Lots of companies do year-end salary increases, so you may be happy to come back to work with a fatter paycheck, or you may be like this reader who didn't get a raise and is frustrated and angry:

I'm a licensed mental health clinician. My company recently did a salary review and most of my co-workers, who have only 1-4 years of experience, received a salary increase and I did not.  I have been in the field for over 20 years. Four years ago, I decided to gracefully bow out of management, as my passion is in clinical work. 

I brought my concerns to my direct supervisor and then to the Department Administrator. I told him that I felt undervalued and not appreciated.  I seem to always be told, "you are paid at the higher end of the salary range."  I am tired of hearing this and suggested that I should not be penalized because I have a significant amount of experience and do not want to advance to a management position again.  The administrator said they are working on a plan for bonuses for people like me, but that hasn't happened.

I could quit, but I like the job. What can I do?

This is one of those situations where you have to take accountability for your own actions. You don't like management, but management pays more. You could quit and take a new job, but you like this job. The result is, this is what this job pays.

In lots of situations, I'd say that the boss doesn't like you or is being unreasonable if you are doing a good job and not receiving raises, but this doesn't appear to be the case here. The reality is, you are at the higher end of the salary range. This isn't rude and it's not belittling, it's simply a fact. Most companies use salary ranges for jobs and they won't pay you more than the top of that range.

It's not that they don't value you, it's that you can only bring so much value to them. I realize that sounds a bit rude, but let's take a look at a job everyone is at least somewhat familiar with: Grocery store checker.

Now, someone with experience does do a better job than someone being trained. As you learn things you can scan faster, bag groceries better, and answer customer questions quickly and more accurately than your newer colleagues. But, no matter how good you are, there are limitations to the amount of value you bring to your company. You will never see a grocery store cashier earning $100,000 a year. But, you may see a grocery store manager earning $100,000 a year, or more.

It's not that the cashier isn't doing a great job, it's that there becomes a point that it makes no financial sense to pay her any additional money. If she's willing to take on more responsibility (become a front end manager, for instance), then yes, a raise is in order. But, otherwise, she will max out.

That's where you are. You chose to leave management, and that's fine. But, it simply pays less. Your colleagues got raises because they were earning less than the market rate, but you are earning more than the market rate.

So, make your choice! Be happy in your current job, or make changes to your life that bring in more money. 

Published on: Jan 7, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.