger firm” likely comes with a complete staff (including a Payroll Manager) and a new set of policies and procedures. After you’ve digested the fact that the working world, as you know it, is about to change, you start witnessing a series of closed-door meetings throughout the office and realize terminations are about to be made. Now, try not to panic. As some say, “everything happens for a reason.” There’s also the old cliché that “with every challenge comes new opportunities.” To cut to the chase, my advice is this:

  1. Maintain open communication – As a manager, you have a responsibility to your direct reports. Trust me, your staff is feeling equally unsure and uneasy about what’s going on. The best thing you can do for them (and for yourself) is to stay on top of any and all announcements and information regarding the acquisition and keep all lines of communication open. Ask HR or your Executive Team to post Frequently Asked Questions – or hold regular meetings that explain what is happening and what to expect.
  2. Be open to change. Remain Flexible – There’s no doubt about it… things are about to change. But who knows, it’s probably for the best (not only for your company overall, but for you personally). On the one hand, this may be your chance to explore a new industry or pursue that dream job you’ve never had the guts to go after (because you’ve felt “safe” in your current position). On the other hand, you may be jumping to conclusions thinking you need to find a new job. An acquisition does not necessarily mean you’re going to be replaced or eliminated. In fact, it often means that the two companies will merge the “best of the best” together to form an even stronger team. You, as the manager, may be advanced to an even bigger and better role… which leads me to my next point…
  3. Make sure you and your team are A-Players – This is your chance to shine. Button up your department procedures, show value, and be your best. Now, quite frankly, if you’re a good manager, it shouldn’t take the threat of an acquisition to kick your team into gear… but now is a good time to get cracking if you haven’t done so already.
  4. Avoid the negativity – It’s not uncommon to hear the gossip in the hall or the grumblings of employees who express their dislike of the “new” company, but don’t fall into that negativity… I warn you, it can be infectious. Not to say you have to be a Pollyanna, but you want to do your best to instill a positive attitude for your team.
  5. Be prepared – Whether you end up staying with the company or not, you should be prepared and cover all bases. Dig out your résumé and make sure it’s updated (just in case), be open to new responsibilities within your existing company – your skill set may be better suited for another group or department within. Be open to change and go with the flow.

One way or another, the dust will settle, and the new structure will be clear. Business can be like a rollercoaster at times. I suppose that’s what keeps things progressive and interesting… and it keeps us on our toes!

Good luck to you and your team!

For those of you who have experienced either end of an acquisition, please share your story here!


Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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