Steps to Take When Your Co-Workers Are Getting Paid More

Steps to Take When Your Co-Workers Are Getting Paid More

It’d be ideal if co-workers who have a similar position or have been there the same length of time got the same salary. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Perhaps you recently discovered that a colleague is getting paid more than you. You also discover they’ve been working at your company for a shorter period. Or, you’re dealing with a similar scenario.

It infuriates you that they’re getting paid more because you’ve been putting your 100% into your job. Before reacting out of anger, take a moment to compose yourself.

Here are some steps to take to deal with this situation, no matter how frustrating it is. 

1. Do Some Research

It would be best if you didn’t jump to any conclusions. First, do some research. Find out what the market value of your job is based on the area you work in. Even if you did this research before you got hired, it likely has changed.

Figure out how much less you’re getting paid regarding how much work you’re both doing. Ask yourself if your co-worker has more experience or has another degree that you don’t have.

If you’re both on the same playing field, then you’re justified in speaking to your boss. But if there’s any doubt, take time to mull things over before proceeding.

2. Don’t Take it Out on Your Co-Worker

It’s not your colleague’s fault that they’re getting paid more. If you work closely together and are frustrated, leave your co-worker out of it. You’re only going to cause conflict if you drag them into it. Plus, it could be awkward if you try to pry information out of them.

Instead, the fact that they’re getting paid more than you should prompt you to prepare and ask for a raise. It’s something you need to discuss with your boss and not your colleague.

3. Talk to Your Boss

After you’ve decided whether to proceed with speaking to your boss, set up a time to meet. When it’s time for the meeting, it would be best not to be confrontational. Instead, be polite yet upfront. Start the conversation out by telling them you’re aware that co-workers are getting paid more. But do this without bringing up any names.

Follow this up by explaining how hard you’ve worked and how much you love your job. Ask if there’s a possible way to get a raise.

Your boss will likely respond one of two ways.

  1. They’ll explain that your colleague has a broader skill set and that’s why they’re paid more. Or, you find out that they’re in charge of more projects.
  2. The second way a boss will respond is they’ll admit that you do indeed deserve a raise.

They may make the argument that the co-worker has more experience. If that happens, and that is true, ask if you can take on a more challenging project. Make it known that you’d like to prove that you’re just as big of an asset to the company as your co-worker.

4. Follow Up After a Certain Length of Time

Depending on the outcome of your conversation with your boss, decide when to follow up with them.

If your boss asked to think about it and haven’t heard back after a month or so, reach out to them again. You’re not overly pushy, but instead giving them a nudge and reminding them to make a decision.

It may be up to you to take on new responsibilities to get a raise. Go out on a limb and volunteer to take over more tasks. After running a few successful projects, approach your boss again to ask for a raise.

5. Don’t Settle for a Job That Doesn’t Recognize Your Talent

If you’ve done all that you can and still aren’t getting paid what you’re worth, it’s time to make a tough choice. At a certain point, it’s time to move on and look for Workers elsewhere.

Your boss doesn’t recognize your talent, and you don’t want to hang around a company that isn’t willing to promote you.

Put together a compelling resume and cover letter and start applying for jobs (Physicians Thrive offers valuable advice on putting together a cover letter). It’ll take courage to start fresh, but you deserve it, especially if you’ve Workers hard and have what it takes to succeed elsewhere.


Finding out that a colleague is getting paid more is disconcerting, to be sure. But don’t allow it to derail your plans to grow, whether it’s with this company or another one.

Be proactive by communicating with your boss and figuring out a solution. Ideally, you’ll get paid the same amount as your colleague and continue to grow with the company. If not, there are plenty of other companies who will welcome you and your incredible gifts.

Don’t settle when you have what it takes to succeed and get paid for your hard work!

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