There are those who say that those who only work for a salary will always feel underpaid. They are surely the same ones who say that money does not give even a little happiness. For the common of the mortals, the thing is not so clear. Everybody wants an atmosphere of job where the tension is not cut with a knife, superiors who deserve the award for boss of the year and facilities to reconcile. Even having a table football in the meeting room is highly valued, you never know what you will end up becoming fond of. But if all this is accompanied by a measly salary, the excellent work environment loses all its appeal, the boss’s jokes stop being funny and the conciliation … well, that’s always appreciated. The question is: how do you know if your job is poorly paid or your company is making money at your expense? In other words, how do you find out that the competition (or your own employers) are paying more to others who perform the same functions?
It is an important question, but difficult to answer. Even more so in the unstable and volatile era of the covid. But you can tell. The first step is to gather enough information about the area in which your job falls. In the most general context, the most frequent salary among Spaniards (not the average, which is about 5,000 euros higher), is 17,482 euros per year, according to the latest data from the INE. The average salary of those who work in the energy sector triples this figure, while workers who work in bars and hotels have average salaries of 14,500 euros per year. “The value of your job is associated with the demand it has”, Explains Mayte Santibáñez, psychologist and coach expert in career guidance. “It’s like the real estate market: if there are many houses available and few buyers, the price will go down, and vice versa. You have to see your job in the same way, “he says.
To find information that speaks of constant and sound figures in your sector, it is best to go to tools that can be reports such as the latest Spring Professional Labor Market Guide, published by Adecco. The document includes the salaries of the ten most relevant sectors during the last year, as well as a forecast for the future. Another possibility is salary calculators available on websites such as Randstad, in which variables such as current position, years of experience, sector and geographical area are taken into account. To investigate how much other workers are charging in your same position and different companies there are platforms such as Glassdoor or Indeed. After this first analysis, you can already get a general idea of how good your salary is, but you have to go further.
Define high salary …
If you are one of those who see the glass half empty, you may be surprised by going to these platforms to realize that you charge more than other colleagues. But there is also the possibility that you will be disappointed by checking that, for your bosses, you are worth half of what you would be worth in another company. Before your pulse quickens and you rant in a big way against the injustices of the world of work, it is convenient to make a point: certain concepts of the payroll can make the numbers dance. And a lot. The reason is that “the remuneration that a worker receives could be composed of a salary fixed, a variable salary, social benefits, allowances, transportation expenses … ”, explains Álvaro Ceballos, sales manager at Randstad. Hence, what two people who work in the same office and in a similar position charge may not be the same.
So is it impossible to know how much is charged in a job? Not quite. And how does one get out of doubt? In Ceballos’s opinion, “there is nothing better than direct referrals”. That is, ask your colleagues, one by one, how far you go. The more the merrier. The problem with this second step is that not everyone is comfortable with a conversation that begins with the question “How much do you earn?” Especially if it is Spanish … If this is your case, it is possible that, in order not to raise it directly, you enter a labyrinth so convoluted that the interlocutor does not know what you are talking about. Or that due to a mixture of fear and modesty, you lower your voice so much that you end up asking an inaudible question.
Fortunately for you, there are strategies to raise the issue without causing discomfort. “Ideally, the one who asks first should clearly state their interest in knowing the answer,” says Carlos Murillo, coach career guidance, leadership and communication. “For example: ‘Hello, I am negotiating with the company to assume a position very similar to the one you hold and I would like to know the salary range to be able to negotiate well,” he advises.
You will find colleagues who would prefer to politely leave you with the unknown, but even if they gave you a figure and even broke down all the concepts of their payroll, it is possible that their salary is not extrapolated. “It is increasingly common for the salary to be determined by the professional’s contribution of value,” says Rocío Millán, regional director of Spring Professional, the Adecco group’s selection consultant. That is Sometimes the remuneration does not depend so much on the position as on what we make the company earn based on “our work experiences, our successes, our failures … And our personal and work skills that we have developed year after year,” says Millán, ensuring that, although it is important to have technical knowledge, it is just as relevant to have, for example, skills to work in uncertain environments like the current ones. There are no exact sciences here …
What the contract says and not everyone reads
Remuneration may vary up or down based on specific benefits, perks, and personal experiences, but your detective work already deserves an A mark if you have references from other colleagues, job platforms, salary calculators, and guides. that analyze the job market. It is enough material to give you an idea of whether you are well paid or badly paid, perhaps enough to save you the third step. But it never hurts to give it to check a fundamental reference to know what is the minimum that, legally, we should charge: the collective agreement.
As Álvaro Ceballos explains, a company can decide whether to apply a sectoral agreement or its own. Both are public and regulate working conditions of employees such as the number of hours of the working day, the minimum wage, vacations … so going to it is key to know if everything is in order. The agreement that governs the employment relationship is usually cited in the employment contract, but if it does not appear, you can ask those responsible for human resources. If your company does not have them or they do not solve the problem, the national advisory committee on collective agreements will clear up your doubts unless the company does not have its own agreement or there is no sectoral agreement. Then, the General Workers’ Statute would be the one that should be put into practice, although, according to Ceballos, the usual thing is that it is not so difficult to find out our agreement. “In most cases, companies usually use document management software to give all their workers access to the agreement by which they are governed, so that they are aware of their working conditions,” he says.
If after all this research you conclude that, although you charge above the legal minimum, you are underpaid, as seven out of ten Spaniards interviewed in 2016 thought for a survey, the dilemma will be whether to ask for a salary increase, change companies or continue as if nothing waiting for the outlook to improve. And you can always be content with a new table football in the meeting room.