“If you ask for more money, it will be offensive”

“If you ask for more money, it will be offensive” were key words uttered to myself and my co-workers in one company I once worked for.  On the surface it may sound a bit odd, but there was some very reasonable context for it.

The company I was working for really enjoyed dominance in it’s marketplace for several decades but like many other companies – if they don’t readily change and keep up they can see their market position (combined with costs rising) dwindle till it’s unprofitable (or at least not meeting their targets).

As with this employer, it really didn’t move with the times – and unfortunately a lot of “Catching Up” had to be done with a fairly viscous restructure combined with extensive retrenchments and “Squeezing Out” of unwanted individuals.

During this time, the phrase above “If you ask for more money, it will be offensive” was banded to us by senior management.  This was imposed on “Everyone” with 2 year wage freeze.  They made it clear that “It would apply to everyone with NO EXCEPTIONS”.

As the company was in a bit of trouble (which was obvious), although it does leave a bitter taste in ones mouth – I am a commercial man and could accept what happened.  In fact, I am all for wage freezes when companies are in trouble (i.e. it’s better to earn less and keep everyone in a job).

About a 1 year later (with my pay really starting to lag behind industry average especially compared to some of my peers) I overhead chatter and found out that some people in the company were actually getting pay rises.  One was a friend of mine, that actually went to resign – the company offered them an extra $10K and they chose to stay.

Wow did I see red! I confronted Management immediately and was very upset at the deception and they didn’t deny it – but they could work out who told me.  That person that told me was completely berated!   I then went and asked an explanation as to “Well, I am earning my targets – I do 60 – 70 hours per week – why can’t I get some?” and was given the answer of “We can’t do that in your case and if you tell anyone, we will take action against you”.

This was a very unethical move – they all openly lied to us and when the truth of their deception bubbles to the surface they then bullied & threatened me back into line.

I actually didn’t have to tell anyone anyway, as people started figuring it out and it became common knowledge fairly quickly.

On a funny ironic note, I got a far better job and when I went to resign they tried to “Talk me out of it” and my manager at the time threw cold water over the opportunity (which was great I may add) that I was moving too.

This was a tough lesson and certainly taught me about being naive! I believe in hard work and putting in your personal best – but always keep an eye out and ensure your employer is doing the right thing by you! 🙂

I have found in my experience some companies are great and really value their staff, but unfortunately you get some companies or individuals that see employees as they would a piece of machinery (and would easily discard you as one would throw out a broken Kettle).

* Thanks to Jason Scragz from Flickr for the great picture of the Gun & Money.