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5 reasons we are not underpaid (even if we seriously believe we are)

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Do we believe we are underpaid or do we believe we are not underpaid? We may certainly be underpaid.

I started working 2 months before my 21st birthday. I am a few months away from my 44th birthday. So, my total professional working years would be 23 years and counting. In terms of pay, I think I am paid just about right. Not overpaid (hopefully I am right) but also not underpaid (I hope so too). However, I understand that these days, more and more people believe that they are underpaid. They believe the world has become a bad place and treated them badly. Today, let’s just look at 7 reasons why we are not underpaid (even if we seriously believe we are.

Reason #1 – Are we able to find another job paying us a higher pay than currently? Or are there jobs available? A check using ‘manager’ as a keyword in jobstreet.com.my showed that as at today, there are over 17,000 of such manager jobs being posted. If we assume there are at least 3 times more of similar jobs not posted, then we are talking about over 50,000 manager jobs just within today. Of course, if the job is not posted, finding them does seem harder.

Reason #2 – Are there anyone else, whether younger, peer or older who’s able to do our job for less pay? Every time we look at the salary range for our position, we may have noticed that our current salary may be in the middle of the salary range. This meant that there are others who are doing the same job but with same pay currently. Thus, if we believe we are underpaid, then there are those who are even more underpaid and if they get our job, they will be very happy.

Reason #3 – Are there many others who could perform even better than us and they only want the same pay? Be very honest with ourselves. Do we have junior colleagues who have learnt how to do what we do and it does seem that they could soon do what we do even better than how we do it. When this happens, we either do even better by improving or we start to lose our competitiveness and may be passed over for promotion in favour of the younger colleague.

Reason #4 – Are there people in other countries who could do the same job for very much lower pay? In case we did not know, we should know the term called ‘out-source.’ This has happened in our favour thus far. People in many more advanced and usually expensive countries are losing their jobs because their company wanted to cut the operations cost and they have chosen to relocate some of their jobs to cheaper cost countries.

Many Malaysians could do what they could do, so they come here and pay in RM versus their local currency. Just note that while we kept saying that Ringgit is depreciating etc, there are still many countries for which the people start to improve their english, their skills, their expertise and would soon provide a challenge to us here since the cost to hire these talents may be even lower.

#5 – Are we still doing ALMOST the same thing but our pay has been increased every year except 2020 due to COVID-19? Many say they are underpaid but when asked to increase their productivity, they will drag their feet and again reiterated that they are already underpaid, why need to work ever harder? By the way, this ‘chicken and egg’ situation will come back to haunt us in the future because as we get older, the cost to employ us kept getting higher and one day, we would be seen as overpaid… (definitely not underpaid)

Need examples? Well, if we used to be transactional sales people (where we kept repeating scripts) and today we are still transactional sales people and could not transform into a solution selling sales people, then we are going to become extinct soon. If we are a senior manager in a traditional organisation which is transforming itself into an online / internet organisation and we know little to nothing about the new direction, stop blaming anyone but ourselves in the near future.

Conclusion. There are certainly lots of reasons which people put forth why they are underpaid but seriously, if we feel under-appreciated and underpaid today, why are we still working at the same job and suffering? Why we dare to complain to all our friends that the company is treating the employees very badly and yet we dare not do anything about it? If I am your friend, I would not laugh at you but deep inside my heart, I would be asking, ‘why are you still there if the company treats you so badly?’

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