SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is answering HR questions as part of a series for USA Today.
Do you have an HR or work-related question you’d like him to answer? Submit it here.
About four months ago, I started my first job in my career field. I generally get along well with the people I work with. However, I find it challenging to tolerate a few of them. One of my co-workers has a Republican candidate sticker on her laptop, and I am more liberal-leaning. While she doesn’t bring it up in conversation, I feel some type of way when I see the sticker in meetings. Is it appropriate for her to display her political leanings in the workplace? —Jodi
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Employees often tout how much they embrace workplace diversity and inclusion—that is until we don’t like or agree with it. Political affiliation is a form of diversity, which means it’s perfectly fine for your colleague, in this case, to be Republican and to have a sticker on her laptop. So, while this might not be the answer you were hoping for, displaying a person’s political leanings is likely just fine.
Now there are some employer policies that limit political and/or social expression, but these are rare. If a co-worker is displaying something against company policy, consider bringing it to the attention of your manager or HR.
In your career, you will work with people with diverse backgrounds, interests and perspectives. I encourage you to adjust your approach in situations like this one. You probably want to feel free to bring your whole self to work, and your co-worker likely feels the same.
Diversity of thought can yield a more productive workplace when people are open and accepting. Try not to label your co-worker based on political affiliation. Instead of gearing up for a political confrontation, consider having a conversation with your co-worker and being open to their point of view. You may have more in common with your co-worker than you might think.
We should be able to cultivate a mutual understanding of and respect for each other’s political perspectives, even though we may hold differing opinions. Having an open, honest discussion can improve communication and help alleviate stress when working together.
I have been working for four years as an insurance analyst without receiving a raise. In that time frame, my company has gone through multiple layoffs and I have survived them all. I’ve also saved my company a significant amount of costs during my time there. All of my performance reviews have been excellent. Also, in that time, my cost of living has increased. Shouldn’t raises at least for cost of living be standard? I’ve spoken with HR in the past and haven’t gotten a resolution. What should I do? —Zaria
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: It sounds like your employer has endured some difficult times given all the layoffs. Though you were fortunate to retain your job, your experience throughout seems to be difficult as well.
While many employers provide annual merit increases, there is no law mandating raises or cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Merit increases can be higher or lower than the annual COLA projection as published by the Social Security Administration. There are three main steps you can take to ask for a raise or COLA.
Start by having a candid conversation with your manager. Bring to this discussion examples of how you have added value to the organization. Your performance reviews can help demonstrate how well you’ve met or exceeded expectations.
Even if you haven’t reached a satisfactory resolution with HR, they still should be able to outline the pay range for your position. You may also want to do some research on comparable local pay for your position. Talk about the impact of inflation, not just recent inflation, but for your entire duration of service. Compare the cost of living when you started versus where it stands today.
Lead the conversation with an acceptable range you are seeking for an increase and be prepared to brag about yourself; now is not the time to be humble!
Second, if your employer is unable to give you a raise or COLA, you may want to negotiate other possible incentives, such as flexible work arrangements or more paid time off.
Third, consider having a career discussion with your manager. You may be at the top of the pay range for your position, so discuss potential promotion opportunities within the organization. Establishing a career path can also help you reach the salary level you seek.
As you enter a negotiation, be prepared for it to go either way. No matter how strong a case you make, your employer may not choose an outcome that is satisfactory for you. Your employer will act in their best business interest, and you should be prepared to decide what is best for your future. While you don’t need to give an ultimatum, you should seek to understand how well-aligned your interests are.
Ultimately, you may also need to decide if your current employer is the right place for your continued career and financial growth.
I wish you the best in your salary negotiations.