Ask The Expert


by Amanda McCulloch

8th December 2014

Amanda McCulloch answers Business Women Scotland reader questions on recruitment. Extract from the December edition.

I enjoy working where I am but I've been offered a new job with a higher salary. I'm anxious about resigning as my employer will be surprised that I'm leaving. How can I best manage this difficult conversation?

Many of our candidates are concerned about handing in their resignation, so don't worry about being worried! It's also very common for candidates to search for a new job because they want to earn more money. This is understandable but when you come to hand in your resignation it usually comes as a surprise because your employer is a) unaware that you are looking for a pay rise and b) that you are considering alternative offers.

It's likely that your employer will decide to do one of two things, either accept your resignation or propose a counter-offer. This means you will be offered a pay rise in order to retain you. So, before you begin the resignation conversation think very carefully - are you sure that money is the only reason you want to resign and, if so, how much would it take to retain you? If you have already accepted the new job and do agree to a counter-offer then, unfortunately, there's still a difficult conversation to be had as retracting your acceptance will have to be done carefully in order not to damage your professional reputation. If you have not yet accepted the job offer, I'd encourage you to enter into a conversation with your current employer on the prospect of a pay rise based on your contributions, talents and skills as it may be that you can stay at a place you enjoy working and earn more money.

Our company has significant growth plans over the next couple of years, how can we ensure we are offering competitive salaries in order to attract the talent we need to grow?

Obtaining accurate salary information can be very challenging as it is often gathered by word of mouth or from job adverts which can display quite wide ranging salary bands. One of the most robust ways to determine competitive rates of pay is salary benchmarking, which compares pay rates for similar positions in different companies. It's likely that your competitors are not going to hand over this information so you will have to engage a third party specialist. When conducting salary benchmarking we encourage clients' to carefully consider the promotion and transition opportunities for their existing teams in order to identify potential medium term as well as immediately required vacancies, this is critical for planning headcount and subsequent salary costs. In a competitive market the benchmarking results may flag to clients that they have slipped below industry norms and this can lead to revised salaries for existing staff. Once you commit to benchmarking it is important to conduct regular checks, and of course, to respond to market conditions. If you work in a sector or industry which is particularly buoyant then checks more regularly than once a year may be required. If your business operates within our specialist areas you may find our salary guide a useful initial resource.

We would like to expand the benefits we could offer to our employees but as a small company we are mindful of cost implications. Any ideas?

The modern workplace is changing quite dramatically as personal motivations and employee expectations evolve. Employees are placing increasing importance on intangible, non-financial rewards and want to learn, grow, contribute, be recognised and work in an environment of trust. As a relatively small company ourselves we work hard to ensure our employees feel appreciated and other initiatives which we have introduced over the years, which have been very well received, include a day off for your birthday, an initiative called Your Time, where every employee has half a day a month to use exactly as they wish and a Volunteering Day, where employees can contribute to a local charity for the day, instead of coming to work. Our Buddy system for new starts has been very popular and participating in corporate discount schemes has resulted in up to 20% discount on products and services for our staff. Essentially, it is important to offer employees what they consider a benefit. There's no point in providing a car allowance if everyone cycles to work!

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