Can an Average Employee Change a Dysfunctional Company?

Right now they are looking at their bottom line, which looks good.

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Suzanne Lucas
Dear Evil HR Lady,

This is an issue with my current employment. I have been with the company for 11 years, and we lose a lot of good programmers to other local firms who pay better. I've stayed with my employer because they have the better contracts, and in some ways, better opportunities to program. However, they don't have great professional development, and I am paid about $30,000 less per annum than I would likely get elsewhere. The company is hemorrhaging good programmers, and we have three vacancies in my team alone (out of 7 positions for programmers). Obviously, the working environment is becoming untenable. I am about to take 3 months long service leave and no one is replacing my key position. The positions are at best being dispersed among the few who remain.

And so, the question. Can I, a humble programmer with no managerial responsibility or authority, actually do anything to change the situation?

[See 15 essentials to getting hired.]

I would love to give you a little sample dialogue that will make the powers-that-be go, "Oh! We are underpaying everyone. Here are big raises all around!" But any company that would let their salaries get behind their competitors by $30,000 would not be willing to listen to me. They are getting the contracts, they have people like you who stick around, and they don't mind the turnover.

So, my question is, why stay there? If you can get $30,000 a year more, elsewhere, go get it.

[See why no one cares about your career like you do.]

But, you don't want to, for some reason. I'm guessing that it has to do with the better contracts they have. It may be worth it to you to to be guaranteed a lower salary every month then to have a bigger salary that may be ripped away from you when no contracts are available.

It's all about choices and this is one you've made. You're free to make another choice as well.

Now, it is possible for you to help them see the problems the company is facing. It will eventually fail if it can't keep programmers. So, if you want to address this, address it as "this is bad for the business." They probably have a steady supply of contracts because they are underpaying their programmers, but those will go away if deadlines can't be met. So, that would be the approach I would go for.

[See the 4 big career potholes.]

But, right now they are looking at their bottom line, which looks good, and they're not taking into account the toll it takes on their current employees, and they are not seeing the costs involved in recruiting new people.

So, it boils down to the fact that it's unlikely this company will change. It's up to you to decide if this is something you are willing to accept.

Suzanne Lucas has nine years of human resources experience, most of which have been in a Fortune 500-company setting. She holds a Professional in Human Resources certificate from the Society for Human Resource Management. She blogs at Evil HR Lady.