I believe that in a global research, a majority of employees would state that they are underpaid. There probably actually is such a research but I was too lazy to find it. Sounds logical. In South East Europe this is for sure over indexed. Most of us is thinking that we should have higher salaries.
And to be clear at the very beginning: I’m not talking here about the people who have their own businesses, family business or make a living being free artists. Or play football. This is about us, corporate servants. Us, working in more or less decent local or international companies, on decent jobs.
Me and my friends, a few successful professionals were discussing if we are paid enough or not, a few days ago, in a fancy Belgrade night club, after a few drinks. The majority was OK with their salaries, stating, however, that they could be a bit higher. Then I started thinking: where is the line when you can say that you are well paid and if you cross that line – can you say that you are overpaid? Is there such a thing as overpaid?
Every business has certain logic, P&L, revenue potential, long range plans, forecasts… And there is a certain range of salaries that makes sense according to a budget and business plan. Plus or minus 30% based on some specific circumstances.
But this is why I think it’s not good if you are significantly better paid then people of a similar level in similar companies on your market. By significantly I’m talking about 3x, 5x or more.
- If your company pays you 3x or 5x then what is a logical salary for that position and industry/market, there is a fat chance that they expect from you to do things that are not actually in your job description. Some of those things might be barely legal. They might go from using a range of personal connections to finish some kind of work, to entertaining business partners in a way that you can’t put in official expense report. Use your imagination for more plastic examples.
- If you are paid significantly better than the referential group of your peers, your company might expect that you leave your personal life and hand it over to some other people. Or put it on hold for a decade or two. It becomes much easier for your superior to start ruining your work-life balance and justifying that with the extraordinary conditions that you have. The most dangerous thing here is that after some time you also start to think that way. You don’t even need the evil superior.
- If you are overpaid it becomes very hard for you to change the job. Yes, we all say it’s not all about the salary. We want some other things from our jobs. But, when you are extremely well paid it’s hard to go down to a 30% of your current salary. Not due to the money you need, but due to a perception that you are going down with your career. And this works quite similarly for every salary category that goes over covering all basic needs. In this way you became a more probable victim of mobbing or become a part of a system pathology in the workplace.
- You can create an idea about yourself, that you are very important. That you are doing something so big and that you are irreplaceable. And then, overnight, you lose your job because after a while there is someone younger ready to do all that and even more for 50% less. Or your company decides to leave the market. If you were indeed so good and important then you will continue as an entrepreneur without any significant problems. But if that was actually not the case – then you are in trouble. You will experience some pain. I watched some people in that situation. It’s not nice and it’s not easy.
I know that, taking into account that this is a country/region that has 400-600 EUR average salary, this post belongs to a category “The Rich Also Cry” but for a professional that has more than average but still isn’t actually rich, just normal – this temptation can be quite realistic. Amount itself is very relative and not crucial for this story.
Cheers to temptations! And good (but not too good) salaries.