|Before the unthinkable happened – i.e., the pandemic – budgets and projections made sense and often went as planned. But then, what had been promised became unrealistic. Instead of raises, you were struggling to keep the doors open and keep your staff paid. Now, in some places in Canada, we are seeing the other side of the pandemic and we are being reminded of promises made and broken. Here are some considerations:
- Promise was in writing? You are tied to it…unless you can mutually agree to a new written agreement replacing the original.
- Verbal promise only? If challenged legally, it may be upheld as valid and require follow through. However, there may be more wiggle room. And again, you can replace that promise with a new agreement if the employee agrees.
- Financially feasible? Figure out your numbers to see what you can afford. Consider this employee and others. Assume employees will talk about compensation.
- Approach the subject with the employee? Yes! Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away, but it might make possible retro pay outs sting more later. Worse still, a frustrated employee may quit.
- Can’t meet the financial promise? Seek mutual empathy. Connect with, not talk at, your employee. Be open to their perspective. Do NOT cry poor.
- Alternate options in the meantime? Negotiate. Until you are financially able to provide that raise, be flexible. Time off, flexible work arrangements, passion projects, etc. can show good faith. Ask them what they would appreciate…unless you’re a mind-reader.
There is an international labour shortage that will continue even when things ‘return to normal’. We need to retain as many employees as we can. Gone are the one-way top-down management models. More than ever, we need to adapt and be creative.