£££ What are you on? £££

Tuesday, 19 July 2011, 11:03 | Category : General
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Very early on in my PR career I recall a fellow AE colleague and I having a conversation about salaries as we strolled to the tube after work. Little did we know a rather senior boss was in the vicinity, and despite being out of the office the conversation was stopped in its tracks. It was made very clear that this sort of conversation would not be tolerated, it was not the done thing, and left us both feeling a little sheepish.

Ever since, salary scales and brackets seem to only ever be the topic of hushed conversations behind closed doors. And despite assurances that you are undoubtedly at the top end for your level, that an increase is only months away, and that you are of the privileged few, you always walk away feeling a little sceptical and a little dubious as to how much of the truth you have been privy to.

Today I speak with even the most senior of PR professionals and it seems this feeling does not go away. With a complete lack of clarity, it is all too common that people wonder if they could earn more elsewhere and end up feeling that it is only those that shout the loudest or threaten to leave that reap the rewards. Indeed, it is often those that are most loyal that can end up thinking they’ve been superseded in the wage bill by new staff that have jumped from place to place.

The problem is that this scepticism is on occasion very just. I recently met with a successful senior level director that accidentally found out (as the result of a poorly addressed email) that he was actually earning considerably less than someone two rungs below them in the management structure. For him the most frustrating thing about it was the feeling that the agency had been getting one over on him, despite his 10 year loyalty. Needless to say, the subsequent wage increase was not enough to repair the damage that had been done, and he has moved on.

In a PR Moment article last week Steve Earl, MD of Speed Communications, hit the nail on the head when he called for agencies to publish salary scales. He actually goes as far as saying this should be done both internally and externally, a bold but very legitimate argument.

Granted, clarity may still lead to pay demands and staff churn, but a fair and open approach is surely only ever going to improve trust between employee and employer in the long run. It might not stop people divulging more than they should after a few pints, but at least everyone knows where they stand in the context of the agency and the industry at large.


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