Loving Your Job is one thing but do you fit your job, and does your job fit you? How do you know if you’re in the right place and can thrive? What’s the ‘FIT’? Because FIT Matters! And this is the title of my new book.
Whether you are self-employed, work for a large corporation or a small start-up, chances are you spend a lot of time on the job. Typically, women who are employed full-time spend more time working than doing just about anything else – eating, sleeping, playing, parenting. So, work needs to work for you! It needs to utilize your skills and talents, it needs to fit your lifestyle, the relationships need to be healthy and supportive and financially you need to know that you are appropriately valued.
The role of financial fit in loving your job is complex and requires deep reflection on both your current and future needs. Your needs are multi-faceted – some are practical, such as understanding the cash flow required to take care of financial obligations, and some are more closely tied to identity and emotional desires. Financial fit is great when all of those needs and realities match your current work compensation.
Understanding what you need for great financial fit first requires a realistic assessment of your expenses. It’s important to consider all annual, quarterly, and monthly expenses. This includes your rent or mortgage, car payments, car insurance, credit cards with outstanding balances, gym memberships, entertainment, hobbies, family obligations, and grocery bills. If you don’t know that number, get out a piece of paper and figure it out. Once you know your total annual expenses, calculate what that is monthly. To understand your financial options, it’s critical to have a good grasp of your obligations and spending patterns.
Having a clear grasp of what you need, eliminating debt and increasing savings gives you significantly more flexibility when it comes to the role of pay in your employment situation. For example, one client Lori was unhappy in her job as a marketing manager for a tech company, and she decided to accept a position to do social media for a nonprofit where she had been serving as a volunteer. The change meant a significant decrease in salary and therefore a big decrease in spending. “I’ve had to make sacrifices, but it’s worth it. Now I help people, I’m valued, I feel tremendous trust from my boss and coworkers.”
Like Lori, you may want to take a job that pays less but provides great fit in other areas. To do that you have to figure out how to spend less each month. You may also have to save money and reduce your debt prior to making the job switch.
Don’t forget, your pay package is only part of the equation. Your total compensation may include benefits such as health insurance, dental/ vision benefits, vacation time, personal days, disability insurance, and perks such as free food and gym facilities. Even factors such as job title or access to training programs can provide great value over time. Smart organizations are increasingly designing their compensation programs in the context of a total rewards strategy that takes into account pay, benefits, and non-monetary rewards such as career paths and work-life balance. Each of these has different value to different individuals. Know what’s most important to you.
Jamie worked in patient collections at a large community hospital. A single mother, she had average health insurance and didn’t think much about coverage at first. Over the years, however, as first one and then both of her sons developed health concerns requiring frequent medical treatment and intervention, health insurance became key to how she felt about her financial fit. She had taken a new job with a higher salary, but left it after a few months to join her previous employer, who offered full medical coverage for all employees, including their dependents. As the medical bills mounted, having comprehensive coverage was far more important to Jamie than a higher salary.
A critical piece of financial fit is a sense of fairness. Given the amount of time and energy you devote to work, you want to ensure that you’re valued in an appropriate way. Receiving less than you need or deserve can lead to dissatisfaction that can impact commitment and, in some cases, confidence.
Pay equity has become a hot topic for organizations and individuals. Unlike the past, where social taboo made it difficult to compare your pay with that of other people, today there’s a general move toward greater transparency, with multiple resources available to find standard pay rates.
Many women and minorities still face tremendous pay gap issues. Controlling for factors such as career level, education, skills, job responsibilities, and more, researchers at PayScale (2015) have found that women earn between 3 percent and 5 percent less than men for equivalent work. For some industries, such as finance and tech, the gap is much higher.
An important way to ensure that your pay is fair is to be proactive in knowing what your skills are worth. Grounding yourself in the facts can be especially critical if, like some men and many women, you’re not comfortable or experienced in negotiating for more pay. Salary.com found that 84 percent of employers expect prospective employees to negotiate salary during the interview stage (Gouveia 2013). Yet only 30 percent of women negotiate, while 46 percent of men do (Babcock and Laschever 2007).
You can use websites such as payscale.com or glassdoor.com to compare your salary to those in similar jobs, factoring in location, experience, education, and other attributes. Once you gain this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to negotiate with your current employer or decide to move to a job that provides a better financial match.
Finally, you need to understand what financial compensation really means to you. The pursuit of power, recognition, status, security, family sup- port, flexibility – these are all legitimate financial motivations. The role that money plays in motivating you will shape what you look for in an organization and its compensation package, and it will certainly shape how you balance financial fit with the other elements of work fit.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I know what I need to earn in order to meet my financial obligations?
- What is my preferred mix of fixed vs. variable compensation? Short-term vs. long-term?
- What benefits are most important to me?
- Are there other psychological needs my compensation should address?
- Do I believe my pay is fair?
Great financial fit won’t guarantee success or happiness, but poor financial fit will certainly cause harm and stress. You need to be compensated in a way that enables you to meet your obligations and fulfills larger psychological needs. You deserve to be paid fairly based on your experience and on what’s typical for the position. The more you master your money skills, the more freedom and flexibility you will enjoy!
To learn more about all the areas of work fit check out my new book Fit Matters: How to Love Your Job. For more information and a free chapter see www.fitmatters.biz.