Q. I am an experienced HR consultant and I am feeling frustrated and de-motivated in my employment, as HR is being seen as a “cost centre”. Due to this mentality, I have not had a salary increase in over two years. HR salaries across the board seem to be increasing, and I feel I have the skills and experience to justify a pay rise. What are some of the factors dictating HR salaries and what can I do to increase mine?
A. A number of factors dictate salary levels in HR such as industry, skills, experience, the company’s understanding of HR and the way HR positions itself in the business. You cannot control everything – however, you can certainly control what you do, how you project yourself and the impression you make to your team and the within the broader business. In my response, I make the assumption that rather then “jump ship”, you would prefer to see what you can do to make the current situation better.
Make reasonable comparisons. Ensure that when you are comparing your salary with others, you are taking everything into account. This includes areas of responsibility, size of client base, expectations on time, complexity of business and access to specialist resources. Consult industry-specific salary surveys to complete a fair comparison or look on some of the job advertising boards and you will quickly be able to develop yourself a rough guide or estimate of the salary level for your industry.
Removing the cost centre stigma. This term has HR professionals pulling their hair out. A successful HR team should be able to demonstrate areas where costs have been reduced and in turn ROI to the business. Valuable statistics to business could be cost to hire reduction, decreases in OHS claims and subsequent insurances costs and risks – to name just a few. If the HR team is seen as a cost centre in the business, start talking about how you can change the perception of HR. Work with your HR manager to make their job easier in presenting the facts to the management team. Communication is the key, using progressive language means others will start to do so as well and therefore perception will change with behavioural and language changes.
Your skills and experience – time for a personal gap analysis. Spend some time reflecting on your own professional development. Have you renewed or updated your qualifications in the last few years? HR professionals spend a substantial amount of time looking after the training needs of the broader business and when it comes time to look at their own training, they just do not make the time.
It is probably a good time to look at your own position description and that of the next level up. Put some plans into place to develop the skills so that you can move into the next role/competency level, thus attracting a higher salary. If you have a good relationship with your direct manager, have a conversation about your skills and where they believe any gaps may lie. Alternately, look outside the company for a mentor; make sure that you are able to network with other HR professionals who may be able to offer advice and support.
Frustrated and demotivated – it is probably showing. I make the assumptions that: until recently, you have enjoyed your profession, business and working with the team; and your frustration would decrease, and motivation increase, if you felt that you were being remunerated correctly.
You should realise that your frustration is probably showing and those around you may feel like you do not want to be there anymore. The less motivated you are, the less likely you are to be given the challenging work that shows your talents and therefore proves your worth for salary review. Take control of the situation. Try to innovate and demonstrate what a skilled HR professional (that’s you) can do. Look for a new project, develop a business case for it and make it happen.
It is ‘back to basics’. Some of this advice is ‘back to basics’. You will find that if you get the basics right – growing the perception of HR team capabilities, developing your skills, working with your business, and being engaged with your work – the rest should shortly follow. sIn essence you may feel it is easier to sit back and wait for change to happen, however change needs a catalyst; why shouldn’t it be you. Good luck.
By Kerry Haines, executive consultant and team leader for the Melbourne office of HR Partners, a Digby Morgan company