Dear Dr. Faizal,

My company let go of my co-worker. For the past three months I’ve done his work and mine. When it came time for my review and wage increase I only received cost of living and not a merit increase. I feel this is unfair given all the work I’ve been doing. My boss is always thanking me for my work but I’m worried he’s been taking the credit at the executive table. What do I do?

– Unhappy With Salary

Dear Unhappy,

When we work for a company and are good at what we do, it’s only natural for us to want to feel appreciated for our time, energy and commitment to our employer. Appreciation can be expressed mostly in two ways: either in terms of a raise and/or being acknowledged openly among peers for the value one brings to the company.

You say that you’re worried that your boss has been “taking the credit at the executive table” for the extra work that you’ve been doing. I’m wondering if it is really important to you who is getting the credit here. I mean, if you received all the credit for your extra work – and everyone hailed you for ‘taking one for the team,’ and being a valuable part of the company, would you be okay with continuing to perform the duties of two employees? Perhaps you would, or, if you’re like most of us, you would not be a happy camper at work without some form of help, either financial or by way of lessening your workload.

You need to assert yourself with your boss. Before meeting with him or her, do some calculations about all the work you’ve done beyond your own and the approximate salary you saved the company during these three months.

Set a meeting with your boss. Review the dual work role you’ve undertaken and show appreciation when he/she thanks you for your hard work again. Present your calculations so your boss can truly understand your need and your right as an employee for fair treatment. Express your needs unapologetically. As I see it, you are within your rights to request merit pay, also known as pay-for-performance, for the past three months of work (not a salary though). Also, if you don’t mind the extra work, give your boss an option: to either give you your former co-worker’s full salary, moving forward or to hire someone else to take over that position.

Many employees remain passive and don’t assert themselves for fear of losing their job, while the truth of the matter is that employers appreciate workers who stand up for themselves and what is right. Employers recognize that when workers are appreciated and feel happy at work, they perform better and their production improves.

If your boss values you, he/she would not want to risk losing you. You have proven yourself to your company, and now you need your company to prove itself to you. This win-win perspective leads to a happy and productive office culture.

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