Salary transparency laws are cropping up across the country to eliminate pay inequity. For many candidates, it is a long-awaited shift from secretive pay scales and the dreaded ‘based on experience’ line in a job description. Previously, time and effort were put into the interviewing process without knowing whether the compensation was worth it. However, the market conditions have changed and candidates in highly technical fields are being sought after aggressively. Companies don’t have the luxury of holding compensation information hostage through several rounds of interviews. Regardless of transparency laws, they are being forced to openly compete for talent.
However, this shift has had an unintended consequence on long-haul employees who have spent years or even decades with their current employer. Long-tenure employees are dependable and the backbone to many organizations. Their knowledge extends beyond job skills. They understand the culture, are self sufficient and consistent. Yet now they are also realizing that they are being underpaid.
Employers get a discount through long-term employees. They aren’t wooing them with aggressive sign-on bonuses or 2022-style compensation packages. These employees have settled in and received 1%-3% raises every year for their service. They are steady and easy to manage. As attractive compensation packages are being advertised openly, employers worry that one of their most valuable assets will start looking elsewhere.
Organizations know that they can’t offer shiny comp packages across the board for new and existing employees. Thus, it is imperative that they don’t forget about their own staff as they chase after the next great engineer. Very few organizations operate based on one individual. There is a team of staff with varying degrees of experience and knowledge that work to make the organization successful.
It is unwise to assume that your most loyal employees are willing to overlook negligible pay raises when they are now able to see what newer (and potentially less experienced) candidates are being offered. Skills can be taught to those who are willing and able, but experience combined with industry (and company) knowledge take time capital to develop.
Over the next several months, long-haul employees will realize that they may not be at a premium within their own organization but are highly desired elsewhere.