How much SHOULD you be earning?

By October 29, 2018Perspectives

TL;DR – Entitled much? 

If there is a type of article that I hate more than fake news and clickbait, it has to be articles telling you how much you should be earning based on the industry you are in.

I do not deny the fact that it does help jobseekers in very small ways to know how much they should roughly be getting but on the other hand, I think it gives people some sort of entitlement that simply because you are in this industry hence you should be fairly paid according to market rate. I really do not see how does this benefit both employers and employees. How can two people with very different capabilities be paid the same amount or within the same bracket simply because we are in the same industry and with the same amount of work experience? What about the other qualities that one as an individual can bring to the table?

As an employee, I would feel that it’s really unfair if my colleague who doesn’t do as well as I gets paid the same salary as me simply because the industry dictates so. Not because I’m jealous but it’s simply because it will cultivate laziness and reduces motivation to work hard if your pay is no longer based on performance.

Is this once again something to “level the playing field” and battle “inequality” simply by removing meritocracy? I find it a little too simplified and naive if we believe that this is a solution.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, a peer recently shared an article by Workforce Singapore titled “Know Your Worth: Here’s How Much You Should Be Earning In 2018 Based On Your Industry”

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Based on the title, it is probably published in late 2017 but this is not an original article if you asked me. I’m sure we have read something like this from various sites over the years.

The article also stated some stats based on the Ministry of Manpower’s wage survey.

In their words, ” Based on Ministry of Manpower’s Occupational Wage Survey (H2 2017), we’ve dissected how much you should be earning based on the range of incomes earned by Singapore workers in these sectors and roles:”

Yes, I’ve problem with the choice of word. SHOULD. Seriously?

And here are some of the results:

I’ve no problem with MOM’s survey or the results to be honest. However, putting this up and saying this is how much you should get just does not sit well with me.

Of course, they go on trying to blur the lines by saying these,

“Remember that salary ranges are continually changing, based on the job market and rate of inflation”

“Keep in mind that there may be other perks that make the tradeoff of staying — even at a lower salary — worth it for you.”

“If the company is a startup or a new venture, you should also consider future growth and compensation potential.”

“Salary is not the only compensation consideration you should think about — the benefits package you receive should also be included in the equation.” 

But given that we are living in a time where people just love to read headlines and see what they want to see, this kind of articles really doesn’t help the workforce at all.

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Not forgetting this sentence,

“So if you find out that you’re making less than you’re worth, you can either ask for a raise or look for a new job that offers you a pay that is aligned with the market rate.”

Maybe it’s just me but I am one of those employers that always asks myself what type of value can I bring to the company before asking how much should the company be paying me. If I’m not producing good work or helping the company in the way it needs me to, who am I to ask for the “right” amount of pay.

I feel that it is because of such articles that cause a lot of fresh grads to be not able to get jobs.

I had this interviewee coming to me many years ago and this was what went down.

Her, “I want this job and I am looking at a starting pay of $2,800.”

Me, “Okay. That’s actually higher than what I am looking for but I am willing to pay this price if it’s worth my money. So you have a list of clients that you can help increase my sales?”

Her, “No.”

Me, “Fine, if you can’t help me earn money, what about saving money? Do you have a list of vendors that probably can give me discounts and help the company save money?”

Her, “No.”

Me, “Okay. So given that you are a fresh graduate with no experience, and no contacts, how can you justify that you should be paid this amount of money?”

Her, “I’m willing to learn from you if you are willing to teach me. I’ve a degree and I’ve read some articles saying that this is the rate I should be getting as a fresh graduate. And my friends just got a job at $2,800 as well.”

No, if you are curious, she did not get the job.

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That being said, please do not mix this situation with the Progressive Wage Model (PWM). The PWM is a productivity-based wage progression pathway that helps to increase wages of workers through upgrading skills and improving productivity. It is mandatory for workers in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors which are mostly outsourced services. Developed by tripartite committees consisting of unions, employers and the government, the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) helps to uplift low-wage workers in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors.

Wages in these sectors had stagnated due to widespread cheap sourcing and a limited scope for collective bargaining, as prices are locked in once contracts are signed. In turn, the low wages resulted in high turnover and labour shortages. The PWM benefits workers by mapping out a clear career pathway for their wages to rise along with training and improvements in productivity and standards.  At the same time, higher productivity improves business profits for employers. Service buyers also enjoy better service standards and quality.

So unless you are from these segment of the industry where workers are not being protected for years, please do take such articles with a pinch of salt.

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Smith Leong

Author Smith Leong

Social Media Trainer @ NTUC | Youth Mentor | Labour Champion | Photographer | Content Creator |

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