How to make more money and perks at work

So it’s been a while since I have done a “working” piece. Quick recap, at prior roles I have been a manager who hired and fired staff. Now it’s been a minute since then but not that long ago. So take my advice here with a grain of salt. Now what I am about to reveal isn’t rocket science, you could probably come to the same conclusion. BUT as a former manager I can tell you the people who had these items I always tried to do more for.

Gender, Race, Religion, Sexuality it didn’t matter to me. If you had these traits, I tried to pay you more. I without a doubt favored staff who exhibited these traits. I know that’s probably not politically correct but I am being real here. I’m telling you right now your manager at work values these items as well. So what are these magical traits?

Soft Skills

I know you have probably heard this buzz phrase all over the place recently. It’s the intangible traits that are exhibited by the individual. These are without a doubt some of the biggest factors in your success or failure within a role. You not only have to be aware of them but hone them in to capitalize on them. I work for money so I can afford to do the things I like to do. I’m guessing you are very similar, so here is a list of a few “soft skills” that will help you make more money at work and get more perks.

  • Dependability: You show up every day ready to work.
  • Positive attitude: This is self-explanatory
  • Communication: It’s not just sending the email, its ensuring that people understand what you mean.
  • Adaptability: If someone is out, can I look to you to fill in or do I have to ask someone else?
  • Conflict Resolution: Conflict happens; can you resolve it internally or at the first sign of trouble are you emailing HR?

Now these might be vague but I think you get the gist. The point is most employees have a few of these traits (less and less these days it seems) but some have many. Now some people call them names a “beta” or “brown noser” as a manager my name for them? MVP. These are the people I rely on the most and any good manager worth their salt will make sure those individuals are paid well and cared for.

As an example, I worked with a woman we will call Pam. Pam reported to me directly. She had great soft skills she really excelled at her role it was a pleasure to have her in my dept. I had another person I will call Heidi. Heidi was generally a pain in the ass, but Heidi did one specific task better than anyone else and that made her valuable. I needed her, or so I thought. So one day Heidi tells me she needs 3 weeks off to prepare for her sister’s wedding. I try and be sympathetic to her but I simply didn’t have the ability to “give” her 3 weeks off. See she wanted it above and beyond her PTO time.

Take every minute of paid time off you get, leave none on the table.

I told her I couldn’t do that and she should put in a PTO time off request for any time she needed (she didn’t have 3 weeks btw). Heidi emails HR, tells them I was rude (because I said no). I get the call from HR, I talk to them, they get it and they handle it. 2 weeks go by Heidi says nothing things are working as per normal. Heidi comes in at the end of the day and quits, saying she HAS to have the time off for the wedding prep and if I won’t let her go she is quitting. I say as little as possible.

She leaves, I let HR know. Now luckily Heidi wrote a resignation letter. It wasn’t flattering to me, but it wasn’t horrible either, this is important later. Next work day I start cleaning up Heidi’s desk and taking that work. Pam asks what’s going on, I tell her Heidi is no longer with the company. Pam starts intercepting people who would normally come see Heidi and she begins to do her work (I never asked, I was going to get a temp). I thank her, and this buys me time to get a qualified temp which I do 2 weeks later.

I get an email a month later, Heidi wants to come back to work. I tell her “sorry the position is filled” which leads to a meltdown along the lines of “I’m sorry I was under a lot of stress, etc., so on”. I refer her to HR, the temp is working out, I offer them the role and they accept. Pam’s review comes up, I give her a stellar review due to the Heidi situation. I went to the CFO and asked for a special 5K bonus to be taken out of my dept. budget, which reduced my annual bonus (part of my comp was a % of the amount I was under budget). I gave her a 6% raise, the highest I could at the time and give her 3 “Oh shit” days.

Those are days when something happens randomly and you don’t want to use PTO but you are stuck. Think flat tire, furnace goes out during the night you get the picture. Basically 3 days I cover for her, she gets paid, we don’t use PTO. This wasn’t official policy but a lot of managers did it. The point of all this? Pam stepped up when I needed her to because that’s who she was. I rewarded her with as much as I could for doing it. Heidi? She left voice mails crying for her job, which she never got back.

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3 compensations factors that make companies great.

The great resignation marches on and in the U.S. unemployment is near record lows. Millions of people left the workforce due to the pandemic. Whether it was creating their own income streams or boomers retiring, there are a shortage of workers in the U.S. Now let’s be very clear here, the available jobs are not high end 6 figure salary roles. Sure there are some of those but nearly everyone has leveled up, so your traditional entry level positions are the ones that have the most openings presently.

Regardless of when you get a new job or if you are evaluating your current company there is one truism you always have to remember. Companies need you to perform tasks so they can make money. You wouldn’t be employed if you weren’t either generating income for the corporation, or supporting others who did. So in this sellers’ market (you the employee are the seller) we can now be even more selective of the places we want to work. There are 3 compensation factors that make companies great. This may not be in line with other lists you see out there but from an employee’s stand point, here they are.

Surviving 2020 & covid
Great, another list…..
  1. A robust retirement plan: This includes employer match, Roth and Traditional 401K/403B options. This should be managed through a large firm like a fidelity and the vesting time line is no longer than 3 years. Retirement planning is critical and most successful retirees in the modern era have created wealth through automatic withdrawals via their employer’s plan.
  • Comprehensive benefits: Health Insurance is obvious but you should have 3+ plans to choose from. Dental, LTD, STD, a 1-year life insurance of your salary. There should be A good PTO (Paid time off plan) that scales based on tenure. Every 5 years you should receive 1 additional week of PTO capping at 6 to 8. PTO should be one lump sum, vacation and sick and you get to manage it. Along with major federal holidays. This is where you really get value as this is part of your compensation package. It’s not just the annual salary, it’s the sum of the value of these “perks” as well.
  • Profit sharing: This is one of the rarest benefits you’re going to see out there. If you get into a company with this benefit you really lucked out. Most corporations keep their profits to make distributions to their shareholders. There is nothing wrong with that, they are paying you a salary and offering you benefits. It’s a fair exchange and one that has been the norm for decades. Profit sharing can come in all sorts of forms. Ideally what you get is if the company has a surplus to budget at the end of the year that amount is distributed to employees. Some managers are offered “profit sharing” of some form. I got quarterly performance bonuses based on budget performance in one role.

The 3 items listed above are in addition to your base salary. This is a sellers’ market and employees are now in a situation where they are empowered to create very good deals for themselves. THIS WILL NOT LAST FOREVER. Look, work isn’t meant to be easy. It’s likely you fall into one of two categories. You are either someone who truly loves what they do, or you work to obtain income so you can do the things you truly love.

Most of us fall into the latter category. Work is a means to get income to live life. The more perks you can get the better life becomes. Now is the time to look around, see what’s out there, measure your current work situation. Believe me if the situation was reversed and there was a surplus of workers your company would be looking to see if they could pay you less.

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One key thing to do to getting the job you want

It’s a hot job market right now in the west, at least in the U.S. where I am. Employers are throwing all sorts of incentives at people. Why this is happening is a complex mix of covid lockdowns, early retirements, people getting other jobs, supply shortages, you name it. So as someone looking for a job you are in a fantastic position. Changing jobs is the single best way to increase your employer based income. Simply put, when you get a new job you likely do so with a 5-25% increase in pay.

Promotions happen too, but it’s not as likely as you going out and getting a new job for more money. How do you get the job you want though? It’s one thing to get another job, there are plenty out there and chances are you’ll make more but how do you get a job you really want?

Before I answer that question we have to be clear here. I want to be a base player for a rock band and play in front of thousands of people. That’s not going to happen, lol. The “key thing” only applies to realistic career expectation. If you are a financial planner and you want to be a brain surgeon this probably won’t work.

For those of you who are closer to the mark, maybe you are a carpenter and want to run your own crew, or you are a warehouse worker and you want to get into management this tip can help.

Careful for what you wish for, you might get it.

So how do you get the job you want? 

You have to ask for the job.

I know sounds WAY to simple doesn’t it. Here’s the thing, asking the question starts the ball rolling. You are planting the seed now, so you can harvest the bounty later. Whomever has the ability to give you the job you have to ask them for it. Every question you don’t ask is a default no anyway so there is that but asking this person that question helps them, help you get that job.

How you ask

  1. “What can I do now to better prepare me for (insert new job name here)”
  2. “I’ve been working hard and improving my skills so I can eventually move into (insert new job name here) my best guess is 2 years from now, that sound about right?
  3. “I see myself in this role (insert new job name here) as part of my career path, do you think I am going to be a good fit for it?”

There are many other ways to frame this dialogue, you have to find what works for you but the point is you need to ask the question, directly or by inference. This can be done during interviews, annually performance reviews, whenever you feel it’s the correct time. The one major caveat is, you have to be asking the right person.

You know who they are, you know who has the ability to put you in a position to get the job you want. This is by no means a full proof system but by asking the question, you put it out there for you and the universe to know that’s what you want. It’s empowering and it puts anyone who hears the question on notice. In today’s work environment that’s huge, now is the time to go after the role you want. It’s a sellers’ market, you are in demand.

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Surviving 2020 & covid

Anxiety Sucks Vol XII. – SNAP!

I could snap.

I know many of you have probably felt this way in your life, god knows I have. I am pretty far down the road now of dealing with anxiety and stress. For those of you who might be reading for the first time my “Anxiety Sucks” volumes are my personal stories about my battles with Anxiety and Depression.

Some of my files at work were deleted. It’s really that simple. The IT department ran some updates etc. (whatever the hell they do) and I get back in Monday morning and several documents from the cloud are gone. I issue a ticket and that’s when the game starts. If you work in 2019 in an office, you realize nothing is ever anyone’s fault. There is no “blame” anymore. You know like in kids sports now, there are no losers, there is no second-place yadda yadda.

Fuck that, someone screwed up. I want their head on a pike is my first instinct. One of those documents was 3 months’ worth of work it was critical. Back up? Well doesn’t IT back everything up? Isn’t that why we have these god dam clouds? So, the emails start “Are you sure those files were up to date, and you saved them correctly”. This is what I call the foundation statements. These are the opening salvos in the blame game, which there is never anyone who actually gets blamed but we all still play it.

Sentences like this are levied to create doubt so as to temper fall out. An omission that “ya sorry, I screwed up” is not in the cards apparently. “You mean did I click the save icon when finish documents for the last 3 months? Ya I did that” was my return salvo. Meantime the end of the year approaches, there are some key things I need to do and report on PRIOR to 12/31/19. For those of you who don’t know, I am a finance professional currently working at a law firm doing numerous functions.

It’s a decent job, I touch a lot of things, it pays the bills.

“Well we will open a ticket with Microsoft to try and retrieve the data”. I know from experience that’s the kiss of death, meaning these IT people don’t know what happened, or do but can’t fix it. So, I am left waiting for them to come back and give me the bull shit excuse as to why my documents are missing. The funniest part is going to be when they weave the narrative to somehow suggest it was something I did.

This is the shit that makes me want to snap. I don’t normal swear or get angry but at this time of the year I become very susceptible to mood swings. I mean are my expectations to high? Shouldn’t I expect to have my files not deleted? I mean WTF…. So, this has flavored my mood and day for the last 48 hours. I’m sitting in bed last night thinking about it, I got to work early to see if the files were fixed. Christmas is next week, and I have a whole slew of family stuff to deal with.