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nine to five
The question

I have worked for the same company for 37 years. This year, I received a three-per-cent raise. My last raise before that was in 2014, which was also nominal. I’ve been an outstanding employee. My supervisor, area manager and HR say I have to move up a level to earn more, but I haven’t succeeded in gaining higher positions. When my supervisor was giving my annual review via Skype she said, “We’re giving you a three per cent raise this year but don’t you think for a minute that you’ll ever get promoted or ever get a raise ever again.” Is there anything that can be done? I’m 62. There were no witnesses as to what was exchanged during my year-end review.

The first answer

Laura M. Muir, director of human resources, Polaris Transportation Group, Mississauga

It is unfortunate that your supervisor does not value your contributions or the knowledge you attained after so many years of dedication. However, tenure with an organization does not entitle you to a promotion. Investing in yourself and devising a plan with HR guidance to attain your full potential is of greater importance, especially if your manager does not share an interest in developing your abilities. I would suggest that you set three goals before your next review and strategically prepare a plan to boost your competency. You should then schedule a meeting with your supervisor and HR team to discuss your ambitions so everyone involved is held accountable.

Being with the organization for such an extensive amount of time may also place you in the upper end of the pay grade. Thus, you can ask the company to clarify your existing position. The market climate may have contributed to wage freezes because of the widespread effects of COVID-19 and more recent inflation.

I understand that meetings with your supervisor may be awkward following a lack of acumen. It is best to mitigate this by initiating a conversation about your experience, as well as why said treatment was not appreciated. Although no one was present, you can still summarize your conversation in an email to put the events on record.

Ageism is discriminatory. The company should encourage you if you are able to demonstrate the skills necessary for reaching planned, self-development objectives.

The second answer

Annika Reinhardt and Crystal Henrickson, Talent Collective, Vancouver

That feedback would be tough to hear, although it is not uncommon to max out within your pay grade if you have been in the same position for a long time. Let’s look at some options to consider in this situation.

Stay put. With the economy potentially shifting, there might be advantages in holding on to a stable position. Salary might still increase over time through market or cost of living adjustments (COLA). Market adjustments are a reflection of changes in the cost of labour, COLA is often used to counteract inflation. These increases are generally companywide and independent of performance. Find out if the raise you received falls into one of these categories. If so, is the company planning on considering these regularly? Note that these raises are discretionary and not guaranteed.

Change jobs internally. As mentioned by your company, levelling up might be the only way to advance to another pay grade. Determine what skills you are lacking and how to fill any competency gaps that are holding you back from advancing. Make a plan and share it with HR if your manager is not receptive. Also, consider a lateral move into a different department where there might be more opportunities to level up.

Explore external alternatives. Are you planning on retiring with the company or are you keen to try out something different? For example, many baby boomers are entering the “gig economy”, offering their in-depth expertise as independent contractors. Why not experiment with a side project while still employed to see if there is potential.

Whether deciding to stay put, change jobs internally or explore external alternatives, it is important to evaluate what is truly important to you.

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