How much should I get paid?
January 11, 2018 4:25 AM   Subscribe

The company I work for wants me to absorb another job. I want to make sure I get paid appropriately. What should I expect my raise to be? Details within.

I'm currently an office admin and do office management functions for a small satellite office of a company of approximately 200 people total, plus a few other functions that touch a wider group than just my office population. My job is easy, low stress, and I have time to spare, though the future of this particular role is uncertain given changes in our company. Level of pay: $50,500.

To this role they would like me to add all payroll responsibilities. I have done a small amount of payroll functions in the past at a previous job and expect I'll be able to add this to my current duties without an enormous amount of additional stress once I get up to speed on it. No one yet has mentioned a pay increase, but every time the topic has been brought up in the past I've said something to the effect of, "I'm happy to take on additional job roles if folks want to pay me more." Official word has come down from on high, and they want to bring me down to the main office within a month to train on payroll. So I need to get my pay range expectations in line now. (Job will not need to relocate me, I stay where I'm at but need to travel to train, just so that's clear.)

People in client-facing roles (approx half the staff) at this company make ballpark $80-90K per year. People in management roles make $90-150K per year. I don't have a ballpark for exec staff, sales, or other HR/finance department salaries. But hopefully this gives you an idea of what the company pays in general.

What salary range should I expect/demand for adding "payroll manager" for a group of approx 200 to my existing job roles?

posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I found it helpful to read books in negotiation just for situations like you find yourself in. Since you may not have time now, here are a couple things to consider.

You can benchmark what payroll jobs are paying in similar sized companies in your region using Glassdoor.

You can price what it would cost to outsource payroll at your company (and ask for less than the difference from the prevailing payroll salary in the region).

Sounds to me like your management wants you to work harder and not get much of an increase. I’m not sure how strong your position is at the moment.

The main question is how much do you want to make? Are you ready to walk if you ask for it and don’t get it?

MeMail me if you want book recommendations.
posted by rw at 7:03 AM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, are there other things besides salary that could make you happy?

Training? Special equipment? Flexible hours? Bus passes?

Salary is not the only thing you can ask for in a negotiation.
posted by rw at 7:10 AM on January 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

You get paid a salary now and don’t have enough work to do. They want you to do more work as a result (and since you’ve offered). How much more work is adding payroll going to be? Is it all automated and you’re just using software without many manual corrections (lots of salaried employees), or will you have to learn and administer lots of changes each pay period? Will you end up working a busy 40 hours, or will it be 50 now? If it’s indeed more hours, ask for a proportionate raise. If they’re just asking you to actually work the hours they’ve been paying you for, that’s going to be more difficult (you’ve been paid a full time salary for part time work from your description, which is possibly why the position has an uncertain future as is).
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 7:10 AM on January 11, 2018 [8 favorites]

It does seem that you should get a raise. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Many companies prefer to give additional responsibilities first, and then a raise based on successful management of the new responsibilities. Furthermore, Payroll is a big responsibility, but management may see it as simply pushing a few software buttons at appropriate times. One assumes people are already getting paid — have you discussed the job and its salary with the person doing it currently? Do you know someone in management with whom you could discuss this informally before you make demands? The fact that you say the continuation of your current role is uncertain makes me worry that this is a "X's job is going away, what can we let X do instead" situation, in which case management may view themselves as already doing you a favor. I agree with rw's suggestions, and that, if you demand a raise, you need to be prepared to walk if you don't get it. On the other hand, once you have accepted the training, taken on the new responsibilities, and entrenched yourself in the job, it will be a lot harder for them to lose you, and hence a lot more difficult for them to deny you a reasonable raise, while you, having had experience in the job, will be in a much better position to determine what you should be getting.
posted by ubiquity at 7:11 AM on January 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you have spare time and your role is uncertain, I would raise an eyebrow if you came demanding a salary increase before you took on additional responsibilities.

I would not consider payroll tasks as a separate "job role". Except in the largest of companies, payroll is one of many responsibilities within one role and office managers are commonly tasked with that function. Your role will stay the same. Your impact to the company will remain largely the same. It's a very important role! But I'm just saying this new task is not making a large change in that contribution compared to say, managing people or setting budgets. If your was role was inherently changing then I would say you were in a good place to ask for both a title change and salary adjustment. However, it's not.

Like someone said above, presumably people are already getting paid. Someone else is doing this task already. You are not the only person who can do this task.

So in the opinion of someone who has been in management for 10 years, the answer to your question of what you should expect or demand? $0

"I won't do it unless I get $2,000" will not go down well. However, I think you should say "Before I take on this task can you assure me that this will be factored in as an important consideration at my next performance review?".

And to be frank, given the circumstances you have given about your job and that you're in a satellite office, I think you're rather lucky they threw you a bone to shore up the security your job.
posted by like_neon at 7:40 AM on January 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

I think you need to figure out if they are transitioning you to a new role, if they are training you as back-up in case the main person goes on vacation or leave, or if they want you to do two jobs, payroll and admin.

If they want to transition you or train you as back-up, jump on that. Payroll is great experience to have. Ask them for a review in 90 days ir six months, at which time you can possibly ask for a salary increase.

If they want you to do two jobs, either address that head-on, or take the training but begin planning your exit (with your additional training on your resume). Only you can make the judgement as to which is the better strategy as you know the company culture.
posted by vignettist at 8:03 AM on January 11, 2018

[This is a followup from the asker.]
Hi, everyone. Some questions have come up that I can answer...

1) I have no oversight at this office so no one knows how much I'm "really" working. I'm the office manager for this small office, the travel manager for the entire company, transit benefit manager, and do the purchasing/expense report making for the primary purchasing credit card for the whole company with hundreds of transactions a month. None of this is difficult *for me* but there are people in the main office who have literally 1/3 of the responsibilities I do who struggle with the load. When people from the main office talk to me they always assume I'm busy.

2) Everyone swears that this satellite office is always going to be here. Our local staff has shrunk by a few people recently and I don't personally trust that there will be a need for a physical office one year from now (if that trend continues, which it may not), but no one has actually said this or implied this in any way. I just don't trust employers in general.

3) For the last 3 years the payroll was co-managed by two different people who shared HR duties. They both did a phenomenally poor job--there were mistakes every single pay period. Several months ago one of them quit and the other was immediately fired (due, presumably, to incompetence). A (one) new employee was hired to take over their jobs and she's been drowning. When we had the turnover I immediately said I could "help" with a lot of the roles since much of it I had done before and I was told that the new employee was "very confident" she could manage all the roles. After several months with a handful of expensive errors, it's finally at the point where I'm officially being given payroll.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:48 AM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Being good at your job such that it is low-stress and you are not perpetually playing catch-up is not license for companies to freely add more responsibilities to your plate until you are always stressed and perpetually behind.

I have been in this situation before, where a company has doubled my responsibilities by halving their headcount. If this is a job that was previously done by another FTE, you deserve to add that downsized role's compensation to your own. This will not happen. You, like me, will likely be offered a cost of living increase of about 3%, and might just double that. If you're lucky. From the business's point of view they've been overpaying you to sit around half the time, right?

You should never mention to anyone else you work with that you have time to spare. Businesses love to exploit efficient workers and if you take on these extra responsibilities you are now too valuable to promote, they'll never be able to find someone to take over your combined role.

My playbook in this situation is now to never concede that I have time to pick up any additional job duties. When an opportunity comes along to move into a more interesting or lucrative role, the goal is to be promoted and train your replacement who will continue to work under you. I say to the bosses, I'd love to get into payroll but I'd need someone to help me out with the admin work.

You're probably too far in now to pump the brakes. You might be able to get away with some level of this looks like too much for me to add to my plate unaided as you learn more about what payroll duties actually entail, but that could also easily be seen as getting cold feet, or the manager in charge whose bonus incentive is predicated on reducing headcount/salary expense may completely lose interest.

Good luck!
posted by books for weapons at 8:50 AM on January 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

I don't know how expensive your city is to live in or what type of company you work for, but when you said your salary as an office manager was low stress with ample free time AND paid $50k a year, my jaw LITERALLY dropped.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't make a case for a raise or additional privileges or future consideration for merit-based raises/promotions if you're taking on more significant duties (lean in, my friend). But from where I'm sitting, you are in a REALLY sweet spot already, both salary-wise and job duties-wise, compared with other office managers of my acquaintance.

If your position's future is as uncertain as you say, I would proceed armed with hard data and numbers when requesting a raise since, tragically, the simple fact that more work should equal more money is one that is often lost on the modern office workplace. They often just chalk this kind of thing up to "other duties as assigned" and keep on rolling. It sucks, but so does late stage capitalism.

Go through the training process, ask around and get a feel for approximately how much time per week/month handling payroll for 200 employees will take and how difficult the software is to learn/deal with, and if you do meet with your boss to request a raise based on these new duties, do so armed with specifics like, "This process is more involved than I'd initially believed and looks like it will take up an additional X hours per week, Y if we have new employees starting. I've done some research on the salary range for positions that handle these duties and it looks closer to Z." [insert more skilled negotiation here]

If they can't do a raise right then, maybe that's something they could take into consideration at your next performance review, like like_neon mentioned, or have the raise kick in further down the line once you're out of the training phase. Maybe if nothing else, your position title could be updated to reflect your new responsibilities. If you're not happy with what shakes loose in these negotiations or your job becomes way more stressful as a result, start casting an eye around for other opportunities. Maybe one that's just payroll if you end up liking it?

Good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 9:08 AM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I cannot believe the people upthread who are saying you should just take these responsibilities on without any change in compensation. More responsibility = more comp, regardless of how many hours the asker currently works. Especially considering the strength of your bargaining position as pretty essential to the day-to-day running of that office.

The best information you can get your hands on is how much they paid for a similarly situated HR job (even though payroll was split between two people -- what were each of them paid? What are other same-level HR jobs paid?). Maybe during your training you'll come across this information naturally (i.e. not as a result of digging into confidential files!). Also, you should take rw's suggestions and look up payroll manager salaries at comparable firms on glassdoor, in books, or talk to friends in similar roles.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 10:56 AM on January 11, 2018 [8 favorites]

I do think that a lot of companies would consider this level of additional work as you’ve described it as falling under that “other duties as assigned”wording that’s probably tacked onto your job description to cover additional job duties that may come up. But it varies, and maybe you can make a case for a raise depending on how much additional time and effort this is going to take. It’s certainly worth the ask.

But I don’t think that it’s a given that this level of new work definitely would qualify you for a raise in all workplaces, so you may be better off not walking in with that assumption. Dependent on your industry, what you know of your management, etc., of course.
posted by Stacey at 11:19 AM on January 11, 2018

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